Panda game
Did you miss Panda? Photo: Parker Townes/Fulcrum
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“It’s something special, and we’re united by that”

It’s that time of year!

Panda Game is one of the most anticipated days of the year for University of Ottawa students, staff, and alumni. The football team will take the field at TD Place to matchup against their crosstown rivals, the Carleton Ravens, with the goal of keeping Pedro in Gee-Gees possession. 

While U of O students agree that there are plenty of reasons to be excited for Panda, like the tailgates, the game itself, and the afterparties, what do other Gee-Gees athletes consider their favourite parts of the annual fall tradition? 

Obviously, the Gees football team is on centre stage during the Panda Game, but a football game is not complete without cheerleaders. 

Rebecca Snider has experienced the Panda Game from the sidelines as part of the Gee-Gees cheer club. 

“I love how members of the university, both alumni and current students, come together to support the football team,” Snider said. “It’s like a family.”

Another veteran to the cheer squad, Dana Gray, noted in an interview how it feels to be a part of such an incredible game. 

“The crowd is always so hyped to be there and it gets me excited to cheer on the sidelines,” Gray said. 

Snider, Gray, and the rest of the cheer team play a major role in getting fans excited and building up the atmosphere for everyone in the stadium. 

“The best part about Panda is the environment this event creates,” Snider said. 

“I can feel the adrenaline around me from the players and my teammates,” Gray added. 

Other student-athletes get the opportunity to enjoy the game and be in the stands, cheering on their comrades on the football team. 

A back row on the men’s rugby team, Wahid Hamidi, claims that the feeling in TD Place during Panda Game is completely different from other games. 

“As a student-athlete, my favourite part of Panda is taking in the unique atmosphere led by students from both the U of O and Carleton,” Hamidi said. “The experience from fans during this game is special, it’s unlike any other game all season.”

Unfortunately, some athletes are on the road and competing in their own games while Panda takes place, but the ones on campus do not miss it. Athletes know the influence the crowd can have on a game, and that’s why Gee-Gees teams make sure to head to the game wearing all their garnet and grey and support the football teams. 

Aurélie Dubuc, goaltender for Gee-Gees women’s hockey, and her team, surely do their part. 

“My favourite part about Panda is to have fun with my team, and cheering as hard as we can,” Dubuc said. 

Guillaume Pepin, a star on the men’s basketball team, thinks that the crowd showing up in their Gee-Gees attire is special. 

“Just the fact of having thousands of people all representing and rooting for the same thing,” Pepin said. “We all have the Gee-Gee in common and are representing the U of O.”

“It’s something special, we’re all united by that.”