We are talking today with Cal Mic Man Aaron Eslamboly. For those new to Cal sports, the Mic Men (sometimes including women) help pep up the fans at games with their chants and cheers. They have a long tradition of generally being OK with some really, really good ones mixed in. The current head Mic Man, Aaron Eslamboly, is one of those good ones. He brings a passion and a love to the games that you can really tell. A great Mic Man can really engage the student section and change the complexion of the arena. A great Mic Man can make that 12th Man or 6th Man really play a key role in the football or basketball game. It is always great to have a really top notch Mic Man. I asked Aaron to write an intro and this is what he wrote:
When I was first asked to do this Q&A, I was super excited. How often do you get to be featured on CGB? So I got a small sense of celebrity. But I decided I'd put off this Q&A until most of Cal Athletic seasons were over so that I can put my experiences to date into the answers. A little about me in a nutshell. I'm a Golden Bear Class of 2013, so I got one more year in me; that's right I'm not going anywhere! I study Media Studies and Business and will hopefully be attending Law School after my senior year right here at Cal. On a side note, in doing so I hope to probably stay close to Cal Athletics. I'm really involved in athletics because that's the industry I would like to get involved in after law school: Sports Management. Think Jerry Maguire and sports agents. I was born and raised in Los Angeles and love that city the same way I love our campus. If I'm not at a Cal Athletics game, you would find me writing away until my fingers fall off. But when you look at me, you know me as the Mic Man, like most people do. So here it is: a look at what we the Mic Men do and the guys we are.
This is the first part of the interview. There was so much MicMan-y goodness, we had to split it up. Part 2 will run tomorrow. Aaron's answers are after the jump. Thanks to Aaron for taking the time to provide amazing answers. GO BEARS!1. What made you decide to become a mic man? Did your friends have to convince you to try out?
I came to my first Cal Football game, saw the guy in the tie telling me what to do and leading the section while being a badass and I was convinced. That was it. That coupled with the fact that I love being in front of a crowd - having a stage personality and presence and that I'm a born leader - always at the front of a crowd. I wanted to rep the school that I love and I wanted to be a leader. You put them together, and you have the Mic Man.
2. How bad were you when you tried out? Or, were you the 3rd person ever to be immediately good at mic-manning?
There's almost nothing that gives you the experience to be ready to be a Mic Man. There's pretty much nothing like it anywhere else. So to be able to get up there and own it (unless you're one of the first two guys who started it) is pretty unlikely. I wasn't great, but I wasn't bad either. I kept the crowd into it and I had them going. Nothing amazing, just enough. I did make a really bad mistake during my tryout though, when I was pressured by Rope-Coach to get the stadium loud. I tried for a 1st down bears, but we were kicking. One of my few rookie mistakes as a Mic Man.
3. What has been the best game (any sport) that you've worked so far?
I am a basketball guy, especially because I'm from LA. Take me back February 27th, 2010, the night we beat Arizona State to clinch the Pac-10 Title in over 50 years. I still have confetti that flew from the rafters that night saved in my room. I'll never forget that night. And I take it upon myself with any influence I have to see a night like that happen again in Berkeley at Haas Pavilion.
4. Any good perks for being a mic-man? Or at least, do you get to meet interesting people?
We get some really cool gear. I get field and court access to all the games. And as a Mic Man, I've gained a sense of celebrity. People recognize me here and there. I've gotten into several parties based on being mic man and players have looked out for me from time to time.
And the players also get to know me, which is a huge perk for me, because what student doesn't want to be friends with a famous athlete, especially one that is your peer? I love meeting these guys not only because they are amazing but I have so much respect for them for what they do (carry a college course load at this school and be an athlete) and that's why I support them.
I also get to meet famous people too, like broadcasters. Some famous people I've seen while on the job: Steve Kerr, Reggie Miller, Gary Payton, Joe Kapp, Joe Starkey....the list goes on.
We also get to miss some school for travel which is nice.
But overall, I get to make some good contacts. And with the tie, people are always willing to listen to me.
The biggest perk as that I get to LEAD my peers and represent the school I love.
5. AT&T Park: How not-fun was it for you to try to work around?
I'm not going to lie. It was a really beautiful place to play. But for our purposes, especially the student section, it wasn't functionally sufficient. We tried our best to make it work, but as the student turn-out showed, nobody wanted to be there. After USC, it was just a decline. That, and you can ask Rally Comm about this (firstname.lastname@example.org), card stunts were put on halt. Because it was a ball park, any noise we tried to get out of the students, flew up into the air. So cross stadiums were out of the question too. The fact that students didn't feel like they had an impact added with the distance to get there (bart plus a muni/walk, while plastered for most students) was not worth the football game they were going to see. On top of that, we had speaker issues almost every game, and couldn't even go to the house like we could at Memorial (except for the 2 rare times we were able to on the jumbotron but that wasn't efficient and couldn't be done as easily and impromptu as it was at memorial). I just know it is going to make this upcoming season that much sweeter. People (especially the students), will be hungry for the Cal football they missed. We'll fill those stands this year. 63,000 strong baby.
