How the Red Wave was Born

You may know the Fresno State fan base is nicknamed the Red Wave, but do you know the name’s origin?

Ron OrozcoFresno State supporters have fondly been known as the Red Wave for 35 years now. It’s an identity for the University’s fan base that is both nostalgic and inspiring. And it’s a tradition that Fresno State credits to Ron Orozco, a longtime journalist for The Fresno Bee who now teaches in the Media, Communications and Journalism Department at Fresno State.

As Orozco recalls, there was a growing fan base for the athletics program just starting to realize its potential in the late 1970s. The men’s basketball team was thriving under then coach Boyd Grant. And the fans wouldn’t settle for watching their Bulldogs only at Selland Arena — they followed them on the road in droves.

On Jan. 17, 1981, Fresno State visited San Jose State, and Orozco’s game story in The Bee focused on the hundreds of Bulldogs fans who made the trip over Pacheco Pass in busses and cars, so many wearing red that he nicknamed them the Red Wave.

“And now there’s another generation — including my grandchildren Benjamin and Alexandra — who are learning about and joining the Red Wave,” Orozco says. “It makes me happy for the community. I am grateful that I was The Bee beat writer for Fresno State sports at that time. Journalists are trained to be the eyes and ears for readers; it was easy for me to write about what I was seeing and feeling.”