May 1, 2013 4:12 PM by Bill Halter
82 year old Bill Cotnam is San Luis Obispo High School's biggest fan and has been for some time. Cotnam doesn't just support the varsity athletes, he goes to freshman and junior varsity games as well. His support for the school earned him the nickname, "Tiger Bill" in the early 1990's.
Cotnam had asthma and didn't play sports when he went to San Luis Obispo High School in the 1940's, he was however a big supporter of the Tigers teams. "We only had four sports then and we didn't have a car and I used to hitch hike to some of the football games" said Cotnam. The football team won the school's first ever CIF Championship during Cotnam's senior year in 1947.
Cotnam left San Luis Obispo for about 26 years but came back in the early 1980's, he immediately returned to supporting the Tigers. "I love San Luis, I love sports and I want to support them" said Cotnam.
Numerous times during a game, Cotnam screams out, "let's go Tigers." It's been his rallying cry since 1988. "I was down in Santa Maria at a JV girls basketball game and at time outs these little Santa Maria cheerleaders kept getting in front of us doing the yell and I said go Tigers. Then the second time, go Tigers. And then the third time, go Tigers and our girls heard me and the voice was born" said Cotnam.
Cotnam's support has earned him the respect of the players he's supporting. "When you hear that 'let's go Tigers' there's nothing like it, it gets your blood boiling. Everyone knows that's how you start sporting events at SLO high" said football player Jack Ferguson.
Cotnam says he goes to all of the San Luis Obispo sporting events but one. "Everything except golf, they won't let you holler at golf" said Cotnam with a smile.
Cotnam only travels as far as Arroyo Grande and Paso Robles these days but in the past he followed them everywhere. "One school year I think 2002 to 2003 I logged them. Went to 302 high school games in the school year. And it was 6,904 miles" recalls Cotnam.
Cotnam feels he's needed most at junior varsity and freshman sporting events. "It's more important to go early and root for JV or freshman because a lot of parents are still working and there's no cheerleaders there"
Cotnam always has a bag of cough drops to keep his throat fresh for his roars of, "let's go Tigers."
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