When we started tossing around ideas for our marketing campaign for this year, we kept coming back to one thing, the fans. Over the last year or so, we in Arizona Athletics have really tried to focus on how important the fans are to the overall success of the football program. We eventually landed on the slogan #BeThe1, which was centered around Arizona football being 11+1 with the '11' representing the players on the field and the '1' representing the fans.
To that end, we decided to pair some of our most loyal fans with members of the football program on our collateral materials, including the actual tickets, and we wanted to give everyone some info on those fans. So, each week of a home game, we'll publish an article called 'Get to Know Your Tickets.'
First up is Mario Nava, who was paired with head coach Rich Rodriguez for the UNLV game.
Q: When did you become an Arizona Wildcats football fan and why?
A: My dad was in the Air Force, we traveled a lot. We were stationed at Davis-Monthan in the early 80s. My parents decided to retire in Tucson and we arrived in 1990. I remember going to games on a reugular basis, it was the place to be. The early 90's, the Desert Swarm.
Q: Do you remember the first game you attended at Arizona Stadium? If so, what stands out from that memory?
A: My very first Wildcat football game was in 1983. I sat in the northwest side of the stadium. As a young kid, I liked football but really didn't understand the game. My dad was excited to be at the game. He kept telling me "this is big time football." Again, as a kid, it really didn't mean much to me, until now. My uncle was in the Pride of Arizona. We went to see him play. To this day, I can't remember who Arizona played that day but I do remember I liked being at the stadium. At the time, I did not realize that being at the stadium would play an important role in my life. I look forward to the beginning of every school year. Arizona Football is about to begin.
Q: How long have you been a season ticket holder?
A: I've had season tickets for 14 years.
Q: What is your favorite all-time Arizona football moment and why?
A: I've seen some amazing games at Arizona Stadium and traveling to bowl games. November 7, 1992, Arizona beat a No. 1-ranked Washington team. That was the first time I stormed the field. I was hooked! In 2008, we beat Idaho 70-0 at home. That's the most points I have ever witnessed live. In the past couple of years, the New Mexico Bowl game, the win over Oregon last year and the Advocare Bowl game in Shreveport. All spectacular wins for the Arizona Football program.
Q: Who is your all-time favorite Arizona Wildcat football player and why?
A: This is a tough question for me, since everyone who puts on a uniform is my favorite, past and present. If I have to narrow it down, I would say my all-time favorite Wildcat would have to be John "Button" Salmon. Without Button, we would not have our most famous slogan "Bear Down." To me, that's the best in all of college sports.
Q: If you could chose the uniforms for one game, what uniform combo would it be?
A: I would like to see the Cats come out in their white pants, blue jersey and their white helmets. That's an Arizona classic look.
Q: What role do you think the fans play in a team’s success?
A: Whether they believe it or not, the fans play a vital role in the team's success. The players feed off our energy. When it's 4th and inches, I believe the fans help get that conversion. When the opposing team has the ball, we get loud .
Q: What is your favorite part about coming to games?
A: I like to take my family to the Fan Fiesta. It has become a staple for us. We enjoy all the activities and the food. Going to an Arizona Football game is an all-day event for us.
Q: Do you have any traditions/rituals that you take pride in during your gameday adventure?
A: The weekend before the season starts, I go to Florence to pay homage to John "Button" Salmon. There is a historical marker where he had his accident. To me, that is as important as touching his statue on campus prior to every home game. Another recent tradition I like to partake in is the Wildcat Walk. Talk about getting the fans and players pumped up before each game.
Q: What are fans who don’t come to the games missing out on by not being at Arizona Stadium?
A: When fans don't make it to games, they are missing the unexpected. You never know what is going to happen during a game. For example, last year when we beat Oregon. At the beginning of the game, the stadium was almost empty. By the end of the game, I believe it was standing room only. We have the largest student section in the conference, the Zona Zoo. When the Zona Zoo is at full capacity, what a sight to see and the stadium feeds off their energy.
Q: How do you feel about every season ticket holder having a ticket with your picture on it?
A: It's very exciting, to be paired up with Coach Rodriguez. It's a humbling experience to be forever connected with the Arizona Football program. Knowing that I will never suit up to play a down, it's a dream come true.
Q: What is your personal message to Wildcat fans who haven’t yet become season ticket holders?
A: One thing I would like to say to fans out there that are thinking about buying season tickets, What are you waiting for? This is your time to experience what it is to be a fan. You can make a difference, "Be The One." Come and join everyone at Arizona Stadium, let's show the players that we support them and let's keep Arizona Stadium rocking! Bear Down!