Editors’ Note: This feature appears as it was published in the winter 2019 edition of UT Dallas Magazine. Titles or faculty members listed may have changed since that time.
UT Dallas athletic teams have filled a trophy case with league awards over the past few years, and these winning outcomes for the Comets are attracting more fans to home games. In the past two seasons, record crowds – primarily consisting of boisterous students – have filled the UTD Activity Center gym to give the Comets a true home-court advantage.
While nothing gets a crowd excited like winning, it also helps to have the Crush Crew on hand. Formed as the official student spirit organization, Crush Crew is a driving force behind the revitalized school spirit on the campus in recent years.
“Students are the ones who bring the passion and energy to any college campus,” said Valerie Hoops, former athletics marketing coordinator who now works in the Office of Development and Alumni Relations.
“In order to create an exciting game-day atmosphere, we wanted to get more students to the games, and Crush Crew has given us the means to do that,” she said. “Crush Crew has done a great job of forming a community of friends who boost school spirit and support their fellow Comets.”
Ali Nourani-Dargiri, Crush Crew president, has a vision for uniting students from across campus to cheer on the Comets. “The idea of being part of a crowd of rowdy, dedicated fans is what university life is all about,” the political science senior said.
Joining with other fans is simple. Using a free smart phone app called UTD Crush Crew, fans can register their attendance at every Comets home game and earn points redeemable for rewards like UTD apparel, gift cards and other merchandise. Fans can also use the app to share photos and social media posts from athletic events, as well as get information about future events and activities. Last year more than 800 students downloaded the UTD Crush Crew app.
To become an “official” member of Crush Crew, students pay a $10 fee. Members get a Crush Crew T-shirt to wear to games, special seating at all home games and an invitation to other Crush Crew-only events. Last year, Hoops estimates each member received over $200 worth of food and gifts.
“Crush Crew has provided a spark for building a much more involved student body at UTD events,” said Tasia Wilson BA ’18, who was one of the original members of the group in 2016. “Our goal has always been to bring together students from different backgrounds into one unified force.”
The organization hosts Crush Crew rallies that include food, music and other activities – all in the name of recruiting new members. Last year, there were over 60 official members.
“Although our initial numbers were small, we believe we’ve created a solid foundation,” Nourani-Dargiri said. “Any new tradition comes from modest beginnings. We plan to spend a lot of time on outreach this year, appealing to differ-ent groups to become a part of Crush Crew.”