A funny thing happened on the afternoon of Sat., Feb. 28. A line stretched around the Smith Center a full two hours before the men’s basketball team played its last home game of the season against the University of Richmond. The sun was shining, the weather was warm, and the fans were pumped. The Colonials lost the game, 75-67, but the full house proved that GW supports its basketball team.
While some students became fans this year because of both the men’s and women’s basketball teams’ winning records, senior Chris Wilson has always been a “true fan” and will remain so, whether the team wins or loses.
Wilson is almost always in the stands of the Smith Center with his face painted buff and blue. Fans can hear his shrill cries of support from buzzer to buzzer. His GW-adorned car is seen cruising all over campus.
“True fans support their teams through thick and thin, and I hope the students that showed up in droves for the last couple of home games can see past Saturday’s loss and will continue that support for years to come,” he said.
Looking back at his freshman year, Wilson recalled his introduction to Colonials spirit.
“I got drawn into going through being in the band. I learned that the fans could change the atmosphere, that they could give the team a boost when they were down,” he said.
Wilson said having athletes who notice fans’ support encouraged him to follow GW basketball.
“I happened to be walking around on campus and ran into a couple players on the women’s team,” Wilson said. “They thanked me for my support in coming to all the games, and that kind of became the point at which I said this was all worth it.”
As a high school student in Laguna Beach, Calif., Wilson said he wasn’t as spirited there as he is at GW.
“I didn’t have time to get into sports in high school,” Wilson said. “I did marching band, jazz band, and with school and everything else, I didn’t have the energy to really get into the games.”
Wilson said other students pay attention to his enthusiasm for the Colonials.
“I get a fair amount of attention, most of it good but not all of it positive,” Wilson said. “In the past, my car has been keyed. Nasty notes have been left on my dashboard. You have to take it in strides.”
Aside from some medical problems in the 2002-03 season, Wilson said he has not missed more than one or two games each season. Even his car has GW spirit.
“I was at a women’s tournament in Oklahoma. When I parked my car, I saw another car all decorated for Villanova,” Wilson said. “I took that as a GW challenge. Decorating my car became all about my basketball spirit.”
Since then, Wilson said he has spent close to $1,000 on decorating his blue 1999 Saturn SL1 with GW logos and bumper stickers.
“My favorite feature of the car is the in-dash DVD player,” Wilson said excitedly. “Since I record all the GW games on DVDs, I can sit in my car at any time and watch them. There is nothing like a classic GW showdown to get you pumped up before a match.”
Wilson said GW spirit is gaining momentum.
“We aren’t a Duke (University) or (University of North Carolina) by any stretch of the imagination,” Wilson said. “However, we are moving in the right direction. There was a peak in ’97, ’98 and ’99. We slid downhill afterwards, but I think we are rebounding again.”
Kevin Broadus, assistant coach for the men’s basketball team, said Wilson’s support is important to the team and improves the mood on the court.
“It helps more than you think,” Broadus said. “Our guys feed off of fans.”
Some basketball players said that while they appreciate Wilson’s support, the GW fan base could be larger.
“Having fans like (Wilson) is always a positive,” said Greg Collucci, a senior on the men’s team. “Right now … the only room for improvement is to have every seat in the Smith Center taken with GW fans.”
Wilson said he enjoys supporting the Colonials.
“More than anything, this is just about having fun,” he said. “When you walk in half an hour before game time to see the stands packed, it’s amazing.”
Wilson’s future plans are uncertain right now. His senior status doesn’t mean this semester is his last.
“I’ll still be around next year,” Wilson said. “I’m having too much fun to leave now. As for after I graduate, who knows? I’ll probably still be in the area. If I can only figure out a way to get paid to do this, I’ll probably never leave.”