UCLA isn’t just one of the country’s top educational institutions. It’s also the home of the Bruins, UCLA’s athletic teams. Athletes attending UCLA may participate in numerous sports, including baseball, basketball (both men’s and women’s), football, water polo, and many others. Although their sports may be different, these teams all share a key trait: they belong to a legendary collegiate athletic program.
No trip to UCLA would be complete without seeing the Bruins in some capacity. If you’re heading to UCLA in the near future, keep the following ideas in mind. They’re all fantastic ways to ensure the Bruins are part of your visit.
The Bruins at UCLA: What You Need to Know
Seeing a Game
Of course, the best way to catch the Bruins at UCLA is to simply attend a game. Again, the university is home to numerous sports teams, so there’s typically something to watch all throughout the year. All you need to do is check the official schedule to see which games will be happening while you’re in the area. Odds are good you’ll find an event that interests you. Just make sure you sort the schedule by “Home” so you only see games that will take place at UCLA.
You can also easily buy tickets online. However, keep in mind that you may need to check back periodically to see when tickets for your preferred sport will be available. Many Bruins teams are very popular, and during certain times of year, you can’t buy single game tickets in advance. Instead, you have to purchase a season pass or place a deposit for one.
Depending on where you’re coming from, you might be interested in buying a Bruin PASSport. This $99 ticket option is available to visitors coming from out of state. It allows you to attend two regular season home games of the sport of your choice. If you’re from out of state, and you think you’ll be in town long enough to catch more than one game, it might be the best deal for you.
It’s also worth noting that some UCLA olympic sport events (such as water polo and rowing) offer free admission during the regular season. Check the list to see if there are any you might want to attend. If you don’t feel like spending money on a game ticket, this option still gives you the chance to catch the Bruins in action.
However, don’t make the mistake of assuming you can only enjoy seeing and learning about the Bruins at UCLA by attending an official event. There are other ways to get to know these legendary teams during your visit. They include:
Visiting the UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame
UCLA’s campus offers visitors a wide range of cultural activities and experiences to participate in. For instance, it’s home to several museums, including the UCLA Athletic Hall of Fame.
This spot is a must-see for anyone interested in learning more about the Bruins when they take a trip to UCLA. It houses such iconic items as Gary Beban’s original Heisman Trophy and the Wooden Awards won by Marques Johnson and Ed O’Bannon. Additionally, the UCLA Athletic Hall of Fame regularly screens video highlights from famous games, matches, and events in Bruins history. You can also browse its collection of pictures and read more about famous Bruins athletes of the past.
At UCLA, they’re proud of their sports program. A visit to the UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame will help you better understand why. This campus landmark is open on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. It’s closed most weekends, except for the first Saturday of the month, when it is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It’s also closed on university holidays, so you may want to confirm ahead of time that you aren’t planning your visit on one of those days.
Buying Team Gear
You don’t have to attend UCLA to be a fan of a Bruins team. Also, depending on why you’re visiting the campus, it’s possible you might be planning on attending UCLA in the future anyway. If so, there’s no better way to get a head start on embracing UCLA spirit than by purchasing official team gear.
Technically, you don’t have to travel to UCLA to do so. You can buy gear online. However, you might prefer to browse UCLA team apparel in person to make sure you find exactly what you’re looking for. There are several stores on campus where you can do so. Consider stopping by one of them during your visit.
Following the Bruins via Email
Again, you need to do a little bit of research ahead of your visit if you plan on seeing the Bruins when you take a trip to UCLA. This is a lot easier if you sign up for the official email list. You’ll receive regular updates, including information about ticket discounts.
Taking a Self-Guided Tour
You can feel the presence of the Bruins all throughout UCLA’s campus. Thus, you may want to explore Bruins history and UCLA’s overall athletics culture during a self-guided tour.
The university provides a simple guide to help you do so. Use it to plan how you’ll see all the Bruins landmarks you want to see when you visit.
For example, you may want to check out Bruin Plaza, where you’ll find the statue of the official Bruins mascot. Bruin Plaza is essentially in the same area of campus as Pauley Pavilion. This indoor arena hosts basketball games, gymnastics competitions, and related events. Outside Pauley Pavilion, you can also spot the statue of John Wooden, UCLA’s famous basketball coach.
This area of campus puts you near Bruin Walk. Head down here to see the “42 Statue,” a campus monument that celebrates famed Bruin and MLB star Jackie Robinson. Nearby, you can head to Janss Steps and Shapiro Fountain to get a clear view of the intramural fields.
Depending on whether an event is going on, you might be able to visit the top of Drake Stadium as well. Home of the UCLA Bruins track and field teams, the top of this stadium also offers one of the best views of campus. Drake Stadium is also relatively close to Straus Stadium, UCLA’s tennis stadium. Head over there too if you simply want a glimpse of another famous UCLA sports venue.
