Three friends embarked on a journey across the country in the name of Cougar football Tuesday morning.
Associated Students of Washington State University Vice President Kevin Massimino, Director of Finance Jared Powell, and friend Justin Shiver ventured on a 5,500 mile road trip to Auburn University to promote Cougar athletics.
The students will carry the flag known as Ol’ Crimson on their way to Saturday’s season opener, a flag that has appeared on 132 straight weeks of ESPN College Gameday.
The Wave the Flag movement began in 2003 by WSU alumnus Tom Pounds at the first ESPN College Gameday of the year
However, the road trip was an independent idea of Massimino.
“The movement that an alumnus started has been a way for us to identify ourselves as Cougar athletics and Cougar pride,” said Massimino. “We just want to add another chapter to that story.”
The idea came to Massimino back in January and has since become a reality. The students plan to stop in major cities along the way to Auburn to meet with Cougar alumni groups.
“The road trip is meant to reach out to Cougar alumni along the way and outreach to those who don’t know about WSU and the pride that we have,” Powell said. “We want to show them what it means to be a Coug.”
The exposure for the trip began Aug. 1 with over 1,000 likes on the road trip’s Facebook page within the first 48 hours.
Massimino said, “It was really cool to see that kind of feedback in such a short period of time. We have also had an equal amount of fans and alumni from Auburn reach out to us.”
The students were able to raise over $1,000 for the trip in that same time span. Donations will go to the Ol’ Crimson Booster Club to help cover the cost of shipping the flag to each College Gameday for years to come.
“It costs roughly $1,500 each year to fly the flag around the country,” said Powell. “The road trip is a way to fundraise their efforts.”
Donations for the trip have been through gofundme.com/wavetheflagroadtrip, a crowd funding site the students started in order to tell their story.
“So far we have raised $2,500 from 38 people, which is crazy,” said Powell. “Over half of that will be going to the booster club, which is really cool.”
Part of the donations will go toward travel expenses for the students. But a notification from International Management Group, the sponsorship group for WSU athletics, told the students Monday morning that corporate sponsors donated $1,000 in gas and food gift cards for them along the way.
“What this will make possible for us to do now is we’ll be able to donate even more of that fundraising money to the cause,” said Massimino.
The students will be live-tweeting the game, posting pictures and connecting with other students back in Pullman to fill them in on the experience.
“At the end of the day, we’re all college football-loving students and die-hard Cougs,” said Massimino. “The whole Wave the Flag movement started in order to bring College Gameday to Pullman.”
Donations are still being accepted at gofundme.com/wavetheflagroadtrip.
“From this movement, it won’t be too hard to bring Gameday here once we start winning more games because of all the efforts we’ve gone through,” said Powell. “The more money we can donate the better.”
Follow the students’ trip on Facebook at Facebook.com/WaveTheFlagRoadTrip, as well as their Twitter at @WaveTheFlagRT.