Photos by Gavin Schlissel ’13
If you’ve been to a Princeton home football game you’ve probably heard them. They provide the shouts that punctuate the moments between plays. Or maybe you’ve even seen them: Their neon body paint reflects the fluorescent stadium light, framing the front rows of the student section with a dim orange halo.
They are a band of cheerleaders – but they aren’t the band, and they aren’t the cheerleaders. They call themselves RAWR, and they are an unofficial student group dedicated to spreading school spirit – especially at sporting events.
The group formed last year when Bianca Reo ’12 and Adeline Brown ’13 started an informal email list advertising body paint and “rabble rousing” on football game days. The club was a hit, attracting a core group of about 20 students who meet at Frist Campus Center to paint each other and plan chants for the game.
Under Reo’s leadership, RAWR has grown from eight members to as many as 50. “Our numbers go up and down depending on how the team is doing,” explained Reo. At this year’s home opener – a loss to Lehigh – the RAWR section had dozens of denizens, painted and screaming, waving homemade Princeton flags and playing chords on vuvuzelas.
But Reo’s commitment to Princeton football goes far beyond that of a typical fair-weather fan. She treats her support of the team like a responsibility. Late in the fourth quarter at last week’s Bucknell game, after the game was all but lost for Princeton, Reo shouted encouragement at the cheering section: “They’re still working hard on the field, so we’ve got to keep working hard up here!”
Reo and the most committed RAWR-ers paint themselves from toe to head: legs striped with orange and black and sleeves of orange crossed with tiger-stripes. On their chests are massive letters punctuated by numbers of players – Reo wears the number 17 for her boyfriend, a starting defensive back for the Tigers.
“We don’t go through as much paint as you would think,” said Reo. “It spreads pretty well.”
Gavin Schlissel ’13 is a molecular biology major from Moraga, Calif.