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Bowl with The Bears - Barbour and Tipoti | Cheadle and Schwartz | Tavecchio | Tedford After winning three of its last four games to end the regular season with a 7-5 record, the Cal football team is returning to the postseason in 2011 after a one-year hiatus last season. The Golden Bears, who made seven consecutive bowl appearances from 2003-09, and the entire Cal football community are elated to be headed to a bowl game in 2011 and can't wait to find out exactly where they are going.
In the days leading up to the game, not only the team, but students, alumni, fans, and everybody associated with the program and the Cal community comes out in full force to cover the town with blue and gold. Natives of the host city will no doubt hear the Cal Band marching up and down the city streets and see Rally Com students, cheerleaders and yell leaders getting fans fired up as they sing all of the traditional school songs. They may even bump into Cal's lovable mascot, Oski, as he strolls around town.
The competition isn't only on the gridiron the day of the game. Fans will get into the spirit of the game watching the Cal Band in a "battle of the bands" with the other team's band over the course of the week's events prior to the game.
"When the other team has a band, we usually have some type of battle where we play towards each other," band member Jeff Wayland said. "It's all in good fun, all in good sportsmanship. It's nice to have another band to play against because we don't usually have that at our home games."
The Cal Band wants to represent the university just as well as the football team and puts in a lot of hard work in doing so. Besides the logistical issue of traveling 234 band members, they learn an entire halftime show in one day, concentrating more than ever to perform at the high level that Cal fans have come to expect.
"A bowl game is a totally different animal because we're in a completely new place," Wayland said. "We try to preserve all the traditions we have like marching up to the field. There's a lot of work that goes into that. The tradition would be trying to preserve the traditions that we do on normal games. We try to bring Bear Territory to wherever we're going. "
In addition to the band, the Rally Com and yell leaders have just as much of an importance with keeping Cal fans pumped up for the game. It's their goal to attend as many of the events during bowl week as they can and keep every fan excited for the game.
"During the week, the alumni association sets up a lot of events for Cal fans because people want to explore the city," yell leader Aaron Eslamboly said. "We go to every single event - the yell leaders, the band, the dance team, the cheerleaders. We all get there and do a small rally at as many events that we can get to. We get people fired up for the game. We let the people know that the Bears are coming to town."
Representing Cal to the fullest isn't just a task for the current undergrads. All Cal alums are encouraged to come out and represent their alma mater, as well.
Caroline Allum, Class of 2005, has been to numerous bowl games both as a student and alum. She takes in the full experience of traveling to a bowl game. Usually traveling with former members of the Cal Spirit group from back when they were undergrads, Allum and her friends explore the sights and tourist attractions of the host city. They not only meet up with other Cal fans, but they also make friends with fans from the opposing team.
"The best memory of bowl game is being able to share the trip with new people," Allum said. "If you're a student, you're inevitably going to make some new friends and have a great time doing it. You're around people for such a long time that you really get to know them. Once you're an alum, it's all about trying to reconnect with some of the people that you used to go to school with, or even bringing in new friends and family and showing them what the Cal experience is all about."
One of the biggest events for Cal fans is the rally the night before the game. It's an event that is open to the public and is put on by the California Alumni Association (CAA), Cal Athletics and the Cal Spirit groups. The whole Cal community comes together for that last big event before the game the next day.
Joanie Carpenter, Class of 1967, works with the CAA and has loved being able to work at events during bowl games in years past.
"As an employee of the Cal Alumni Association, I get to go and work at the games, which is a great way to get to go," Carpenter said. "I get to go to a lot of the events and I get to watch the game. I love the opportunity and I can't wait to go to the 2011 bowl game. The CAA typically has several get-togethers throughout the week, opportunities where you get to hang out with all the fans. Most often, they're evening events, and it's a great way to connect with the Cal family, feel the energy of all the fans and I get to see a ton of my friends. "
Wherever Cal ends up playing its 2011 bowl game, that city had better be prepared to become Bear Territory.