On January 10th, energized University of Oregon fans packed into the Cooler Bar in Cal Young to watch the BCS National Championship game against Auburn on the biggest-in-town 15-foot projection screen.
The Cooler, which has been a Duck-supporting establishment since 1967, is dressed to the nines in Ducks banners, memorabilia, big screen TV’s, and a huge McArthur Court sign. Even on a normal day, it’s clear this place is dedicated to the Ducks. But today is Game Day, National Championship Game Day to be exact, and Duck fans decked out in head to toe green and yellow swarm The Cooler. Beers are flowing, shots are lining up, pizzas are being carried over green and yellow afros, and hot wings are flying; the atmosphere here is undeniable in this classic Eugene establishment.
University of Oregon student Rachel Gilbertson says she comes to The Cooler because it’s fun, near campus, it’s usually pretty packed, and because the Duck’s rock.
The Cooler is not a designated student bar, nor is it a resident only hang out. It’s a place where students, residents, kids (until 8pm), and old-timer Duck fans can come together to celebrate one common love: Ducks football. The Cooler shows all Duck and NFL football games.
Janis Ballard, a long-term resident of Eugene, has a very specific prediction for the score of the game; she says the Ducks will win 58-31. Other fans have no specific score guesses, just lots of hope. Shannon Hamilton, a life-long Duck fan, says, “I only have one hope; I hope we win like we did at Stanford.” When asked about the atmosphere at The Cooler, he says, “There’s high hope here…in more than one sense.”
The TV’s have been tuned to pre-game coverage since early morning, when dedicated fans started pouring into the bar to stake out their places for game time. Every five minutes, the countdown until the 5:30 PST kickoff time is shouted by all throughout the bar, echoing through the barn style roof, and out onto the back smoking deck where more fans bellow replies of excitement.
The Cooler worker, Mike Nolen, when asked about the spirit of the season and of the team in general, says, “The spirit of the season has just been amazing. We started off the season really strong with LaMichael James, and it’s incredible to end on such a positive note as going to the National Championship.”
Duck fans across the bar, and the nation, concur that going to the BCS National Championship Bowl in Glendale, Arizona, is the opportunity of a lifetime for the University of Oregon. Whatever the outcome of the game, Duck fans will be somewhere sporting their green and yellow attire, cheering “Win the day, I love my Ducks, and Ooooo,” for all to hear.