Founded in 2010, Boise State University’s student section, the Corral, started out small before growing into the thunderous fan haven it is today. The club’s mission is to provide an enthusiastic and electric environment for students to support Boise State athletics.
With the intention of raising school pride within the student body, members of the club strive to maximize the student experience for those attending sports games on campus.
The Corral attends a variety of events, including football, women’s soccer, men’s and women’s basketball and women’s volleyball. While it may seem like an ordinary club, the Corral believes the impact they have on the players goes further than what is seen on the surface.
As of Oct. 12, 2019, Boise State’s football team leads the nation in opponent forced false starts since 2018 with 38. The Corral tends to “bring the noise,” which can intimidate visiting teams, according to senior president of the Corral, Connor Martin.
Martin knows the kind of effect the student section has on the athletes and coaches at sporting events.
“I’ve heard from athletes and coaches that, if the student section is there and they’re loud and cheering [the team]on, they’re making an environment that’s tough to play in [for the opposing team],” Martin said. “That makes them play better and want to win more.”
Both coaches and athletes have expressed their gratitude and appreciation for the Corral and the hard work they put into the games. Leon Rice, the men’s basketball head coach, expressed to Martin that the team is more successful when the student section’s presence is there.
“I’ve heard from Leon Rice saying ‘Hey, you need to get the student section pumping. They play a lot better when [the Corral]is there’,” Martin said. “And all their players go, ‘Yo, you need to get the student section popping this year… We’ve got some big games coming.’”
Along with Rice’s spoken compliments, head football coach Bryan Harsin and members of the football team have shown their appreciation by stopping by some of the Corral’s weekly meetings with pizza to thank them for all they have done and continue to do.
The positive energy for the Corral goes beyond the coaches’ appreciation and into the stands.
Brad Walden, senior vice president of the Corral, leads the intimidating chants for the student section. Walden ensures the energy is always over-the-top and gets into the opposing players’ heads. While this is important, the student section goes beyond just heckling at the opposing teams and cheering on their fellow students.
“Not only do we bring more money into [the athletics]just by people seeing us on TV, but we’re also bringing a level of energy that wouldn’t exist without us to that game,” Walden said. “It gets into the defense’s head and the other team is just overall more intimidated by Boise State as a whole. [We] can make or break a game.”
From a distance, it may seem like an easy task to be part of the Corral. However, that is not the case here. Each week, members of the student section get together to discuss their plans for the upcoming games and discuss what they can do differently from the last event. But along with their successful reputation, the Corral has had their fair share of downfalls and hardships.
Over the years, the Corral has struggled with consistency and changes in leadership. Sophomore Chandler Thornton, the Corral’s social media coordinator, has been working to create a better way to network the club and bring more students in.
“We are an organization where we want people’s voices to be heard,” Thornton said. “We have five leaders and five of the cabinet; we still want to hear from the 20,000 plus student body… By getting more student involvement, more engagement and establishing that leadership as an organization, finding the balance between the two will allow us to grow on campus and grow with each student.”
According to the current leaders, the group has struggled with motivational and consistency issues in the past. With a more dedicated group, they have tripled in size since 2017 and are the loudest they have ever been.
The Corral gives students the opportunity to shoot half-court shots at basketball games, receive free t-shirts, be seen on ESPN, travel to away games and potentially heckle officials in the spirit of the game. For enthusiastic, spirited Boise State students, the club brings fans closest to what they love the most: sports.
In the words of Martin, the Corral lives by their motto: “Come early, be loud, stay late.”