As you can probably tell by now, visiting UCLA is a major opportunity for a college sports fan. You’ll get the chance to see more than a few legendary spots in a fairly small area.
Why the Bruins are So Important to UCLA
Plenty of universities are home to sports teams. However, only a few celebrate their teams the way UCLA does.
There are many reasons this is the case. To better appreciate why UCLA and its students are so proud of the Bruins, consider the following points:
UCLA’s Bruins have given numerous major athletes their start. Famous competitors from the past include Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jackie Robinson, Troy Aikman, Lauren Nicole Holiday, Russell Westbrook III, and Stacey “Nuvey” Nuveman-Deniz, just to name a few.
Former UCLA athletes have stood out in professional basketball, football, soccer, and many other major sports. Several have also gone on to become Olympic athletes, representing their country on a global stage. That’s why so many young athletes aspire to become Bruins themselves. It’s also one of the main reasons the Bruins play an important role in UCLA’s culture and legacy. On top of that, along with the players, UCLA has been home to several notable coaches, including John Wooden, Red Sanders, and Jim Harrick.
The entirety of UCLA’s campus is impressive. However, its athletics facilities stand out. The fact that all the recreation and athletics facilities have been collectively named in honor of Jackie Robinson also serves as a reminder that UCLA was once home to one of the most significant figures in the fight for racial equality in the United States. After all, in the modern era, Jackie Robinson did become the first African American to play in the MLB. It’s understandable that UCLA wants to honor that.
Again, you should make a point of seeing as many athletic facilities as you can while touring UCLA. They offer some of the best views on campus, and their attractive design qualities reflect the school’s love for the Bruins.
A History of Success
As of this writing, UCLA’s Bruins have won a combined total of 119 NCAA team championships. Only one other competitor, Stanford, boasts a stronger record. Even so, in 2007, UCLA did become the first school to win 100 NCAA team championships, beating Stanford. This was the result of the 2007 Women’s Water Polo Championship.
The Bruins perform consistently well across all major sports. It makes sense that UCLA students are proud of that fact.
Attendees at many Bruins events may get the chance to spot the school’s mascot. This friendly bear helps fans cheer their favorite teams on.
However, the Bruins mascot wasn’t always someone dressed in a costume. During the 1930s, a live bear (and its trainer) would actually appear at all UCLA home football games. Of course, this tradition didn’t last forever. Maintaining control of large animals in extremely crowded settings proved to be as difficult as you might assume. Thus, the Coliseum eventually outlawed their presence.
However, in the 1950s, a small Himalayan bear cub named “Little Joe” would once again serve as a live mascot at Bruins events. This tradition also ended when he grew too large and was instead sent to be part of a circus.
No major university sports program is complete without its fight song. UCLA has in fact had more than one over the years. One of the earlier Bruins fight songs, “Sons of Westwood,” was based on the lyrics to UC Berkeley’s “Big C, Sons of California.” The UCLA marching band simply adjusted the lyrics to make the song more UCLA focused.
Another notable Bruins fight song is “Mighty Bruins.” The UCLA Alumni Association commissioned this song to celebrate its 50th anniversary. To find the right lyrics, the UCLA Alumni Association held a contest, asking both current students and alumni to submit their ideas. Bill Conti, the famous composer whose work has appeared in such films as Karate Kid, For Your Eyes Only, and The Right Stuff (for which he won an Academy Award), selected the winner. He also conducted the UCLA Marching Band when the song debuted during the 1984 Stanford football game.
Rivalries are essential to collegiate sports programs. Fans and athletes are simply more passionate when they have strong competitors they can face off against year after year.
That said, UCLA’s rivalry is somewhat unique when compared to those of other NCAA Division I schools. That’s because UCLA’s rival is USC, which is also located in Los Angeles.
The Victory Bell symbolizes the rivalry between the two universities. This bell, weighing in at an impressive 295 pounds, was first part of a Southern Pacific freight locomotive. The UCLA Alumni Association gifted the Victory Bell to UCLA in 1939.
Like the Bruins mascot, the Victory Bell has also played an important role in UCLA legends. Consider what happened in 1941. During the opening football game of the season, a few USC fraternity members snuck off with the bell by pretending to be Bruins fans. Along with several other real fans, they helped load the bell onto a truck. Before the Bruins fans could find the missing keys, the USC students drove away, hiding the bell in multiple spots for more than a year. Eventually, it appeared in a picture featured in an official USC publication.
As a result, both schools agreed that whichever team won the annual football game between the Bruins and the Trojans would get to keep the Victory Bell for a year, until the losing team got a chance to win it back the next year. That tradition continues to this day.
These are all reasons you shouldn’t forget about the Bruins when you visit UCLA. Whether you catch a game, visit the UCLA Athletic Hall of Fame, or simply show your support by purchasing an official piece of team gear, getting to know the Bruins needs to be part of your trip.