By Peter Ash
“COME ON, REF!” screamed Ram Pack leader Adrian Garcea. “GET IT TOGETHER.”
It’s the third quarter of the national semifinal game between the Ryerson Rams men’s basketball team and the Carleton Ravens, the reigning national champions. As the players trade buckets in Halifax, the Pack stands tall, screaming at the referees to make a call or “keep the whistle out of your mouth.”
And even though the Pack isn’t on the court, their constant bickering makes it feel like they’re running up and down the floor alongside both teams.
It’s one thing to be loud. It’s another to be distracting. The Ryerson Ram Pack—a student collective dedicated to supporting the school’s athletics program—does its best to do both.
For the last five years, the Pack has done everything it can to be loud, distracting and then some, getting under opposing team’s skin as Ryerson’s sports teams travel across the country. Don’t get it twisted, though. Causing trouble isn’t the only thing this group does.
The Pack’s flight to Halifax was cancelled, but the next day, they boarded another to watch the Rams and Ravens face off in the U Sports Final 8 tournament. The athletics department pays for flights, but the Pack pays for all other accommodations themselves.
Once they finally arrived at the Scotiabank Centre, it didn’t take long for the group to let everyone know they were there, screaming “R-Y, R-Y-E, R-Y-E, RYE-ER-SON” the second they hit the bleachers.
“Our main goal is to improve the sports culture here in Canada,” Garcea said. “The NCAA is wild. This is our March Madness. We want people to be just as hyped as they are in the states.”
Garcea, a third-year media production student, is one of the core members of the Pack. “It all started with Jared Armstrong, Edin Sehovic, Derek Chen and Tommy Richards,” Garcea said before Ryerson took on Carleton.
The Pack started out in 2013, when the Rams teams started to assert themselves as some of the best in the country. Since then, some older members have taken a step back to let others flex their Ram pride, and the Pack expanded, growing from 10 to 30 regulars over the last two years.
Although some of the members aren’t officially “enlisted” in the group, the Pack still welcomes them with open arms. Third-year media production students Una Farrelly and Hannah Bawn are perfect examples of that.
“We were never even ‘officially’ members of the Ram Pack,” Farrelly said. “But, we go to every game. We love supporting the school and I just love the vibe.”
“We’ve been going to the games since first-year,” Bawn said.
Despite not being full-time members, Farrelly and Bawn are constantly mentioned by other members, and they don’t take that for granted. Garcea says there’s no limit to how many people can be Pack members.
Whenever Carleton shot an airball, Farrelly and Bawn were among the fastest to stand up and yell “AIRRR-BALLLLL.”
“It’s just a lot of fun,” Bawn said.
Ryerson beat Carleton, and although the Rams would eventually fall short in the finals, the Pack still stood strong for their team, raising their noise levels as the game became more intense.
“I’ve been following this team ever since I got to the school,” said Musatafa “Moose” Bendago, a third-year media produciton student. “I just want to give as much passion and dedication to the team as I can.”
Because of midterms and assignments, Bendago didn’t fly with the Pack. Instead, he paid for his own flight and left a day after his last test.
“Something came over me, and I was like ‘I gotta go,’” he said. “At the end of the day, I could’ve had an exam on Monday at 12 a.m., I could’ve had to pay $500 for the trip or take a 22-hour drive, [but] I was still going to come here because long-term and at the end of my life, I know I’ll be happy.”
Bendago’s dedication shows it’s not all about winning for the Pack. It’s all about supporting the school and giving their sports teams an edge—something that they feel isn’t emphasized enough across Canada.
“Brock is a close second…but they can’t compete with us,” Garcea said. “We are the Ram Pack. We’re the best in Canada.”