You see their painted bodies. You hear their passionate roar.
They are the Superfans.
An official student organization, Superfans are full of Auburn spirit and ready to cheer on their fellow student-athletes.
At each home football game, you can find the Superfans located on the bottom rows of the student section in the south end zone of Jordan-Hare Stadium. Depending on their availability, the Superfans have been known to attend men’s basketball games, volleyball matches, and swim and gymnastics meets.
Graduate students, undergraduate students and even student-athletes join in on the fun and electric energy the Superfans bring to athletic events.
According to Superfans president Sarah Jones, around 200 students have been painted up over the years, and the highest number of participants they have had at one sporting event is 27.
The student use their bodies as a canvas, and they also make a significant time commitment to get ready for reach event. Typically, the group gets to basketball games two hours before the doors open and four hours before football kickoffs to begin the painting process.
As soon as the group has arrived, the Superfans begin to coat each other in orange paint across their torso. Then, each letter or number is painted in blue and accentuated with a crisp white outline.
“We have to get the outline on there,” Jones said. “All the other painted-up people from other schools don’t tend to put an outline, and it doesn’t look as good. Our former president made sure this was something we continued to do to make our paint look the best out of any Superfans in the country.”
Unless there is a designated color for fans to wear, the orange with blue lettering is the go-to color scheme for the Superfans.
With the top half of their bodies painted, Jones says the bottom half is up to each participant. However, a new trend is starting to take shape within the Superfans: shaker-themed outfits.
A former Superfans president and the current treasurer are known to wear shaker pants. As for Jones, she plans to unveil her shaker skirt soon.
Deciding what message the Superfans choose will convey in paint is a group effort. Sometimes the Superfans reach out to fellow fans via social media to get ideas, other times it is decided by a group text among members or the decision is made by the Superfans exec committee.
“It’s all good-natured things,” Jones said when asked about deciding what phrases appear in paint. “They are never mean.”
Each event presents a unique opportunity for the Superfans to make a clever dig at Auburn’s opponent. For example, they’ve painted “Roll Trees” instead of “Roll Tide.”
While Jones has been part of many Superfans events, one of her favorite phrases she’s helped spell out was in honor of Auburn Men’s Basketball Head Coach Bruce Pearl.
For the March 5 matchup against South Carolina, the Superfans painted “Bruce” on their bodies. As a nod to the tradition of exaggerating Pearl’s first name when he walks onto the basketball court, the group included a few extra ‘U’s.
“This one is a fun one to do because it is a distinctly Auburn thing,” Jones said.
After that South Carolina game–the last home game of the season–Pearl joined the Superfans for a courtside picture.
Once the fun and excitement of the games are over, it is time for the paint to come off. But how long does that take, exactly?
“The question is what do you considered washed off? Because you will have the paint on you for a good week,” Jones said with a laugh.
Most of the paint comes off in about half an hour in the shower, but Jones said it is a process to remove it all.
“Your armpits will be orange several days following,” Jones joked. “There have been many times when I look down and I’m like, ‘Oh, there’s still an entire orange patch on me.’”
As temperatures drop during football season, the Superfans, whose torsos are most exposed, are always reminded that paint provides no warmth or protection from the sun.
However, the tan lines, paint-stained bodies, sweat-streaked skin and cold-induced chattering teeth were no reasons to complain this year, as the Superfans got to experience capacity crowds in venues after seasons put on pause during the pandemic.
“It was a real duality to last year because of COVID,” Jones said. “We missed a whole season of basketball and that was really hard on some Superfans because for a lot of them that’s the only sport they do. This year we were really excited.”
The Superfans have a special camaraderie with student-athletes. For example, several men’s basketball team members would sit with the group during football season. Jones said that the Superfans became good friends with the team, including basketball player Dylan Cardwell, who helped them lead Auburn fans in a stadium crowd wave.
“Getting to see basically our friends play basketball was amazing,” Jones said.
The Superfans’ dedication to supporting the Tigers from beginning to end can bring the student section together during both good and bad times.
“Rain or shine, cold or heat, we’ve been through it all,” Jones said. “It just shows the endurance of the student section. If you believe and love Auburn enough, you’ll go through anything.”