Robert Cavazos discusses his mission of encouraging more University of Texas students to attend non-revenue sporting events.
When Texas Tech broke up a no-hit bid by University of Texas softball star Cat Osterman during the fifth inning of a game last April, Robert Cavazos was among the 657 fans in attendance. It was a friend of Cavazos' who legged out the Red Raiders' lone single, but then there are few non-revenue sports participants at Tech who aren't familiar with the junior business marketing major. As founder of Tech Small Sports, an informal fan club that nonetheless has been formally recognized by the university as an official student organization, Cavazos more often than not is there in person to support his school's underappreciated athletic teams. Paul Steinbach asked him to explain how attending such events with his band of 10 or so core followers became a passion.
Q: Whose big idea was Tech Small Sports? A: In my residence hall during freshman year, I got to meet the entire women's soccer team. We went to our first women's soccer game because the soccer stadium isn't that far from the dorm. Once we checked it out, we were like, "Hey, we should form a group." We were just joking around in the stands, but the other guys dared me to go ahead and make it official. I got all the paperwork from the Center for Campus Life, filled it out, turned it in and selected an advisor. That was the starting point.
Q: Have you personally missed many home events since? A: The only times I've ever missed were because I had a family emergency, was sick or had a test at the same time as a game. It takes something out of my control.
Q: Are student-athletes aware of your group's efforts? A: Absolutely. Whenever we see them in the dining hall or at class - or even at the game - they'll say, "Hey, thanks for coming out." The beauty of small sports is that you can actually interact with players after the game. It's a little bit different than with football and basketball.
Q: Do you still make time for Tech's big-time sports? A: That's our main love. But we love sports so much that we go to the smaller events just to have a good time. That's what we're trying to tell the average student, the casual fan - that you can go see the small sports, hang out with your friends and still have a good time while supporting your classmates.
Q: Has your group had any noticeable influence on overall student attendance? A: My freshmen year, it pretty much was just us. There were no casual fans. Then Tech athletics got the idea of what we were trying to do and started a program by which students are awarded points for every event they go to, and they can get all sorts of prizes through sponsorships. Now it's cool to go see these sports. That's always been our mission - to get students to the games. They don't necessarily come sit with us in the front row, but they're there.