The Daily Wildcat recently spoke with the Executive Director of ZonaZoo, Marissa Simental for an interview via email.
A native of Tempe, Arizona, Simental is a senior majoring in Marketing and Management Information Systems. Simental is also a Marketing and Fan Engagement intern for Arizona Athletics and the director of External Affairs for the Sports Management Association.
Daily Wildcat: What is the history of ZonaZoo?
Marissa Simental: "ZonaZoo all started in 2002, making this year the 20th anniversary of the Zoo. It started with a couple of students, a t-shirt, and a vision. From then, ZonaZoo has become one of the best student sections in the country. After being officially recognized in 2003, ZonaZoo membership soared and created an unforgettable experience for students. Every year since then, ZonaZoo puts on many events year-round for members- like tailgates, Bear Down Fridays, events on the mall- and overall helps to bring support to our teams and student-athletes."
DW: Why did you join the ZonaZoo staff?
MS: "I decided to join the ZonaZoo staff because I joined ZonaZoo Crew my sophomore year. ZonaZoo Crew is a group of about 30 students who run all the operations for ZonaZoo. We plan the tailgates, Bear Down Fridays, ZonaZoo 5K and other events along with designing all the ZonaZoo merchandise and running the social medias. The experiences I had and the people I met on ZonaZoo Crew were so memorable and meant so much to me I wanted to be able to give back to ZonaZoo. It is something I have grown to be passionate about, so I decided, why not apply to be part of the executive team!"
DW: What sporting events is ZonaZoo at?
MS: "ZonaZoo is at basically every home sporting event along with a few away games. We go to every home football and men's basketball game, and a couple of games of all other sports, especially rivalry games against ASU."
DW: Will there be any COVID-19 protocols this year?
MS: "ZonaZoo is currently following all the university’s protocols regarding COVID-19 but as of now it is looking like we will have tons of in-person events again and a full capacity at games for the Zoo! It is going to be a super exciting time since we were not able to do anything last year, you do not want to miss out!"
DW: What is the difference between sitting in general seating and sitting in the ZonaZoo?
MS: "The main difference would be that ZonaZoo is only for students and exclusive to students who have purchased a ZonaZoo pass. General seating is for the public, like Tucson locals or alumni. Sitting in ZonaZoo is a whole other experience than sitting in general seating, ZonaZoo is always on their feet, being loud, crazy, and just creating hype for the team."
DW: Who is allowed to sit in the ZonaZoo?
MS: "Only students with a ZonaZoo pass are allowed to sit in the ZonaZoo sections at games. ZonaZoo passes are also only available to undergraduate and graduate students."
DW: Do you get any cool merchandise if you sit in the ZonaZoo?
MS: "ZonaZoo members get access to tons of cool giveaway items and merchandise throughout the year. At games you can get anything from shirts, rally towels, bucket hats and more. We also have tailgates before football and basketball games and you can get free food, like Raising Canes and Taco Bell, with your CatCard!"
DW: Do you have any personal stories of sitting in the ZonaZoo?
MS: "I have so many it is hard to keep track of them all. But I do have to say some of my best memories at the University of Arizona are from being in ZonaZoo and seeing our teams make history. One of my favorites would have to be beating ASU in [McKale Center] and just being able to be part of all the hype and energy that the student section brought that game."
DW: Why would you encourage incoming freshmen to be a part of the ZonaZoo?
MS: "I would encourage incoming freshman to be part of ZonaZoo because it is seriously one of the best decisions I could have ever made. In my opinion, it is almost an essential part of your freshman year to go to the games and be part of one of the best student sections there is. Some of the best memories I have had in college come from being with my friends in the Zoo and just going crazy. And the amount of cool ZonaZoo shirts and free food I have gotten at games throughout the years is a plus too!"
DW: How/where do you get tickets for ZonaZoo?
MS: "You can get ZonaZoo tickets on our website: zonazoo.squarespace.com. You can also find the link on our social media pages! Our Instagram is @zonazoooffical and our Twitter is @ZonaZooOfficial as well!"
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