It’s not easy to stay positive (or focused) when your school’s football team is 1-9 this late in the season.
But even during Cal’s 62-28 setback to visiting USC on Saturday, Golden Bear fans find something to cheer about — thanks to Spencer Bowen.
The 2011 graduate of Davis High is what his Berkeley school calls Head Mic Man. He’s a cheerleader extraordinaire who finds just the right things to tell the crowd, even when their heroes are down a bunch with the clock running out.
“Losses are a mixed bag,” explained Bowen, now a junior in college. “The students who stay around during particularly depressing games are usually the true fans, so they’re pretty responsive.
“But at the same time, your material as a yell leader is limited. I don’t want to say ‘It’s OK guys. We can score 30 points in six minutes!’”
Bowen — the son of Kate and Bob Bowen — has always been a leader.
At DHS, he captained the track team and was student body president.
Even early on, a young Spencer Bowen knew he had some rah-rah in him.
“Since I was 4 weeks old, I’ve been attending Cal football games at Memorial Stadium. Basically, since birth I’ve been a Golden Bear fan,” Bowen said, laughing as he recalled the times when, as a kid, he’d lead Cal fans in Section MM in some cheers.
Bowen is a political science major (public policy minor) who knew in coming to the University of California that he wanted to join the Mic Men, a tradition at the school since the early 1990s.
Before that, a head yell leader (which is the equivalent of what Bowen is now) was elected by the students.
Dressed in Old School outfits, the historic yell leaders used hand signals and screamed through their megaphones. They were a stark contrast to the sharply dressed, striped-tie-wearing, amplified young men of Bowen’s energetic pack.
As one of the most recognizable students on campus, Bowen says he’s “extraordinarily lucky” to be in his current position.
“(It’s) given me so much,” he told The Enterprise. “I feel just as comfortable addressing 63,000 people … as I do making a presentation in my Spanish class. As Mic Man I have become close with a lot of members of the Cal family (from Athletic Director Sandy Barbour to professors and game-day sound crews).”
Before the season started, new Cal football coach Sonny Dykes asked Bowen to address the team. He’s frequently asked to emcee events or moderate panels and recently he was the guest host for a visit from Australian actor Chris Lilley.
And football is just the half of it. Bowen also gets the crowd going during Cal basketball home games.
“I’m humbled that I get a chance to represent the university on the biggest stage and couldn’t image myself doing anything else,” the personable 20-year-old added.
As dedicated as the former Blue Devil is to his cheerleading duties, Bowen works diligently to keep his studies moving forward.
Earning Regent and Chancellor Scholar designations, Bowen’s GPA is 3.96. He has a keen interest in education and expects to attend graduate school after getting his bachelor’s degree in 2015.
A career in education policy is possible, but he also says “I’ve always dreamed of being a sportscaster or athletic director.”
He’s in demand among faculty and administrators, too. Bowen is a member of the 113-year-old Order of the Golden Bear — an organization of students and alumni that advises on pressing school issues with campus hierarchy. He has also worked for Cal student government and has mentored fifth-graders in Oakland public schools.
“Being a student and resident in Berkeley is so much fun,” the busy fellow continued. “There is no shortage of excitement on campus — there’s always performance, protests, speeches, sports events, you name it.
“As a resident, I’ve fallen in love with the Bay Area and all it has to offer. Being able to walk home from class and see the sun set behind the Golden Gate, and then take BART into The City to catch a Giants game … it’s all so special.
“I feel a huge responsibility to represent my school well.”
Notes: Spencer Bowen has three step-siblings: Tyler, 30, and Stacey, 34, who live in town and Heather, 32, a Sierra foothills resident. Spencer’s ability to encourage, lead and entertain is a clear genetic trait. Dad Bob is the City of Davis Public Relations Manager — an organizer and promoter of countless local events. A sought-after emcee and moderator, the patriarch of the Bowen Family is a UC Davis grad who also was student body president at Davis High (the only such father-son combination in the school’s 86-year history). Mom Kate is a fifth-grader teacher at Patwin Elementary. Spencer comes by his love for education honestly. … When the Golden Bear heads home for summers, he helps at the DHS track and field camp, teaches sailing at Stonegate Country Club and hangs out as much as he can with family: “Going to Giants games with my dad and watching ‘General Hospital’ with my mom” are among his favorites relaxations.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at [email protected] or 530-747-8047.