New Castle News


February 1, 2014

Oakland's Zookeeper: Neshannock High graduate leading the cheers for Pitt’s zany student section.



The anticipation for Monday’s showdown with perennial national powerhouse and new Atlantic Coast Conference rival Duke soared as tipoff crept closer and closer.

Students began lining up outside “The Pete” early Sunday morning and eventually were allowed inside to wait for the 7 p.m. tipoff.

“The first people were in line around 9:30 Sunday morning,” Shoup said. “I got there around 3. By then, I’d say there were a solid 200 people lined up and were there all night. We had mattresses and TVs. We watched the Grammys together. Some people had video game consoles and someone had a grill. They cooked hot dogs outside. It was a lot of fun.”

Panthers coach Jamie Dixon arrived during the roughly 34-hour wait with donuts and chatted with the Pitt fans.

“Coach brought donuts in the morning and we had pizza for everyone at noon,” Shoup said. “Only the first 15 people knew he was coming, because marketing had told us. For most of the people, it was a surprise. He talked with us and asked ‘Are you guys at least studying?’ He hung around for a little bit, but he had a shootaround, so he had to leave.

“He’s so grateful for us being there. He knows what a big impact we have. He’s very appreciative of us.”

The sleepover wasn’t planned, Shoup said.

“We camped out last year for Syracuse, so we anticipated some people might line up for the Duke game,” she said. “The Syracuse game was on a weekend last year, so we didn’t know how many would line up early because of class.

“We definitely didn’t plan it. We just let things happen and once we saw so many people were there, we called to see if we could get a security guard. They let us in early, so people wouldn’t have to wait in line outside. They were very cool about it.”

Shoup noted many of the students still made it to class Monday.

“People were leaving to go to class and coming back,” she said. “As long as a group member was there, they were able to get their spot back. It really wasn’t a problem. I’m pretty sure most people still went to class. I didn’t hear of anyone getting into trouble.”

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