June 11 — There are times when Brian Durocher hears a thing or two from Boston College players and coaches. He wouldn’t have it any other way.
The visiting Eagles often tell Boston University’s women’s ice hockey coach how exciting it is to play in front of BU fans at Walter Brown Arena, which, with fewer than 1,000 seats, rocks because of its low, tin ceiling and the music of the BU Pep Band.
‘If the visiting team is having that type of experience, you can imagine how exciting and fun it is for our team as well,’ Durocher said.
Men’s hockey co-captain Matt Gilroy couldn’t agree more about the magic of the Green Line match-up.
‘A BC game is exciting because it’s our rivalry, but a BC game [at the Eagles’ Conte Forum] is not as crazy,’ he said. ‘It’s not as exciting.
‘We go to different rinks all season and there’s some [fans] that just stink. There’s nothing like playing at Agganis Arena with both student sections packed on a Saturday night. It’s probably one of the best experiences.’
With 23 Division-I teams, many of which regularly compete for conference championships, BU’s sprawling campus is united on game nights, Athletics Director Michael Lynch said.
‘A lot of BU fans, we suffer a loss and it kind of puts a real buzz kill on the rest of the night,’ said track and field team member Mike Salem. ‘BU fans really take their teams to heart and really do live and die with every play.’
THE DOG POUND
David Barth is better known at BU basketball games as ‘the kid in the cape,’ but behind the scarlet spandex and pom-pom hair he has a goal for the athletic program.
This fall, Barth will co-lead the Dog Pound, the student-run fan organization that urges members of the BU community to participate in sporting events on and off campus. Together with Lynch and the rest of the Athletics Department, Barth hopes to continue the increase in fan attendance that has been seen in recent years. Every team has increased its fan base, most notably the men’s basketball team, which saw a 15 percent attendance jump last season.
Barth, also a member of the track and field team, said students must realize that cheering on the Terriers is more than a pastime, but rather a community-building experience that makes students feel as if they are ‘part of something special.’
‘Come stand with us, introduce yourself to one of us and just be a part of the group,’ he said. ‘We’ll invite you right in.’
Salem, also a Dog Pound co-leader, said he has seen multiple sides to the fan culture at BU as both an athlete and a trombone player for the Pep Band, and he knows firsthand how devoted fans can help athletes reach the top of their game.
‘People don’t believe that you can affect the outcome of a game — Oh, you can. You really can,’ he said. ‘The ‘Boston’ is across the front of their jerseys for a reason, because it’s across the front of everyone’s shirt.
‘Whether you’re an athlete out there competing, or you’re a member of the Dog Pound, or just a fan cheering on the teams — all three of those groups have the same goal, which is you want to see another banner at the end of the year,’ he said.
Ross Lichtenberg is a devout follower of BU athletics. So much so that he has attended every hockey, basketball and lacrosse game for the past two years — dressed as Jesus. A longtime sports fanatic, Lichtenberg said the idea came to him in a dream. His main goal: get students excited about sports. Along with high school friend Brian Fadem — who dons a hotdog costume — the dynamic duo has developed quite a following.
‘We kind of made ourselves the figureheads of the BU fans,’ said Lichtenberg, a former Daily Free Press sports columnist.
The fans are not limited to BU students, either.
‘Kids at other schools know the Hot Dog and Jesus,’ said men’s basketball guard Corey Lowe. ‘[They’re] definitely a favorite.’
Fadem said his original reason for dressing up was to ‘freak the other team out,’ but he and his biblical buddy have since become fans who persuade others to attend games.
‘We’re something to look at,’ said Fadem, also a former Daily Free Press sports columnist. ‘Something to pay attention to when the team is not playing well or there’s a break in the action. I like being a source of entertainment for others if they can’t really get into sports.’
While Lowe favors the Hot Dog and Jesus, men’s basketball co-captain Matt Wolff said he misses the Pep Band during away games, noting it is ‘on another level.’
‘You know it’s a BU game because of the band,’ Lynch said.
Dance Team Treasurer Kate Stanton and co-captain Allie Bradley agree the Pep Band makes games uniquely BU.
‘We sort of have a relationship with the band where we cheer them on and they cheer us on, and together we cheer on the team,’ Stanton said.
Athletes and band members also double as fans, becoming just another face in the crowd.
‘Until BU, I never once sat at a game, never once sat at a basketball game, never once sat through a soccer game,’ said Pep Band mellophone player Geraldo Quezada. ‘BU showed me sports.’