“Chef” shows up to Matthew Knight Arena two hours before a basketball game starts, standing before closed doors with fellow members of the Pit Crew. He waits for admission into the holy temple of Oregon’s indoor sports and as the doors open, he dawns his toque and gets down to business. For the hour leading to tipoff, Chef is busy with his pregame duties: handing out free gear to early birds, preparing signs to distract the other team’s players, passing out pamphlets defaming the opponents and dancing to tunes played by the pep band.
It’s eight minutes to tipoff and, in culmination of the pregame ritual, Chef and his fellow fans rush the tunnel to the University of Oregon locker room, where they shout the lyrics to school pride songs and jostle each other to get excited. Chef stands in their midst, leading chants and jumping up and down as he yells at the Pit Crew to “pump it up.” As players stream out of the locker room, Chef and his compatriots high-five their favorite athletes, offering final words of encouragement before the game begins.
Welcome to a game night in the life of Cody Karlin — the infamous “Chef” of the student section and Pit Crew co-director for men’s basketball events.@@[email protected]@
Karlin has always been a sports fan.
In high school, he was captain of the student cheering section and won the title of “Most Spirited” in his senior class. Although he’s been a Duck fan since the moment he decided to attend the university, Karlin’s notoriety in the campus student section began in earnest last year when he decided to dress up for a basketball game. His costume of choice: a black apron with a neon “O” one of his friends had given him and a matching chef’s hat — the signature toque — he found on a whim at the Duck Store.
“I got those, and I wore them to a game one time, and it was fun,” Karlin said. “So, I just kept doing it. It stuck, and this year, I’ve done it at all women’s volleyball games and men’s basketball games.”
When he’s not attending sporting events or Pit Crew planning meetings, Karlin spends his free time playing sports, serving as the philanthropy chairman for Alpha Epsilon Pi@@https://sites.google.com/site/uoaepi/@@ and cooking. His participation in collegiate leadership positions has inspired him to pursue an education in public relations, a degree he hopes will secure him an occupation in the events planning and management industry he’s acquired a knack for through his work for the Pit Crew.
After getting to know some of the organization, Karlin decided his place as a fan was as part of the Pit Crew Administration Board,@@https://education.uoregon.edu/student-academic-services/about-tutors@@ where he would help coordinate student participation in sporting events.
“I’ve always been a huge sports fan. I’m passionate about a lot of things, and I like to yell,” he said. “And this is a great place to do that.”
According to Karlin, this year’s Pit Crew is much more organized and expansive than in the past. The organization has an official president, vice president, men’s and women’s sports directors in addition to directors for every individual sport. It’s a transformation from last year’s crew, which he describes as having fewer administration positions.
Karlin’s role on the Pit Crew is as one of three directors for men’s basketball. He says one of the most important parts of his job is helping promote the publicity he believes UO student athletes deserve.
“We want these athletes to be recognized and we want people to go and see that (games are) fun,” he said. “Especially because tickets are free anyway, so if you’re not going and you’re not checking it out it’s really just a waste of money.”
“He’s in control and (is) the motivation for everybody,” she said. “He gets the chants going and gets us all rallied up. I’ve been to every game, and he’s been there, too. He gets us fired up … It’s awesome.”