Sideline Report with Nia from Washington State

Coug uniform, pearls, long socks, red lipstick and the Coug-head tattoo on my cheek – I’m ready for some Cougar football! My name is Nia Watts and I’m a Washington State University cheerleader ready to give you a play-by-play of my first home game EVER! Our home opener on September 13th was a full-day event filled with appearances and fun interactions with our awesome Cougar fans. All of this led up to kickoff at 5 pm against Portland State. Let me tell you, a Cougar football game is something you definitely don’t want to miss and a memory I will never forget!

Cougar “Wake Up” Call

As you drive down Stadium Way, you might just see a giant Cougar helmet on the back of a WSU truck trailer. Before every home game, we ride next to the massive helmet, cruising around campus and the city of Pullman to “wake up” our Cougar fans. We get them excited for game day by blasting the fight song and other music. And we always stop by our RV Alumni section to talk to our fans and take in the smells of the tailgating action!

Cougar Prowl

The Cougar Prowl takes place when the football team finally arrives to the stadium. The cheerleaders, band, dancers and TONS of fans flock to our “Cougar Pride” statue outside of the stadium to await the team’s arrival. As everyone waits with anticipation, we perform sidelines, dance to band songs and before you know it, THE TEAM ARRIVES! It’s tradition that every coach, player and spirit squad member walks by and touches the statue as we head into the stadium. Some of us have to jump to reach it!


This is the time of day where we get one-on-one time with our Cougar fans. There are many places where they can buy awesome Cougar gear and stop to get a bite to eat before the game. During this time, we talk with our fans and take pictures with kids and their families. What I really loved was giving my poms to little kids and letting them have a turn at being a cheerleader. Seeing their happy faces was definitely one of the highlights of my day.

Warm Up and Pregame

In the last hour before game time, every ten minutes the fans yell how much time we have until kickoff! This is when the cheerleaders take the field to warm up in front of our fans. We warm up all aspects of game day, from stunts and pyramids to baskets and tumbling.

“20 MINUTES TIL COUGAR FOOTBALL!” and the Cougar Marching Band runs onto the field to start the pregame show. We perform to the Trumpet Cheer, the WSU Fight Song and another traditional song called All Hail. But this year, there was something new! The cheerleaders and band worked together to develop a C-O-U-G-S spell out, where the band plays and the cheerleaders use flags and stunts to lead the crowd in spelling it out. IT. WAS. AWESOME. The crowd knew exactly what to do and spelled it out with all their might!

Taking the Field

There are no words to describe this experience. Butch, our mascot, races onto the field from the player tunnel, riding on a Spyder Roadster, and stops at midfield to lead the entire stadium in a “GO COUGS!” chant. The students yell “GOOOOO!” as Butch points to that section of the crowd, and the alumni side replies with “COOOOUUUGS!”

After that, the big screen plays the intro video for the football team to the tune of Into the Jungle. My heart was pounding as I watched from inside the band tunnel, ready to take the field. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, is as exciting as running through that tunnel to the cheers of the crowd with the football team right behind us. NOTHING!

Game and Post-Game

Our game was full of great stunts and pyramids complete with signs and an awesome student section. WSU is known for its “Air Raid” offense, so you always have to be on your toes and ready for “another COUGAR FIRST DOWN!” It’s only a matter of time before we score a touchdown and are instantly filled with excitement as we run the C-O-U-G-S flags and tumble through the end zone.

Even when we don’t have the ball, you can feel the intensity. When we’re on defense facing a third down, the band plays the theme song from Jaws while we pump up the crowd, and man, do they go NUTS!

By the end of the game we came out with a great Cougar win, 59-21! Our offense actually broke a PAC-12 record with 630 passing yards and a team record with 706 total yards!

After a win, we line up behind the football team and punch out the fight song as the band plays. We then take a spirit squad “victory pic” in the middle of the field so we will remember the moment for years to come.

Thank you for spending game day with WSU! Being on this team and cheering on the sidelines is really a dream come true. Though I tried, I will never be able to capture all of the excitement of a Cougar football game. So if you ever find yourself in Pullman, come join us as we cheer on our Cougars! Go Cougs!

-Nia Watts