Zags make fifth appearance on SI cover

Published On: Mar 21 2013 07:14:17 PM PDT
Zags on SI cover
SPOKANE, Wash. -

The Zag edition of Sports Illustrated hit newsstands Thursday. Featuring Kelly Olynyk surrounded by Gonzaga students showing their school pride, it's already flying off the shelves.

This marks the fifth time the Zags have made the cover, an experience students who participated in the photo shoot won’t soon forget.

If you've ever been in the Kennel you know Zag fans don't mess around. They are loud, proud and now on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

"It's so awesome, it's a big part of the school and the community is just showing your Zag pride," student Emily Meggison said.

The top secret photo shoot went down just before spring break.

"My boss sent me a text message [and] said be here, be ready for a photo shoot so come in your Zag gear and that's all we knew," student Marie Marshall said. "So we showed up and they had us in a room and then we walked out and there was the Sports Illustrated photographer."

A once in a lifetime experience to say the least.

"It was like, it was really scary because he picked us one by one, so it was like the dodgeball days, where you are like pick me, pick me," Marshall said.

"I was right next to her and then he [was] like, 'cause I was tall, he was like you in the front and I was like 'Wait me?' I was like 'No way,'" student Hayley Bigoni said.

Fifty students in all surrounded by Zag star Kelly Olynyk.

"He's huge; I mean we are short girls, it was like high there," Marshall said.

The shoot lasted two hours and not once did their enthusiasm fade.

"The photographer said he's never had a school do someone like that, because we kept cheering," Marshall said.

Excitement they vowed to keep secret until this week...

"We got a bunch of text messages, being like 'Oh my God you are on Sports Illustrated,'" student Sarah Nolan said.

Wayne Christofferson is making sure all those magazines get on store shelves Thursday, though as soon as they get there they're flying off just as quickly.

There are only 10,000 copies of the regional edition available -- Gonzaga graces one of four such covers released this week -- minus the few he's keeping for himself.

"I've got a couple, are you thinking about something? A little negotiation here?" Christofferson laughed.

The Gonzaga cover of Sports Illustrated is expected to be sold out within 24 hours.