Images courtesy James Roy
The sun is not yet out in Baton Rouge on a Saturday morning in the fall. But James Roy is already out on Nicholson Drive on the Old Front Nine – getting set for the day ahead. Roy runs the KOCKA Tailgate Team—a staple of LSU game days every year.
With roots dating back to the late ’90s, the team is comprised of more than 50 contributing members and was formed from a merger between the Krewe of Crown (KOC) and Krewe’d Awakening (KA) teams, which took place in 2013. The group also merged with Port of Call Tailgating in recent years.
Roy said tailgating is in his blood, and it’s something he takes pride in doing every, single year.
The group has been on the scene for some of the most memorable moments in LSU football history over the past few years.
“We are out there usually around 4 a.m. for the 7 p.m. games,” Roy said. “We like to get at least 12 hours of tailgating in. … We are one big happy family now with a great tradition of tailgating experience. We’ve worked out all the, ‘what doesn’t work’ and, ‘what makes a tailgate successful’ and how to keep it fun.”
KOCKA is incredibly affordable-—by design. Roy said one of the things that causes tailgates to fail is when they become too much about money and not enough about people and fun.
“We learned a long time ago that the main reason tailgates fall apart is the burden ends up falling on just one person or a couple people,” Roy said. “So we perfected this.”
KOCKA charges just $40 per person per season. With that in hand, the group can pay all of its expenses, while also covering for non-contributors who frequent the site throughout the year.
“All the cost is absorbed by the tailgate, so everyone is in it together,” Roy said. “The equipment also lasts longer because it belongs to everyone.”
Now, it’s time to talk about all the fun the group has every season.Roy struggled when thinking of a favorite tailgating memory because he said there are too many to pick from. After considering it, he came up with a list of
on-field accomplishments—mostly after LSU victories.
“After about 18 years of legit tailgating, there are so many things – most of them, you had to be there to appreciate them,” Roy said. “My biggest and best memories of LSU football were being at the Blue Grass Miracle game and being on the field after the game. I also remember crying after we won the 2001 SEC Championship Game. I was there for that, also. There are just so many wild and crazy stories.”
KOCKA has a lot of long-standing traditions, too. The group hands out a Member of the Year trophy each season. The group also is interactive throughout the season and gives out Tailgater of the Week honors to people who entertain each week—an honor started by the KOC.
On site, the krewe is also known for its competitive beer pong, its rocking music and also a competition it has for the most road games attended by members.
“I’m currently at 62 road games counting the BYU game and 63 for the Alabama game this year,” Roy said. “And I’m not in first place. Let’s just put it that way.”
The krewe also has various chants and cheers, which make them the unique, fun-loving group of Tiger fans that they are.
“We’re known for our ‘Red E,’” Roy said. “Our DJ will take a red sharpie and write an ‘E’ on the back of your hand if you are ready (red-e) to get it going that day.”
And Roy is “Red-E” for the 2017 season, as well. Roy said he is eager to see how Coach Ed Orgeron does in his first full season in command of the Tigers. He also touted excitement at Matt Canada’s offense and worry about the road-heavy slate LSU will face, which features five SEC road games.
“It’s going to be rough,” Roy said. “No matter how strong our team is, to survive that will be a small miracle.”
Win, lose or draw, the folks with KOCKA will be there to see a lot of it. They will be on hand at the BYU game in Texas and will have a group with them. They also plan to make other games, as well.
“I am super pumped about tailgating this year, as well,” Roy said. “I’m ready to get out there and see everyone and get this season started right.”