In a crowd full of screaming men dressed in kilts and pounding on drums, freshman Alli Jacobs stands proud and joins in on the chants. For Jacobs, being part of the drum squad is just another little brave thing she is checking off of her college bucket list.
She is the only female member of the usually all-male Villa Drum Squad.
“I told myself that college was going to be a lot different from high school,”Jacobs said. “I was going to try to do little brave things going along because high school was kind of boring and I wanted college to be exciting and fun...And so my first little brave thing was to join the Villa drum squad because being surrounded by all of these guys is really intimidating.”
The Villa Drum Squad is known around the country as one of the best cheering sections for college soccer. The group attends every home game for both the men’s and women’s UP soccer teams. They also travel as much as possible with the teams. They make the trip up to Seattle when the University of Portland plays UW, they drive to Spokane to watch the Gonzaga games and even travel to California to follow the teams.
The drum squad is made up of members of Villa Maria Hall, an all-male dorm on campus.
Traditionally, the group has been mostly made up of residents of Villa Maria Hall. But not this year.
The squad is not as exclusive as some people might think. Senior Jacob Whitfield, one of three captains on the squad, was quick to point out that the group is open to anyone that wants to join. They have had men from other dorms and women on the drum squad before, but, the squad does usually consist of mostly Villa residents.
“Anyone can do it but she seems like someone that has stepped up and kind of bought into what we do,” Whitfield said. “It is not as exclusive as people think but I guess it is a little uncommon for girls to quote unquote join because a lot of people just do their own thing.”
Jacobs learned of the squad this summer when she stayed in Villa for Leaven, a retreat for incoming freshmen. A fellow member of the drum squad told her that technically anyone could join the drum squad, no matter what dorm they lived in or gender they were.
“We are always open, I just think girls don't get into it as much as the Villa guys do,” Junior captain Robbie Sosin said. “Sometimes girls may think it is a little immature or overbearing to stand around in kilts and bang on drums but you get some people that are super into it, just like us and we love to have that kind of spirit.”
Jacobs was interested right away. She was told she could start out with the cowbell and move her way up to drumming.
“I have been cowbelling for the games, every home game we have had,” Jacobs said. “It has been really, really fun, it is so great. Through the drum squad I have actually made a lot of friends with the freshman guys that are from Villa that are in the drum squad. They are starting to recognize me and understand that I am a part of the squad now.”
Jacobs is a computer science major from Richland, Washington. She has always loved to cheer. Coming into college though, she knew she did not want to be a cheerleader but she really loved the spirit of the games and wanted to be part of the atmosphere.
In high school, Jacobs ran cross country but she always looked at sports like football or soccer and loved the crowd support those teams garnered.
“I like to get wild and crazy and scream and go nuts and the drum quad does that,” Jacobs said. “If they will go crazy then I will go crazy with them and I will have no problem just letting loose and going wild and having fun.”
Going crazy with the squad is just one of the little brave things Jacobs is doing here on The Bluff.
She has already let a friend cut her hair short, she rode the mechanical bull at Riverboat, and she just got certified to climb the rock wall and bellay, even though she is terrified of heights.
Jacobs is making her way down her list of brave things to do in college, checking off everything along the way.