COLUMBIA — Four hours before the NCAA Softball Super Regionals started Saturday at University Field, family and friends of the Missouri softball players gathered around Tim Muller’s latest creation. It has been to every MU softball game since Muller debuted it in April.
“Lindsey Muller’s father made this bomb van,” Missouri infielder Catherine Lee said. “Like, ‘Pimp my van.’ It’s really cool. Our parents get together and have a few adult beverages and some Coca-Colas, and they enjoy each other.”
Tim Muller, whose daughter Lindsey wears No. 22 for the Tigers, prefers to call it the “Zou Bus,” and with good reason. It sports a black exterior with a tiger face painted on the back, Mizzou logos on one side, and a picture of the entire 2011 softball team on the front. The team photo is signed by the squad members.
Inside, the Zou Bus is the ultimate fan cave. The steps offer the welcome message of “Step Up to Mizzou Softball.” The all-black, leather interior features a rounded limo-esque bench with another Mizzou logo sewn in. On the refrigerator, where soda and beer is chilled, are MU softball rally towels, hats and even a clock. The décor is tied together by a flat-screen television and supplemented by a collection of amplifiers and speakers.
“It was all-white when I got it, and there was nothing on the outside, nothing on the inside,” Muller said. “We built everything on the inside. I put over a thousand hours into it. It took over a year to build.”
Muller said he hoped that the van would help bring the families of softball players closer together.
“I wanted to do something kind of unique for the team so everybody had a focal point where we could meet,” he said. “Freshman year, when Lindsey came here for fall ball, everybody kind of dispersed. Nobody hung around and talked. When you do something like this bus, everybody gets together around it.”
The bus has been well received by the other softball parents.
Pamela Schweisberger said that just about everyone feels like they have a stake in the Zou Bus.
"We have something like this for all the parents to share," she said. "It’s a pretty cool thing to have for the team. It’s his (Muller’s), but it’s not just his. It’s the team’s. It’s ours."
The members of the team are also on board with the Zou Bus.
Lee said that she particularly enjoys the van’s most audible feature: the air horns.
“During the games when someone hits a home run or we make a great play, you hear this horn go off,” Lee said. “You’re not allowed to bring horns into the game, so he presses a button, and it comes from the parking lot.”
With a win in this weekend’s best-of-three Super Regional series against Washington, Missouri will advance to its third consecutive Women’s College World Series. If the Tigers advance to Oklahoma City, the Zou Bus will follow them there.
“It’ll be there,” Muller said. “If all goes well, it’s gonna say 2011 National Champions on it soon.”