It’s late evening on a Friday in October. You and that special person
are wrapped in scarves, walking towards the football stadium at Cal
Poly. Although no alcohol is allowed, the cheering crowd is getting
drunk on something else: mustang spirit, driven in large part by the
“Our goal is to promote pride in Cal Poly athletics,” said Scott
Kirkish, a civil engineering senior and president of the Mustang
Maniacs. “My goal as a maniac is to get a rowdy crowd that is going to
be (into the game) and try to get the players to get something out of
the game; the college rowdy experience.”
The Mustang Maniacs are the official spirit club of Cal Poly, and
members are usually seen handing out flyers around a dancing Musty the
Mustang during UU hour on Thursday mornings.
“It’s not hard getting motivated about Cal Poly athletics, because
it’s exciting watching a team play,” Kirkish said. “On any given day
anyone can win; that’s what gets me going to every single game. Even
when we’re the huge underdog, there’s a chance we could win, and
that’s worth going.”
Kirkish said that even though the spirit club is great, it is hard
having support from other students to promote Cal Poly pride.
“The hardest part about athletics is going to all the games,” Kirkish
said. “In addition to promoting spirit, athletics likes us to promote
the Maniacs, and we’re really limited right now on personnel. We have
seven core members and it would be nice to have more than that.”
As the student spirit club, the Maniacs have been around for almost
two years. Before that the club was called “Running Thunder,” which
restarted school spirit after the original rally club disbanded in the
late 1970s. The current club, named Mustang Maniacs, has been around
since Running Thunder ended. With more help, Cal Poly athletics may be
able to bring back old traditions, such as their rivalry with Fresno
“Fresno State and Cal Poly used to be big rivals in all sports,”
Kirkish said. “You could see it earlier this year when (they) came
here for basketball. Mott Gym was way too red during the game.”
The two schools used to trade the Victory Bell, a cast-iron bell that
was held by either Fresno or Cal Poly when the team won a game. It
was often stolen by members of the opposing school between matches.
According to the Maniacs’ Web site, “students from each school would
steal the bell, paint it with their own school colors, and trot it out
at that year’s football game for bragging rights.”
Aside from going to the athletic events, the Maniacs also do a lot of
other spirit-related activities and events to promote fellowship among
“Maniacs also connect Cal Poly with tri-county California, the group
that puts on Wildflower,” Kirkish said. “So people who can’t get on
with their club this spring can always get signed up through the
In the past, members of the Maniacs and Running Thunder have
participated in the 24-hour relay run.
“The sky is the limit for what (the Maniac) are,” Kirkish said.
“Anything that promotes school spirit and pride in Cal Poly, not only
athletically, but it is easier to get heavy about that stuff.”
Both students and athletes get into the spirit when people overcrowd
the bleachers, or pack in Mott Gym.
“My roommate’s boyfriend is on the basketball team, and I know they
love it when everyone goes to the games and supports them,” said Katie
Barba, an animal science senior. “It gets them pumped up and they like
that we go and support them.”
Kirkish said it’s the school spirit that makes Cal Poly games so eventful.
“It’s fun to get out to a game, with a green-and-gold painted face,
and be a little crazy,” Kirkish said.
However, not all students feel the same about school spirit.
“It’s hard because Cal Poly is not really good at anything
athletically,” said Tim Fox, a history senior. “If it’s not ESPN, why
watch it? Why don’t the cheerleaders go to engineering events?”
The spirit is always around at Cal Poly. Students of all majors wear
CPSU sweatshirts and green Maniac T-shirts, stating “Welcome to the
“Everyone’s a Maniac, whether they like it or not,” Kirkish said.
More information on the Mustang Maniacs can be found at www.cpmaniacs.com.