This past weekend, thousands of fans gathered to watch the long awaited Cy-Hawk game unfold. With the presence of College Gameday in Ames, excitement increased. Chances are, if you live in the state of Iowa, you were either in Ames this weekend yourself, or could count the number on two hands of how many people you knew who were.
However, there are many fans who aren’t able to travel to Ames each weekend. Instead, they gather each game day to watch the Cyclones take on their opponents from the TV screen.
These fans attend game day watch parties and take over the space where they’re watching, filling it with Cyclones left and right.
Located all across the United States, The Alumni Association helps organizers from big cities and small towns alike host watch parties and create a “home away from home” for those who travel post-graduation.
“We have around 7,000 alums in the area,” said Trey Hemmingsen, a watch party host in Denver. “There’s clubs all over the place. They’re awesome for those people who are just moving to the area and want to make some connections.”
Large cities that Cyclones congregate to after graduating have multiple regions where they can meet up and watch the game. In Colorado, there’s four different watch locations across the state.
In Denver, hosts ensure that each and every fan can watch at a spot that’s suitable for them.
“We now have two game watch locations, one that’s more family focused and one that’s the downtown raging bar scene,” Hemmingsen said. “We have both bars at capacity. Last year for this game we saw around 300-350 Iowa Staters at our bars.”
Additionally, hosts do their best to create a community of Cyclones in these metropolitan areas and establish friendships as well as connections.
“We want to greet everyone when they come to the door, we want to let them know ‘Hey, this is your home away from Iowa, you can hang with us anytime,’” Hemmingsen said.
Similar to football games, watch parties bring out a wide range of individuals, whether it be big families or newly graduated 20-something-year-olds looking to feel the same energy as they did in Jack Trice Stadium.
“We have people who bring their infant children to game watches and then there are people in their 90’s that show up, so we have a huge age range of people — it’s a lot of fun,” said Hemmingsen. “I’m really glad that I became involved.”
Based off of alumni and community interest, game watches can occur in any city, state or region. With 51 national and six international locations, locating one won’t be a problem.
Not only do they gather to watch games together, but they do their best to try and branch out with activities that are unique to their state or region. In Denver? Skiing or attending a cheese-making class could potentially take place on a week that Iowa State isn’t playing or any time you just want to hang out with your fellow Cyclones.
“Our main focus is engagement,” said Alumni Officer Brenden Welch. “Making sure that these alumni and friends feel like they have a home away from home, where they can connect with other Iowa Staters.”
With the theme of ‘home away from home’ ringing true with those involved, there’s plenty of locations a Cyclone can travel to and still experience that game day feeling.
“It’s not the same as being here,” Welch said. “But I think it’s the best alternative because you’re around a bunch of Iowa State people who just want Iowa State to do well. And more importantly, watch the Hawkeyes lose.’’
While the outcome wasn’t what any Iowa State fan wanted, the feeling and atmosphere surrounding game day can’t be beat.
“There’s something special about the Iowa versus Iowa State game,” Welch said. “Over 80 percent of our clubs are having a game watch for this game, and that’s almost 10 more game watches than last year. The Iowa game is always the biggest game for our clubs to host game watches.”
With a sold-out Jack Trice and thousands of fans for both teams in Ames, there’s no confusion as to why this was the biggest and most anticipated game of the year.
When looking toward the future, have no fear in where you’re going to end up, because there’ll be plenty of other Cyclones there to ensure the feeling of Cyclone Nation never goes away.