Due to an outpouring of comments on last week’s Payoff Pitch column titled “Where Have You Gone CIA? Eater Nation Needs to Step It Up,” UCI Sports Marketing Coordinator Nick Coromelas and ex-CIA leader Ryan Greenfield had the opportunity to provide their conflicting point of views.
The last home game against Cal Poly was yet another pitiful display of spirit leading by the non-existent Peter’s Leaders. Small sections of students started to get pumped up during a frantic comeback attempt by the Anteaters in the second half.Unfortunately, the energy was impossible to sustain with the student sections all spread out among the bottom bowl and no one in front to connect everyone together.
And now, a Q&A opportunity with both Coromelas and Greenfield.
PP: Tell me about why the switch was made to Eater Nation?
Coromelas: Eater Nation was a spin-off of our baseball team’s run to the World Series three years ago. We wanted to grow CIA because it was kind of stuck in this funk, and that’s why it evolved into Eater Nation. To clarify from your column, there was never ever funding for CIA. It was part of athletics, and we’re still doing the same thing we’re doing for CIA – but for Eater Nation. Doing the t-shirts and bussing to the Big West Tournament.
Eater Nation is still a student-run group. They meet every Tuesday and try to think of ideas to promote. [Zotsquad] is people from ASUCI, some fraternity people and some of our sports marketing interns, and I try to facilitate everything.
PP: Why are so many people disgruntled within the CIA leaders?
Coromelas: The old leaders didn’t really agree with everything we wanted to do. Changing the color of the shirt was a big deal for them. Instead of jumping on board and helping us create Eater Nation, they tried to fight us on everything. Even though it’s a student-run group and we love their enthusiasm, little things where they could have helped the group, they actually hindered it by fighting against it. They went the wrong way about what we’ve done. They’ve been talking a lot of trash on what’s happened instead of noticing the greatness that’s come out of it. I mean, we’ve lost some enthusiasm, but now instead of 100 students a game, we average 400 students. Plus, most of the 400 are underclassmen, so we’re hoping that they will keep coming out and we’ll turn that number into 600 students.
PP: Speaking of the shirts, why the change?
Coromelas: Just a change; a new look. We’ll be the first to say that black wasn’t the best idea, because it wasn’t our school color, and that’s why we went to blue and gold this year. We wanted a shirt that you would not only wear to a game, but you’d wear around campus. So it created more of a branding thing on campus because are you going to wear a bright yellow shirt around? Most likely not, unless you were going to the gym or something. We wanted a shirt that you’d wear to a bar.
PP: So you guys don’t feel like you wronged the CIA in any way?
Coromelas: No, n ot really. We’re upset that they weren’t a part of it as much as we would have liked them to be, and that they went left when we tried to go right. Change is hard for everybody, and a lot of change happened for their class, so we can see why they’re upset. But from our standpoint, a lot of great things happened.
PP: In regards to the proposed Peter’s Leaders, did you guys get a lot of people to come out?
Coromelas: Not as much as we would have liked. We’ve noticed students aren’t standing, so we thought maybe we could find some crazy students to help us out … but we didn’t get the type of students that could get kids standing up. TIt’s a work in process. It’s a culture thing. It’s totally different [this year]. We went from two sections up to our bottom bowl, and it’s more of a future thing. We understand that this year it’s not going to be crazy, insanely packed; it’s going to take time for people to understand how to be a basketball cheerleader – something like Duke.
PP: What about the tailgates? They haven’t exactly been booming.
Coromelas: Yeah, the tailgates, we need to fix that and grow that. They’re a great start but I think we can really grow those into something special.
We’re trying to bring in more vendors other than just “hey, get some free food.” We’re trying to make it a little more interactive; we’re bringing out dance crews and some more sponsors giving out stuff. There has been some talks about changing the location, because it’s kind of hidden, but then you really lose the car aspect where you can bring your own car. But it’ll be in a better location and a little more exciting.
PP: Would you guys want the old CIA leaders to come out and still spirit lead?
Coromelas: Yeah, I’m not against it. If they want to be in front and be cheering and be crazy, it’s school spirit. We didn’t want to run them away, we just wanted to grow it into something more than 100 students at the game. A leader is something you cannot fabricate. It’s got to be something a student wants to do.
Next, the Payoff Pitch sat down with Ryan Greenfield, a mechanical engineering grad student who was a CIA leader for almost three years.
PP: Care to better explain the plight of CIA?
Greenfield: From the viewpoint of the CIA leaders, we felt that we just weren’t being told what was going on. We were not really warned about major changes. It just happened. One of the things that really bugged us is when we met with Nick over the summer before the last school year; he had said the goal for last year was to make CIA more of a student-run thing. Nick seemed to be in support of that. However, a few months after that we find out CIA was going away and it was becoming Eater Nation. Another thing that was kind of minor was the color of the shirts. That really rubbed us the wrong way, and it kind of just went all downhill from there.
At Shocktoberfest, when it was paired up with Midnight Magic, we were under the impression we were going to have our own booth. Instead, we were stuck helping at the ASUCI info booth, and for whatever reason we weren’t able to get into the Bren in time for the basketball thing, which is what we all wanted to see. It was a lot of lack of communication on both parts.
PP: Is it true that you guys were in a sort of a funk?
Greenfield: We did kind of drop the ball in that we did not do as much as we wanted to do in terms of making a bigger identity on campus. Part of that was that a large part of us were seniors, and we were all really busy with our own individual academic endeavors. We tried to do as much as we could without having our grades suffer. The people that weren’t seniors weren’t really willing to go out and do too terribly much unless we were there as well.
PP: Why the dying interest in spirit leading and CIA?
Greenfield: Having to do what we had to do at the games, which is come an hour and a half early, set up the table and swipe ID’s, and we had to stay up there until there was 12 minutes left in the first half – that was not what we had signed up for. We had to miss part of the game, and sports marketing was just not making us happy. Part of it was the apathetic students – I’m not going to lie. It’s a lot more fun when everyone is standing up and cheering, but you have some other games where you have very few willing to stand up and be obnoxious.
In conclusion, any remnants of CIA or people that are just good at leading cheers need to step up and pump up the crowd at the next home game, Jan. 21 against Long Beach State. Peter’s Leaders, Eater Nation, or whatever, lets just put this dispute behind us and move forward.