Wearing a BYU flag tied as a cape and a royal blue clown wig, with a face painted blue, 13-year-old Zach Hosman stood anxiously near the exit tunnel at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Three seconds remained on the game clock in the “Holy War” he had come to watch. His Cougars would have one final play, but they were down 27-31. Only a touchdown could give them victory.
A nearly-tangible tension settled over the stadium as the ball was snapped for the final play. Quarterback John Beck started moving to his left, then, under pressure, began shuffling to his right. In what seemed a near-desperate throw from deep right field, Beck hoisted the football into the air and it went sailing … right into the hands of BYU tight end Jonny Harline, who was alone and open in the end zone.
The 13-year-old-boy erupted into cheers as the sea of crimson red around him went silent.
That was 2006. Now, eleven years later, Hosman is a BYU student and will serve as president of the Roar of Cougars, or the ROC, this year.
Hosman plans to bring the same Cougar spirit of his youth into his leadership of the BYU student section — because for him, cheering on the Cougars is a way of life.
“(I have) always bled blue,” he said.
Hosman grew up watching nearly every BYU football game. After his family moved to Utah when he was eight years old, they developed the tradition of attending the BYU-Utah football game every year.
When he submitted his application to be president of the ROC, he was intent on conveying his lifelong devotion.
“I made a bold move and I put six pictures that helped describe my commitment to BYU on my resume,” he explained.
The photos — including photos of Hosman donning blue clown wigs, a painted face and a megaphone at sporting events — made an impression on Spencer McGhie, last year’s ROC president who assisted in the ROC president selection process.
“We really liked it because the ROC president holds a lot of responsibility, but it’s also important that we have someone who wants to have fun,” McGhie said.
The fun on Hosman’s resume didn’t end there. Line items included “Spotlighted on the front of the Deseret News sports section, shirtless with BYU on my chest” and “Went without a voice for the majority of the school year.” His objective? “Lead the ROC to victories over Utah in every sport possible.”
While Hosman had abundant evidence of his love for the Cougars on his application, he also had two years of experience with the ROC. He served on the ROC board during the previous school year and volunteered with the ROC the year before that. He often assisted football, men’s basketball and women’s volleyball games.
Carson Crosby, one of the vice presidents of the ROC last year, said Hosman was a reliable helper to the ROC leadership.
“He always took initiative if we needed volunteers,” Crosby said. “He was one of the first ones to step up, and we could count on him to help out where he was needed.”
Ryan Rasmussen, another vice president last school year, said Hosman was a big help as the ROC implemented a new system to manage the line of camping students.
“(The ROC board members) were the people that had to make sure that (the system) was happening and that (the line) was moving,” Rasmussen said. “(Hosman) volunteered to do line checks that were a little later in the night or early in the morning.”
Hosman said the unique Cougar spirit is what he loves about the student section and why he is excited to lead the ROC.
“At BYU, in the ROC and that student atmosphere, it feels like we’re one of those power five teams because there’s just so much devotion to BYU sports,” he said. “We just have this love for BYU and we will go toe-to-toe with anybody about it and I love that.”
As the fall sports season approaches, Hosman is excited to use not only his leadership skills but also his life-long Cougar spirit as he leads the student section.
“I love the energy that the ROC has and am looking forward to working with that,” he said.
Aside from his leadership experience in the ROC, Hosman has also been involved in other leadership opportunities during his time at BYU. He currently works as an EFY coordinator and served as co-president of the eClub, BYU’s Entrepreneurship Club.
Experience from those positions should help Hosman as he works with the ROC board to fill the ROC section for the season opener against Portland State on Aug. 26. The game takes place before fall semester begins.
“We’re worried about how many students will have moved back to Provo already (and) who’s going to be coming to the game,” Hosman said. “We’ve got to make this football team feel welcomed and loved at the beginning of the season.”
When football season arrives, Hosman will take on the responsibility to oversee student camping outside the stadium.
“We always have someone (from the ROC board) camping and kind of just overseeing that everything goes okay and there in case any problems happen,” Hosman said.
He will also assist the ROC board in efforts to make camping an enjoyable experience.
“We try to supply the ROC and all the people that camp out with some kind of reward as well because they put a lot of time and sacrifice into camping out all those hours, especially on the cold nights,” he said.
While there are many items to attend to in his capacity, Hosman said he has a priority.
“The main goal for me as the ROC president is (the) in-game atmosphere,” he said.
ROC members can expect the return of ROC traditions such as singing “Turbulence” between the third and fourth quarters as a massive BYU flag envelops the ROC section, Hosman said.
“It wouldn’t be a football game without that,” he said.
While he loves the ROC atmosphere in general, Hosman said he is particularly looking forward to the Sep. 9 game against Utah. It will be the first time the Utes have played at LaVell Edwards Stadium since 2013.
“I think the Utah game is going to be incredible for so many reasons,” he said. “That atmosphere will just be insane.”
In preparing for the Utah game, Hosman said the ROC board is developing methods to make the line manageable.
“Last year for UCLA was the longest line we’ve ever had, and I know that it’s going to be beat by the Utah game,” he said.
The line system, according to Hosman, is always a concern. However, he said it has pros and cons.
“You want to keep the students happy, but at the same time use the best system for being fair to everybody as well as get the most students that you can into the ROC and make sure that it’s always filled,” he said. “I don’t know that it will ever have a perfect solution.”
Hosman said he sees the line as an improvement to the system he experienced before leaving on his LDS mission. At the time, students signed up for randomly assigned season tickets with a friend group. Hosman said sometimes the most invested fans had to sit at the top.
“Ever since having the line, I’ve been able to sit in a lot better seats,” he said. “I feel like the line is something that actually really helps the students.”
Hosman said while the line has its critics, it becomes a non-issue once students enter the ROC.
“It doesn’t matter if people don’t like the line or they like the line,” he said. “Once they’re in that stadium, all problems and concerns are gone, and it is all focused on BYU and winning the game and cheering as loud as you can.”