The University of Arizona football team opened its season on Saturday, Sept. 3, in San Diego, California. After the team's first home game at Arizona Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 10, the season is in full swing and it's game-on for Makenzie Stratton and her fellow UA pomline members.
“As soon as you step out the door, especially in uniform, game day face is on,” Stratton said, a senior and one of two team captains.
We caught up with Stratton as the team was weeks into practices for the start of the season. The pomline, the UA’s official dance team, has 24 members and is part of the Pride of Arizona marching band that supports UA athletic teams. Football is arguably the team’s biggest spotlight, with some games regionally and nationally televised. We asked Stratton about how the pomline prepares and her tips on having the best Wildcat game day experience.
Q: What is your gameday routine like?
A: “Depending on what time the game is, it could be a 16-hour day of dancing. We usually have practice in the morning 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. with the band. We’ll go over any media timeouts, sideline routines, halftime routine and any other little things that could be happening. From there, we have about two to three hours to run home, shower, eat a good lunch and get ready. We meet back at the field to do our Wildcat Walk, which is us introducing the football team back into the stadium. We have tailgates throughout the day, so we travel around and perform. When we have those few hours by ourselves, it's a lot of mental preparation and relaxing with a good energy drink — we love caffeine on game days.”
Q: What is something you want fans to know about this upcoming season?
A: “Last year was our first season back after COVID-19, so it was difficult to do a lot of things. Now that we've had a season behind us, I think the entire athletics program is really ready to jump headfirst into the season and hopefully bring home some Wildcat wins. There's a bunch of new ideas circulating around and we are really excited to elevate the program.”
Q: What is something fun, special and unique about pomline?
A: “I think one of the most unique things about our program, specifically, that I didn't really know going into my freshman year, is how much time we spend with the band. We really are a part of the Pride, and it is a huge time commitment — not only for pomline — but for the Pride as well. So much time and effort goes into every single little detail on game day that makes those days even more special.”
Q: What is the perfect game day itinerary for spectators?
A: “It's always funny to think about the other perspective because I've never really experienced any other side of game day other than pomline. I think Wildcat Walk is a great place to start. You get to be a few feet away from the players and see them and the coaches. The band, pomline and cheer also attend. Everyone feeds off their energy and it gets exciting. From there, you have tailgates. I think tailgating on the mall is the best thing. Everyone gets there at like 6 a.m. to find a spot and put up a tent, bus, or even trailer and spend the day barbequing. I think it's an absolute must, as well as watching kickoff in the stadium. I love Zona Zoo — they're the biggest supporters and it makes the experience so fun.”
Q: What goes in to prepping for game day?
A: “I think one thing people don't really think about is our white shoes. The shoes that we wear on game day get so dirty so fast. Every week I know I have to wash my performance shoes so that they're white and not grey. Another thing is thinking about washing your hair. I don't want my hair to be too clean on game day because it won’t hold curl, but it can't be too dirty because then it will be greasy. Even with spray tans, I time when to get them done. I can’t do it before practice because I can't sweat, but I also don't want to have the lights wash me out. It's just the little things that people don't think about but shoes is 100% the biggest thing that goes into game day prep. I also like to set up a little area the night before since game days so hectic. I’ll put my uniform, poms, earrings, clean shoes, snacks, energy drinks, makeup and all the other little things that I need to the side, just to make life a little easier.”
Q: What are you most nervous and excited about?
A: “I think I'm most nervous for taking on the role of captain. It is a lot of responsibility to lead this many girls and even though I've prepared for it for so long, it will amaze me everyday how much of a responsibility it is. It’s almost like I have like 23 of my own little kids. Football season just be overwhelming. It's a never-ending cycle of school, pom, eat, sleep, so that balance is something I'm always a little nervous about, but it's all good things so it always turns out well. I'm definitely most excited for senior year. Last year best year I put in so much time and effort these past three, not almost four, years. I love this program so much I'm just ready to go out with a bang.”
*El Inde Arizona is a news service of the University of Arizona School of Journalism.