Wandering Amylessly: Venturing into the BYU “Cougar Den”

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October 2, 2022

By Amy Larsen
Wyo4News featurer Writer

As a third-generation graduate from the University of Wyoming, I have known no other college athletic program outside of the Wyoming Cowboys. I mean, let’s be honest, there really isn’t any reason to invest in anything else. I am a Wyoming Cowboy through and through, brown and gold all the way.

On Saturdays, in the fall, my friends know that I will either be at War Memorial Stadium for a home game or trying to gather them up to go and watch the away game at a local establishment. On Sunday, I am tuned into one of the eight NFL teams that feature former Poke players. I follow that up on Monday at the office with a recap on how everyone did! There is never any doubt where my loyalty lies, even though I do hold a master’s degree from our rivals to the south. I truly “Ride for the Brand.”

Obviously, since birth, I have rooted for the Brown and Gold, and as an adult, I have embraced it full-on. My closet looks like perpetual fall colors with more Wyoming gear than anything else! Going to a smaller school, in a smaller state, well, you get to meet a lot of people, and they quickly become part of your story, part of your family. I think the reason I love going to War Memorial Stadium for home games has more to do with all the friends and family from so many stages of my life I get to reconnect with at various tailgates. You can not walk very far without running into someone you know. The same happens at the AA during basketball season. Every time I step on campus, I feel like I am at home, I belong. It honestly is my favorite thing to do!

Because of my experience in Laramie, I have always been intrigued by what it must be like to go to one of the large college football stadiums for a game. You know, the ones that could fit the 2 largest towns in Wyoming all in the stands and still have a few seats left over! I have seen stories done about the traditions at some of these stadiums and am just in awe of what the experience must be like. It has always been my goal to get to go to a game at Ohio, Texas A&M, or Notre Dame, not because of the team per se, but the ultimate college football experience. After my latest wanderings, I really can’t wait to go now, and I have no doubt that will be an adventure in the not so far away future.

Submitted photo by Amy Larsen

Growing up in a Wyoming Cowboy family, I was well aware of the bitter rivalry between the University of Wyoming and BYU. In fact, it wasn’t until I was a student at UW that I even knew about the Border War and the significant rivalry that it was for us as well. We always cheered loudly for the Cowboys to win, but against BYU, we cheered even louder for the Cougars to lose. It was an incredibly tense rivalry for many reasons that are not relevant to this article.

When BYU left the Mountain West in 2010, you would have thought the rivalry would end, but it didn’t! So, in 2016 when it was announced we would be playing them at the Poinsettia Bowl, there was no way I was going to miss that game! The same happened this year when I saw BYU on our schedule, and you can bet I had tickets the day they went on sale, even though it was in Provo. I wasn’t going to miss this rivalry game, especially knowing how few and far between they are.

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One thing I didn’t know or even pay attention to until I showed up at the game, however, was that LaVell Edwards Stadium is actually a huge stadium, and while it doesn’t have the capacity of the stadiums above, there would still be more people in attendance than the population of any place in Wyoming at that time! Fantastic. I would not only get to watch my beloved Cowboys play the rivals I grew up knowing but would also get to experience it in a large, packed stadium! Yep, a taste of that ultimate college football experience!

The experience was incredible! While I did not walk around their tailgate area, I could tell it was huge, with so many activities, games, and places to interact. It was possibly the longest pre-game show ever, but the atmosphere inside the stadium could best be described as electric. Really there was no detail overlooked, and honestly a surprise around every corner. The crowd was on their feet the whole time and completely involved in what was happening!

Photo submitted by Amy Larsen

They had a stand that sold “Cougar Tails,” basically a very large maple donut, which apparently is a fan favorite as everyone around us had them. So, of course, we had to get one too! I kept trying to think if War Memorial had a signature treat and couldn’t come up with one, not a complaint, just something you can do with 63,000 people in attendance.

Several time-outs were filled with activities on the field, with the energy never leaving the stands. It honestly was everything I had imagined an experience in a large stadium would be, and I can’t wait to go to an even bigger stadium with even more traditions now!

I would be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to tip my cowboy hat to the BYU fans and the workers at LaVell Edwards Stadium. They truly added so much, if not made, the experience. From the moment we stepped on the bus to the stadium, we were welcomed and thanked for coming to the game. More than once, I was given a fist bump on the way into the stadium with cheers for a good game.

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As we stepped into line to have our tickets scanned, fans guided us to shorter lines, talked with us, and genuinely were excited to have the Brown and Gold in their stadium. We were walked to our seat section, asked about our drive to the game, and more than once thanked for making the drive and how appreciated it was.

They acknowledged the “Black 14” and welcomed the Wyoming Cowboys onto the field with their marching band playing our fight song! At the end of the first quarter, the BYU alumni brought over ice cream to the UW section, again thanking us for coming to the game. I laughed at one point and said, “they are really making it hard for me not to like them!”

War Memorial will always be my home, but BYU did their best to make sure every fan felt at home as well. Well done, Cougars, even though I will still continue to cheer against you!

Submitted photo by Amy Larsen

While I did have an incredible experience in a large stadium, I can not wait to return to War Memorial Stadium and the AA. The entertainment, treats, and experience is still nothing compared to gathering with Wyoming fans, many of whom of which I have known most of my life. I will, however, be more aware of how I am welcoming the visiting fans, or even other Cowboy fans, into a place I call home and hope they walk away telling everyone that even though Wyoming is small, they had an incredible cowboy experience!

As always, “Let’s Go, Pokes!!”

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