While the Arizona men’s basketball program made a deep run in the NCAA Tournament, the ZonaZoo was in the middle of a deep run of its own. It was announced on Monday that Arizona’s student section won the NCSSA #LoudAndProud 2015 Student Section of the Year Award.
The award will be presented to the ZonaZoo at the first annual National Collegiate Student Section Association Convention at Indiana State University from June 18-20.
“I was just really excited for the ZonaZoo to finally be able to get this recognition that we are one of the best student sections in the nation, and the NCSSA agrees with us,” ZonaZoo marketing director Gabe Encinas said.
Voting was conducted solely on Twitter and required fans to use both a school-specific hashtag and a generic tweet.
Florida was a finalist with Arizona, and while exact voting totals haven’t yet been released, Encinas said the voting was close.
“They haven’t realized the official numbers, but when I was in contact with the director, we won by about 200 to 300 votes,” Encinas said. “It was pretty narrow, and we needed every single vote every single day to make it possible.”
ESPN ranked Arizona No. 1 in terms of best students sections in the Pac-12 Conference a little over a year ago.
“Further, a number of players, including former USC quarterback Mark Sanchez, have said Arizona is the toughest place to play in the Pac-12 other than Oregon’s Autzen Stadium,” ESPN’s Ted Miller wrote about Arizona.
Arizona athletes and coaches alike have reiterated that point all year long. Specifically, members of the football and men’s basketball teams have voiced their support for the ZonaZoo.
At his press conference announcing his decision to depart early for the NBA, Arizona men’s basketball forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson said he will miss the fans and the atmosphere in Tucson that he had during his two years as a Wildcat.
“I would just like to say thank you to the city of Tucson and our great fans over the last two years,” Hollis-Jefferson said. “The love you guys have showed me has been overwhelming. It’s not every day a kid where I’m from gets blessed with an opportunity like this, and I’ve just tried to embrace it.”
Follow Roberto Payne on Twitter.