6. Do the mic men ever get heckled? What is that like?
I have really thick-skin. But I've seen the heckling abate in my time since I've been here. I credit that to some of the work that I've put in to advancing what the Mic Men do and how we perform at games. Sometimes I'll see students just laugh at how insane I am during a game. I play it off as jealousy. They think I don't see them, but I do. Also, I've gotten into it with some students before when they are not into the game or just want to sit there like an old fart. I mean, why come to game if you're gonna get into it, right? Why not support your peers in winning? We also get some older people who always tell us to get out of the way. But that's a select few. Most Alumni and Cal Fans like us to come over and lead a yell. The worst thing is just when people don't know WHO we are. That's worse. I'll say I'm a Mic Man and people will say "what's that?" Then I'll say, you know those guys with the ties who yell their heads off, then they'll say "oh yeah!"
7. Do you have any interactions with opposing players or coaches? Any good dirt?
I have a dream where I'm on the court and it's a media time out, and while the opposing team is coming out onto the court from their bench, I'm leading a yell and one of the opposing players gets so annoyed and irritated with me that he physically pushes me aside in front of all 12000 fans at Haas. And the press just eats it up and blows it out of proportion. That'd be awesome.
However, at the NCAA Finals for Women's Volleyball, we beat USC in the Semi-finals to head to the finals against Penn State. Penn State head coach was watching from the sidelines and taking notes on our girls because we were kicking USC's ass and he knew we were gonna meet in the finals. At the end of the game, I walked up to him and said: I hope you took good notes coach. We'll see you tomorrow night." He laughed and walked away.
I also told Sean Miller to get off his knees one time.
Damien Lillard and his family also told me they were going to jump me after a game one time. I was heckling him because Jorge locked him up and got him to score a season low 14 points which isn't bad compared to most but he was averaging 26 so it was bad for him. I was giving him a hard time about it, and his family that was all from Oakland was at the game, and they came up to me after the game and gave me a hard time. They said they knew where my dorm was, that they were going to jump me...all this nonsense. I told them "thanks for coming out to Haas and have a safe trip home." That was that.
The BEST thing that I have though was after the Cal v. UCLA Basketball game on Dec. 31st, this past season. And I hate to do this because I grew up loving UCLA and I feel bad for Ben Howland, especially now. He's a good coach and he did well amidst the SI reports. I was travelling back home for new years right after the game and sure enough the entire UCLA team was flying back on my flight. Who knew they fly commercial? During the boarding process, Lazeric Jones and Josh Smith both cussed me out because I was still wearing my tie and they knew I was the guy heckling them at the game. Their coach promptly told them to "shut up," loud, for everyone to hear. But the best part was that on the flight, Howland had to have gotten up at least 10 times to go to the bathroom. Literally, every 5-10 minutes, he'd get up and go to the bathroom. I really felt bad for the guy. It must have been an overactive bladder or something or his age has caught up with him. I have no idea, but I felt bad and I feel bad for writing this about him too. But I can't help but mention it.
But I'm pretty good about those things. I never get into any trouble when it's against rules. I am the reason they make the rules, because I did that in the first place and that's why the make the rule. So then I don't do it again because they made the rule. But usually find something else just as good that they'll have to make a rule for.
8. How is your relationship with the Cal football and basketball coaches? Do they acknowledge your existence? Do they ask you to help make the crowd quiet/loud when appropriate?
When we played Oregon last year, when they were #1, Tedford called me and another guy into his office. He wanted to talk about HOW LOUD can we get the crowd. All he wanted was the crowd to make noise. No Go Bears on 3, no 1st Down Bears, just NOISE. So we did, and it worked pretty well. It was loud, and the headlines, despite the loss, read "Ugly Ducks".
Tedford yelled at my two other times though during other football games to get the crowd going. One of them, he yelled in my face. It was intense and intimidating but I was fine. Went back at it and kept the crowd going.
I wish I had a closer relationship with Monty just because I love the guy so much. He's our skipper and he's done a hell of a lot with this program. I plan on building that now that the basketball season is over and we prepare for the next.
Overall, I'd like to have more connection/relations with the teams themselves because they are the ones playing and I want to know how they want their home turf. At the end of the day, I'm in charge of that.
9. Which opposing coach and player would you most like to punch in the face?
I don't like Lane Kiffin and I don't like David Shaw. Players? Lazeric Jones because he cussed me out, but the most annoying player I've seen in my time is Andrew Zimmerman, the forward for Stanfurd. Not only is he ugly, he's annoying and thinks he's hot stuff, when really, he's not. I'd really like to sock one to him.