In the ‘80s they carried a drum and supported the basketball team. In the ‘90s they sat on couches and cheered on the soccer team. Today they fill the stands in the end zones of football games and shake noise makers. These are the groups that have championed the Crusader teams through the years.
Phi Tuba Luba began in the mid-‘80s with a group of male students who were searching for something fun to do on campus. They were originally called the “Tube Brothers” because the members would wear sleeves cut from a Polo-style shirt over their heads.
Kelly Boggs ’85 played a key role in the brainstorming and early stages of the group.
“You would pull the “tube” down around your ears and all your hair would poke out of the top. Hence we called our group the Brotherhood of the Tube,” he said. “The moniker Phi Tuba Luba emerged from The University of Houston basketball team known as Phi Slamma Jamma. Since UMHB had no fraternities, we came up with Phi Tuba Luba. It seemed appropriate at the time.”
In the beginning, the members of the group wished to be anonymous and often wore Groucho Marx glasses or ski masks. This trend soon faded and turned into everyone dressing as ridiculously as possible. From leather vests and motorcycle helmets to cutoff shorts and ties, members made quite the entrance when they paraded into the basketball gym.
Senior Vice President for Administration and Chief Operating Officer Dr. Steve Theodore was an original member of this spirited group.
“We were a group of loud, obnoxious, goofy, funny, UMHB enthusiasts who just wanted to have fun and show our love for our university,” he said.
In its prime, Phi Tuba Luba consisted of about 20 to 30 students who stood in the stands with noisemakers, drums, and horns to cheer on The Cru. They also stole the spotlight during half time and timeouts with their circus-like entertainment.
“We would lead cheers that we made up and spell out UMHB on the floor with our bodies,” Theodore said. “At half time, we would throw jello squares into each others mouths from one end of the court to the other. We did a lot to try and get the crowd involved.”
John Hobson, class of ‘86, really gave the group leadership and inspiration which helped to liven up the basketball games.
“At 5’ 7” I would never be able to dunk a basketball, but I always wanted to,” he said. “One game during halftime I had Gregg Fore get on his hands and knees at the free throw line; in front of him, Mikey Groseclose faced the basket with his hands on his knees. Running from half court, I stepped across their backs and jumped to the rim. I made it on the first attempt, and it just became a routine I did every game after that.”
From playing “Three Blind Mice” on kazoos when a bad call was made to shouting “Joust ‘em, Crusaders, joust ‘em,” Phi Tuba Luba brought much excitement to campus while it lasted. It is unclear what specifically caused the end of Phi Tuba Luba, but once the original members graduated, the group soon faded out. Other spirit groups emerged (notably the Bleacher Creatures), but they were short-lived.
Little did they know at the time, but in the early ‘90s when a group of guys brought a couch to the soccer game to support their friend, they would be starting a tradition that would be later known as the Couch Cru.
Dean of Students Ray Martin remembers the beginning stages of the group. “There was a group of about eight to ten guys who carried couches from their apartments to the soccer field,” he said. “They would barbecue, sit on the couches, and yell for their friends.”
With the addition of Crusader football in 1998, the Couch Cru evolved into more of an organized group.
“In the fall of 1999, we carried couches to Belton’s Tiger Field,” Martin said. “This group really brought and continues to bring the spirit and love of the university together.”
Over the next decade, the Couch Cru became well-known as one of the most enthusiastic spirit groups in Division III. The group, which was officially chartered as a student organization in 2004, has always offered open membership to any student who wants to join in during games. Students have always taken great pride in creating outrageous costumes—from purple and gold capes to head-to-toe body paint. The crazier the outfit, the better.
Before 2007, approximately twenty 55-gallon barrels and a couple of couches lined the end zone at each home football game. Large crowds of students gathered to pound on the steel drums with baseball bats, boat oars, or frying pans. In 2007, the American Southwest Conference required all fans, barrels, and couches move ten yards behind the end zone due to safety concerns. As a result, the Couch Cru evolved yet again, with most students now sitting in the stands behind the end zone and shaking noise makers while the team is on defense.
Today Couch Cru still stands strong supporting all athletic teams at the university. With the building of a football stadium on campus, school spirit will undoubtedly continue to grow. “There will be a rejuvenation in UMHB pride and athletic support,” Martin predicts.
“We are expecting a huge increase in game day attendance and a return to the early days of Couch Cru. With a stadium located right in the heart of campus, it will be exciting to see what new traditions emerge.”
-Lindsay Shaefer Landrum ’12