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Shirtless fans show their school spirit, despite the cold and wet conditions of the night. (Ariana Berkemeier / The Signpost)

In sports, it could be seen that teams tend to benefit from a rowdy atmosphere. At Weber State University, the student section known as the “Destruction Zone” is making a name for themselves.

WSU director of athletic communications Paul Grua said he believes the student section has played a major role in athletic success.

“It is such a fun student atmosphere,” Grua said. “The (Destruction Zone) has been working hard on trying to do new things. They have been reaching out to students.”

WSU sophomore Matthew Thorpe is a member of WSUSA, having served on the president’s cabinet in 2017-18. He is also a leader of the student section and said he is appreciative of what his crew has done.

“I feel like we have helped bring a good atmosphere to games,” Thorpe said. “We have been able to energize the teams a bit.”

Thorpe said the goal of the Destruction Zone is to get the student body involved, reaching beyond the die-hard fans.

“Our goal is to make the games fun and exciting, even for people who aren’t sports fans,” Thorpe said. “We hope to get them involved with different contests, such as free shirts or food.”

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Weber State fans in the student section attempt to dsitracted Sac Satte during a free throw shot. (Ariana Berkemeier / The Signpost)

Wildcats senior running back Treshawn Garrett said he noticed the presence of the student section during his team’s record setting 2017 campaign.

“It felt like it (Destruction Zone) got bigger and bigger each game,” Garrett said. “The more they provided, the better we got over time.”

Garrett said he and his teammates have competed in facilities on the road where there is little fan support, which makes him more appreciative of the atmosphere at Stewart Stadium.

Current freshman Tyler Robinson, also a member of the Destruction Zone, said he believes they have been able to influence the teams as they compete.

“In sports, players will admit fans are a big part of what keeps the ball rolling,” Robinson said. “In a close game, it is important to have fans and the entire student body on your side.”

Grua said he thinks student support was most evident during Weber State’s first-ever home playoff football game in 2017.

“We have some great photos of the student section that day,” Grua said. “I know the players and coaches noticed (their support). It was a historic night.”

In addition to cheering on the ‘Cats at home games, the Destruction Zone has also made multiple trips to away contests. They have caravanned to Pocatello for a game against Idaho State University, as well as making a four-hour drive down south to watch the Wildcats play Southern Utah University in both football and basketball.

Grua said the amount of Wildcat fans in Cedar City when WSU knocked off SUU in the second round of the FCS playoffs in 2017 played a significant role in the outcome of the game.

“Any time you are on the road for any sport, it is definitely noticed (by the team),” Grua said. “We had a great crowd in Cedar City for that playoff game.”

Returning senior Marissa Wolford is part of the student-run video crew which produces sporting events at WSU, and said she has benefitted from the opportunity to film the Destruction Zone.

“They definitely create a better overall student body atmosphere,” Wolford said. “When the Destruction Zone arrived, I saw more of a presence at women’s basketball games.”

Thorpe also said he wants to continue to create a positive environment for fellow students.

Wolford said she enjoys the tactics of the Destruction Zone, such as distracting an opponent as they are trying to shoot a free throw.

“They are super nice people,” Wolford said. “They are energetic and fun to be around. They are always willing to help out.”

Robinson said he envisions the Destruction Zone building off their first-year success.

“Last year, we were just trying to do the basics,” Robinson said. “Now, we have an even better team with more people on board. We will be holding events such as tailgates and other parties.”

Students can follow the “Destruction Zone” on social media and are encouraged to sit in their section for all home sporting events.

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