Old and True, Bronze and Blue
As summer golds fade to bronze, the autumn breeze blowing in brings more than just colorful leaves and cooler temperatures. University campuses spring to life as students move in, classes begin, players hit the field, and fans hit the bleachers.
The start of UCO’s football season draws thousands of spectators each year, as the red-orange hues of the leaves are overwhelmed by the bold blue and bronze of the Broncho fans. Among UCO’s most loyal sports fans, two in particular stand above the crowd in their dedication and enthusiastic support for the Bronchos.
Bryce Boyland, 12, has been rooting for the Bronchos for as long as he can remember. He started his career as a UCO fan several years ago when he traveled to volleyball games with his father Jeff Boyland, coach of the UCO women’s volleyball team. Bryce quickly became the team’s biggest and favorite fan, cheering them on at every home and away game.
“The players always love to hear him cheering above the crowd as they play,” says coach Boyland. Bryce, who prides himself on being UCO’s best and youngest fan, has been a dedicated regular at UCO football, basketball and volleyball games ever since.
It was at the volleyball games that Bryce was first noticed and then adopted by the “Old Blue Crew” – UCO’s official spirit group dedicated to supporting Broncho Pride. Even though Bryce is the youngest of the crew, he’s also one of the oldest members. As a member of the Blue Crew, Bryce is responsible for “just going to as many games as I can, and cheering as loud as I can.”
And cheer loudly he does. At volleyball games, Bryce sits close to the UCO bench, decked out in his UCO volleyball shirt and hat. At basketball games he sports a referee shirt, and on the football field, Bryce dresses in blue amidst the other Blue Crew members on the sidelines, beating boom sticks on the field, or performing push-ups for the crowd when the team scores.
At the other end of the age spectrum is 73-year-old Leroy Coffman, a UCO alumnus addicted to UCO football and basketball. “It’s a toss-up between football and basketball,” Coffman says, “I like to watch the one that’s winning.”
Coffman always wears his Broncho gear to games and proudly flies his UCO flag at home and on his car on game days.
Even though Coffman claims he “loves it most when they win,” he also says he likes watching UCO games because most of the players are playing for fun rather than just for the victory. “It’s real athletics, as far as I’m concerned,” he says, “It’s just bronze and blue.”
Last year, UCO’s basketball team made it to the Elite Eight in the national championships and Coffman traveled to Massachusetts to see the team play. “One of the fun things was meeting some of the team coming off the bus,” he recalls. “They were shocked to see some people there from Oklahoma cheering them on.”
Coffman laughs as he relates the many encounters he’s had with other UCO fans at away games. At a road game in New Mexico he ran into two UCO alums. That was neither the first nor the last time he encountered UCO alumni who have come for miles just to see their team. “Those are special times when you realize there’s people way out there … who would drive all that way to see UCO play,” Coffman says.
After living overseas for awhile, Coffman returned to Edmond, in part, to be closer to his alma mater. “I’ve always had an attachment to Central,” he says. “I always thought of Central as a special place … and I came back and found it still was.