Published: November 17, 2014
By: Gracie Mock
At 6 a.m. every gameday in Aggieland, more than 200 students clock in to begin the task of transporting fans to campus and collecting money as fans park.
Nearly 85 percent of the transit and special events staffs are comprised of student workers, said Debbie Hoffmann, associate director of Transportation Services. These workers fill a number of roles that amount to the same goal — ensuring gameday transportation runs smoothly.
"We couldn’t do it without them," Hoffmann said. "We don’t have enough budgeted employees to fill all the positions it takes to manage the gameday experience. We rely on the students to fulfill these important roles to make a great experience for all the fans."
With regular crowds of more than 100,000 people in Kyle Field on gamedays, transit employee and finance senior Will Rushing said he probably buses at least 400 people to and from campus on gamedays. He said the atmosphere of these rides are different than the ride on an average day.
"Everyone is in much better moods," Rushing said. "[I] typically get high-fives and a lot more ‘thank yous’ than usual, especially if we win."
Rushing said drivers are paid more on gameday and that the extra money is worth the long day.
"I work on gamedays because I get paid through the game, even though I get to attend most of it," Rushing said. "It’s a best-of-both-worlds situation."
Transit employee and health senior Irma Lobaton said she doesn’t feel like she misses out on the gameday experience by working.
"I get to see people from both teams arrive with their families full of spirit ready to go tailgate and watch the game," Lobaton said. "I have experienced how pumped up and silly people can be with their friends. It is nice to see people having fun on a day that doesn’t involve school. Since our job is done about 15 minutes after kick-off, right after I have clocked out I go and meet my friends at the game."
Being around fans all day means seeing some of the most spirited, and interesting, gameday attire, Lobaton said .
"A friend of mine at a tailgate on one of the hottest game days had a Spanish poncho that had A&M colors and a huge A&Med out Mexican Sombrero," Lobaton said. "It was the most spirited but craziest outfit to wear, especially [given] how hot the day was. He must have lost about 10 pounds that day."
Transit employee and kinesiology junior Chase Brunson said RVs that come through College Station can get crazy.
"There’s a grill shaped like the Gig ’Em sign, several custom 12th Man buses, tents that look like helmets and RVs and trailers with Aggie wraps around them," Brunson said. "Not to mention the extensive set ups that come from average tents. The tailgating areas around Reed and over by Wehner are a great place to see things and sometimes you can even get a free meal from the tailgaters."
Not all student transit workers work on gameday, said transit assistant director Madeline Dillard.
"Those hired in the special events unit are required to work each football game and those working in other units sign up for the ones they want to work," Dillard said. "In transit, students get to choose their shifts based on seniority order. Our drivers sign up for gameday routes in May during our fall route selection process. As new drivers are hired throughout the summer and into the fall, they are allowed to sign up for any remaining game day shifts."
Hoffman said employees are given event manuals and route books covering operational plans, routes and frequently asked questions.
"Meetings occur with all employees and supervisors prior to the start of game day operations to discuss game day operations, routes, notable areas of campus and intersections, pregame and postgame plans, etc.," Hoffmann said. "Constant monitoring by supervisors, cameras, two-way radios and real-time bus information provided by our software system all assist with making game day operations run smoothly. Last, but not least, our supervisory staff provides in-the-field management of game day activities that ensures our operation is operating in the most effective and efficient manner possible."