By Eric Wein
Arizona Daily Wildcat
During just about every one of the UA softball team's weekend day games at Hillenbrand Stadium, fans can hear cheers and taunts coming from across Second Street.
On the roof of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity house, members gather to cheer on the Wildcats while the team tries to dominate their latest opponent.
For a squad that doesn't seem to get as much student support as most top-ranked teams, the Phi Delts are loyal diehards. Their enthusiasm livens up usually lopsided Wildcat home games.
"They're all part of the atmosphere," UA coach Mike Candrea said. "We'd like to encourage them to continue their support."
"It's fun to get on the roof and pass the weekend away," fraternity president Ernie Gradillas said. "It shows spirit."
Just as most of the UA football and basketball teams' loyal fans religiously attend games, the Phi Delts rarely miss an opportunity to see the softball team play.
"It's the position of the house," fraternity member Mike Lowery said. "If this were a football stadium, it would be football."
Last Sunday, the Phi Delts ventured into the stands to get the crowd excited about the game. They sang "Bear Down" through megaphones, started cheers and got the crowd to do a rare wave.
The Phi Delts have a long tradition of watching Arizona's season opener from their roof every year. They make a habit of watching the Wildcats from across the street like fans at Wrigley Field in Chicago who watch the Cubs from the tops of apartments. But it's only through slight oversight that the Phi Delts still occasionally are seen up there.
"Actually, we're not supposed to be up there," Gradillas said. "The lease agreement says people are not supposed to be there."
Said Candrea: "They've been there a long time but at one time, I thought they condemned that roof."
Because it's all in good fun, nobody has really bothered them about getting down.
They have made a rule to not drink alcoholic beverages on the roof, which is a measure that was taken to prevent someone from falling off and to keep people from yelling unflattering statements. After all, they don't want fans to look across the street and think they're watching an impersonation of the Delta Tau Chi house from the movie "Animal House".
The Phi Delts have been a fixture long before the Wildcats mid
began piling up the national championships. Because their house is there, members used to watch when the field faced east and home plate was in the opposite corner. Now, because of the orientation of the new stadium, they can no longer see home plate from the roof Ä but they can see everything else.
The obstructed view does not take away from their enjoyment, however. A few of the fraternity's members are Arizona cheerleaders, so they get out megaphones and yell encouragement to the Wildcats while sometimes discouraging Arizona's opponents.
They have even had athletic department members go to their house and voice their encouragement. And if they're loud enough, the stadium announcer will acknowledge them and dedicate a song to them between innings.
Sometimes, they can harp on an opponent much like a Wildcat basketball fan will get on a UCLA player. Almost always, they will try their best to distract the opposing team's left fielder. But no matter what they say, it's all in fun.
However, they were told to tone it down when they were yelling inside the stadium during last Sunday's game.
"It wasn't too bad," Lowery said. "We thought that was kind of anal. We're a lot worse when we're on the roof."
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