If you have attended a U of M Bisons home game on a Friday night, you’ve definitely seen—or at the very least heard—the Big Horns.
They are a fired-up group of students who roam the stands and make life very difficult for opposing teams through their noise and energy. The Big Horns were envisioned by brothers Kenney and Kevin Oliver, and brought to life by co-founders David Grad and Steve Setka.
Grad explained that the Oliver brothers were hanging out one day when they thought, “‘Hey, how cool would it be if we threw on these hats [like the Water Buffalo fraternity from the Flintstones] and started showing up to games?’”
One of the main goals of the Big Horns is to get the attention of the opposing team. The Big Horns are collectively very loud. The group hurls out creative heckles and chants to the beat of an improvised rhythm section.
“Really, we just want our Bisons to win,” said Grad.
“They’re students and they’re athletes; we want to support them, we want them to feel good.”
Aside from the heckles and cheers, the other important detail about being a member of the Big Horns is the uniform; the most essential accessory is the Bison horns, but the faux-fur tunic is also strongly recommended.
“The hats we purchased from the book store,” said Grad. “[For] the fur costumes we actually went to a shop in town called Mitchell Fabrics and just bought a ton of fur.”
“The outfits are custom-made by the individual who sports them,” Setka added.
A key behind-the-scenes contributor to the Big Horns is Sarah Jasman. She originally helped a lot of the other members sew their outfits together.
The Big Horns’ presence at games has affected Bison coaches and athletes.
Women’s hockey head coach Jon Rempel enjoys what the Big Horns add to Bisons home games.
“I think they’re great. I think it’s nice to have some environment in the building where some people are actually making noise and not just sitting there, so I thought those guys are outstanding,” said Rempel, adding, “I’d like to have them at every game.”
Manitoba quarterback Jordan Yantz is a fan of the additional support.
“The more people and the more support that we can get from our school and our fans and our other student athletes [the better],” said Yantz.
“It takes the players to a whole new level and brings the excitement out. It brings an atmosphere that you want to perform in.”
The group has become a welcome presence at all Bison home games, and the founders are optimistic that the Big Horns’ presence will continue to increase each week.
“We want to keep growing that [presence] bigger,” Setka said. “I think in one or two months, to have a group of that size is a success.”
For further information about the Big Horns, please look up their Facebook account, (facebook.com/thebighorns), their Twitter account (@TheBigHorns1), or their email firstname.lastname@example.org