3-year-old fan gathers courage to hug Rocky the Bull at first USF Horns Up Rally

USF Bulls

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The colors of the University of South Florida – green and gold – splashed across Sparkman Wharf on Thursday evening. The popular outdoor destination hosted the first-ever Horns Up Rally ahead of the football game against the Wisconsin Badgers on Friday.

“I am thrilled with this first Horns Up Rally,” said the creator of the event and the vice president of athletics at the university, Michael Kelly. “We wanted to start a new tradition to allow Bulls fans from all over the city to come together on a night before a game. We know there are a lot of Bulls fans from around the state who come before the game so this is a great way for them to have a great night and get ready for the game.”

“I think it is great,” said Janelle Wells, one of the fans at the event. “We want to infuse some excitement around the Tampa Bay community and really showcase our university and get people excited to come out and support our students who make our university great.”

Wells has a special connection to the university. She is entering her fifth year as an assistant professor in the USF Vinik Sport and Entertainment Management Program. She attended the rally with her family, her husband and their three boys. Her husband, Yulander Wells Jr., is the Senior Associate Director of Development and Administration for USF Athletics.

“We have a work-life integration so sports are a big part of that,” Wells told 8 On Your Side’s Gabrielle Shirley. “So we are able to bring them whether we are in a work capacity or here for fun supporting the students.”

I noticed Wells’ family interacting with the team mascot, Rocky the Bull. Her husband and her two older boys had to help 3-year-old Yuriah Wells gather the courage to approach Rocky.

“It melts my heart,” said Wells who was watching the scene from a distance, “because it just shows, it really shows the team effort. Thank goodness for his big brothers, you know, so that makes it easy and it is great to see the excitement that he has when he finally can get in there and give him a big hug.”

Yes, Yuriah did give Rocky a hug and, yes, he will be at the game tonight. Will you be there too?

“We got the team walk at about 4:45 p.m., gates open at 5:30 p.m., kickoff promptly at 7:00 o’clock,” said Kelly. “So be there and let’s show the national television audience what bulls football is all about!”

The next USF Horns Up Rally will be held on Friday, Sept. 13, at Pier 60 in Clearwater Beach from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

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