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February 1, 2014

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

NEW CASTLE — From the Lancer Lunatics to the Oakland Zoo, Jordan Shoup has seen it all.

The 2010 Neshannock High graduate and current University of Pittsburgh student has led both schools’ student sections.

“I’ve tried some things out that we did in high school,” said Shoup, the current president of the Oakland Zoo student section. “I know how to lead people and start cheers. There’s more management here.”

THE OAKLAND ZOO

Pitt’s student section received the moniker the “Oakland Zoo” in 2001 when co-founders Matt Cohen and Zach Hale determined the student section was too calm, rounding up a handful of their friends for a battle with Seton Hall, according to the group’s Wikipedia page.

Cohen, Hale and Co. began wearing gold T-shirts and acting “crazy” while rooting on the Panthers’ men’s and women’s basketball teams at their home games in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh. They are situated across from the team benches at the Petersen Events Center.

The group continued to grow each year in number and in reputation and now has more than 2,000 students on its ledgers.

USA Today ranked the Petersen Events Center as the No. 2 atmosphere for college basketball in the country last March with the student section leading the way.

PRESIDENT SHOUP

Shoup, a daughter of Jan and Doug Shoup of Neshannock Township, assumed leadership duties of the Zoo from Joe Lassi this year.

“The previous leaders see who has been to all the games and have the most loyalty,” she said. “They pick from those people based on who they feel is worthy.”

Shoup’s duties as president of the Zoo don’t begin and end with a basketball game.

The senior exercise science major has helped organize a 3-on-3 basketball fundraiser that’s played on the floor at the Petersen Events Center. All proceeds from the event go to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Pittsburgh.

Shoup and the rest of the student section’s hierarchy serve as liaisons between the university and its student sections.

“If we want towels or if we want T-shirts, we go through the marketing department,” she said. “We help design the T-shirts. It’s actually a lot of work. I don’t know if a lot of people know that.”

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