At Ohio Stadium, the Buckeye football team and coaches are the rock stars. They go out, put on a memorable performance and soak in the adulation of their adoring fans.
But they’re not the only ones looking to ensure patrons have the best game experience possible. The Horseshoe’s Redcoats and ushers serve as ambassadors for the Department of Athletics, helping guests in many capacities during home football games.
Redcoats work home athletic events for multiple sports, from football to swimming to gymnastics. Their primary responsibilities include taking tickets, greeting guests, checking credentials and responding to guests’ questions, complaints and concerns.
But it isn’t all work for the Redcoats. The friendships and camaraderie they develop over the years comprise the No. 1 job perk, says program superintendent Dan Milligan, a longtime Redcoat himself.
Milligan remembers working a men’s ice hockey game years ago where the power went out mid-game. Wanting to make sure the fans received their refunds, he found a candle and wrote out refunds by candlelight so guests could return to watch the game the next day.
Naturally, the free home football game tickets the Redcoats receive are another big bonus.
Ushers, volunteers who work only home football games, are responsible for greeting guests, helping fans find their seats, assisting guests with disabilities and crowd management. Usher positions are highly sought-after; south stadium superintendent Larry Black was on a waitlist for years before he got a spot in the program.
During his 38 years with the program, Black has seen a lot of changes. For example, the south stands over which he presides seat 15,000 more fans than they did when he started.
But some things remain the same, says Black: “The fans want (the team) to win at all costs.”
The men and women who work as ushers and Redcoats are committed to helping their fellow Buckeyes and building friendships along the way, and the camaraderie keeps them coming back year after year. Many ushers and Redcoats have been with the program for upwards of 45 years, says Mike Penner, The Ohio State University’s associate athletic director for internal operations.
“Their dedication is unbelievable,” Penner says. “They love OSU, they’re proud of OSU … and when the fans leave, they want them to love OSU too.”
Hillary Doyle is a contributing writer. Feedback welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.