Big Horn breakdown

Interview with Big Horn member Shahab Valipour

Meeting new people can be tough, but sports can help. What’s more, you don’t necessarily need to play on a team to do this if you join the right fan group. Shahab Valipour is a science student from Iran going into his second year. Not only was Shahab new to the university when he joined the Big Horns; he was also relatively new to Canada. I sat down with Shahab to hear about his experience with the Big Horns and how it helped him find a sense of belonging at the University of Manitoba. David Grad: How did you first get involved with the Big Horns? Shahab Valipour: I had been at school for a few months and usually went home after class because I had nothing to do. One of my first days staying after class I was sitting in the Armes Building. Steve Setka, one of the Big Horns, came up to me and gave me tickets for wearing my U of M clothes. I went with some friends and saw some of the other Big Horns; they were loud and having so much fun. Cheering for the teams – I liked it! I was an athlete in high school and loved it when fans came out, it was exciting. I wanted to join them. They were funny and fun to hang out with. So I joined them! I’ve had a lot of fun and learned a lot of things since joining. DG: As a first-year student, what did joining the Big Horns mean to you? SV: Before I joined, I was alone in the university. I was scared, everyone said university was hard. I was new to the school and new to Canada. I found a lot of friends when I joined. I enjoyed university more; I love being in university now. I felt more confident because I knew I was part of a family. My family lives in Iran, but the Big Horns became my family. Going to class, talking to TAs, studying – I felt more confident with everything. DG: Why do you feel school spirit is important? SV: We [the Big Horns] went to Regina together to cheer women’s volleyball at nationals. No other team had fans out like we did. We were only one group, a small group, but everyone was talking about us and what we brought. We were supporting each other, and the athletes supported us and welcomed us as part of their family. Breaking our drums, losing our voices, cheering with players’ families, and being invited on the court by the players after they won a national title, that was special. It was us helping our school and making our school better. DG: Is the U of M more than just a school for you now? SV: Yes, absolutely. I spend most of my time here now. Before joining, I went home right after class because I was just here for class. After joining, I am staying here all the time. I am more comfortable here, I like being on campus. I am alone in the city, but here I know feel like I have a family. Going to the games as a group, having dinner together, having meetings – it is like my family! DG: Since joining the Big Horns, when you put on a sweater or shirt that has the Bison or University of Manitoba on it, do you feel more pride, like you are a part of something bigger? SV: Yes! I am more proud to be a student here. I am more confident. Going to Regina or U of W to watch games, watching the way we support our teams, it makes me feel proud. We have something here other schools don’t have. I wear my U of M clothes wherever I go; Iran, Toronto, or wherever [ . . . ] I am a part of something. Check out the Big Horns at and