Valley Voices

Seeking the spirit of a champion at Fresno State to rekindle the Red Wave

Fresno State junior left tackle Netane Muti, coming back from an Achilles injury suffered at Minnesota in the second game of the 2018 season, will be a key piece in the competition at all of the Bulldogs' offensive line positions.
Fresno State junior left tackle Netane Muti, coming back from an Achilles injury suffered at Minnesota in the second game of the 2018 season, will be a key piece in the competition at all of the Bulldogs' offensive line positions. Fresno Bee file

Champion. More than a celebrated victor who claims wins and subsequent titles, a champion is an advocate who fights on behalf of those they represent. In the realm of college athletics, Fresno State is currently riding high on a Red Wave of success. While winning has returned, the days of electric crowds and sold-out games seem to be a distant memory. I believe that the problem is one of perception. Bulldog games aren’t just for people that love sports, they’re for everyone committed to seeing our community thrive. Pride is not produced by affiliation alone; it is a result of ownership, participation, and empowerment that can only happen when fans feel valued.

It’s time we embrace new ideas that create maximum change for minimal cost. This is not about sports, it's about realizing Fresno State’s true identity as the champion of the Central Valley.

McKay C. Mohun Courtesy photo

In our modern age of convenience, Fresno State must give fans an experience that can’t be replicated anywhere else. The same idea applies to restaurants. As easy as it is to order food that is delivered directly to your door, people still crowd restaurants because they want more than a meal, they want an experience. It’s not about just selling tickets, it’s about creating a unique, game-day experience that encourages fan participation from the moment they pass through the gates until the end of the fourth quarter.

Bulldog fans should be loud and proud. Fans should be actively involved throughout the entire game, not simply relegated to watching silently from the sidelines. Many schools have well known traditions that connect fans to an ongoing legacy, shared by generation after generation. These traditions not only create a sense of ownership for fans, but also connect them to a deeper sense of belonging. I propose a new tradition that honors our past while creating a unifying experience that can be enjoyed by fans of all ages for many years to come:

At the beginning of every game, the crowd would rise to its feet in silence. The right arm is raised high in the air as the hand signs the letter “F” in American Sign Language, fans scream “FRESNO!” In a similar fashion the left is then raised signing the letter “S”, as the crowd yells “STATE!” Repeated rapidly, this new tradition gives Red Wavers a symbol that unites Bulldog fans of every background and ability as they make a meaningful sign that speaks volumes.

This can be the beginning of a larger initiative and discussion that welcomes cooperation with local organizations that embody the spirit of a Bulldog.

Every time a Bulldog athlete steps out onto the field, they bear the green “V” on their uniform. This outward symbol represents not only the Valley, but the industry that has served as a cornerstone of our community. In the Central Valley, agriculture is not just a major part of our economy, it’s an intrinsic element of our shared identity.

Every stadium in the nation offers hot dogs and soda — imagine if Bulldog Stadium offered a farmers’ market-like venue that showcases the bountiful produce that puts our region on the map.

In addition to sponsorships, I believe there exists a tremendous opportunity for partnerships both inside and outside the stadium for a variety of local businesses. These partnerships are invaluable as they embrace shared responsibility as the two parties work toward goals that are mutually beneficial.

At the end of the day, I’m just a 25 year old born and bred Bulldog fan who believes that sports provide more than entertainment, they provide hope. After graduating from the University of Alabama two years ago, I returned home to a program and a community that needed more than just wins, they needed a champion. The Red Wave is Fresno State’s greatest asset. Our maximum potential cannot be fully realized until we combine our efforts, not just as fans, not just as a university, but as one Valley united.

The proposals that I’ve introduced here are just some of the many ideas that I believe have the potential to help reignite the passion and the spirit of the Red Wave. If Fresno State truly wants to be the “Pride of the Valley” it needs to start by taking a reflective look into the mirror and say, “We are Fresno State, we champion the Central Valley, and we HEAR you.”

McKay C. Mohun is a Fresno native. He is a screenwriter and film director.