TUCSON – One dashboard will read “Gatos”, the other “Leñadores”. Mariachi will perform before and during the match.
Saturday night’s clash between the University of Arizona and northern Arizona won’t be your regular college football reunion.
It will also be Hispanic Heritage Night at Arizona Stadium, the iconic celebration of a university determined to honor Hispanic Heritage Month, which kicked off Wednesday. The scoreboards will reflect this with the Spanish translation of the schools’ nicknames: Wildcats and Lumberjacks.
The university intends to celebrate not only the Hispanic / Latin community on campus, but also in Tucson.
The city is 43.6% Hispanic / Latinx, according to the US Census. With such representation in Tucson, the Wildcats Sports Department believes it is important to ensure that Hispanic heritage is recognized and celebrated properly.
The university wants to make diversity and inclusion a priority, and it hopes this will be reflected in Hispanic Heritage Month.
“Hispanic Heritage is the biggest celebration we have because this is the largest minority group in Tucson and we want to represent this rich culture that they have,” said Thomas Harris, associate athletic director for Diversity and L ‘inclusion.
Harris said he took the job of helping educate sports department professionals about diversity and creating safe and culturally competent spaces for athletes, including those from the Hispanic / Latin community.
His priority is not only to teach staff about the diversity of cultures, he said, but also to have representation across staff that allows athletes to see people who are like them.
“As a student-athlete, you need staff who are like you,” Harris said. “There are certain barriers that people encounter, and if staff are able to identify with a student-athlete, those barriers are easier to overcome. “
To highlight the culture, Saturday’s game will feature a special Hispanic / Latinx-themed Wildcats logo created by the university, as well as scoreboards that recognize the teams’ nicknames.
A video featuring Hispanic / Latin athletes and sports department staff will be shown in the stadium before the game and on the university’s social media accounts.
“Student-athletes respond well, they feel honored and they feel seen,” said Harris. “That’s the whole story.”
Roberta Stout, a native of Tucson and a staff member in the sports department, helped organize the halftime performance. She described the Hispanic Heritage show as “the jewel” of the celebration.
The halftime show will include the participation of local community groups.
“Being able to recognize culture and how it has influenced our city and our campus is important,” Stout said. “It’s great to bring this to light. “
Because the university has a strong Hispanic representation, the sports department felt it was important to show respect for the culture, not only during Hispanic Heritage Month and the football game, but by constantly showcasing the Spanish language. As of fall 2020, 26.2% of college enrollments were Hispanic from Latinx.
On August 2, the Wildcats Sports Department created Spanish-language social media accounts under the name “Arizona Athletics en Español” to meet the needs of the Spanish-speaking fan population who follow the university’s athletic programs.
An apoya @ArizonaFball cuando los Wildcats take part in NAU at 19 pm El sábado in the Arizona stadium durante el juego anual de la herencia hispana. Vamos por Todo!
Game day information: https://t.co/4GmRbsuB0d pic.twitter.com/5ilTb3EkVw
– Arizona Athletics in Spanish (@AZAthleticsEsp) September 17, 2021
The social media accounts are published entirely in Spanish and are hosted by Francisco Romero, a native of Tucson and the voice of Arizona sports.
“Growing up, I thought college was out of reach, but it wasn’t,” Romero said. there for you.”
Romero said he had worked for the Arizona Sports Department since 1999 broadcasting matches in Spanish and said it was the oldest Spanish broadcast in college sports.
He is joined in the pit by Jorge Leyva and Marco Rincon, who will respectively comment on colors and play-by-play for Saturday’s game.
Levya has been the play-by-play voice in Spanish for Wildcats football games for almost five years.
“It just makes sense to serve the demographic that makes up almost half of the community,” Leyva said.
The university has a wide reach in southern Arizona, and Leyva is grateful that the athletic program has the tools to reach out to the surrounding community in a way that relates directly to them.
“Being associated with something so ingrained in the Tucson community motivates me to keep going,” he said.
Comments regarding past Hispanic Heritage Day celebrations have been well received. The Sports Department is committed to keeping the Hispanic / Latin community well represented.