GW die-hards hit the road

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – GW alumnus Alex Herrgott has been attending GW men’s basketball games since the Shawnta Rogers era. He said he has not missed a home game in five years, so he was not going to pass up the chance to see the Colonials open the 2004-05 college basketball season at Wake Forest Monday night.

The 2003 graduate came down with a group of about 10 friends, who each shelled out about $80 a ticket to sit in lower level seats at the Lawrence Joel Coliseum. Herrgott said he was willing to pay well over face value through a ticket broker for one reason.

“Because this game means more than anything my friends and I are doing now,” said Herrgott, who first attended a game while looking at GW as a high school senior in 1999. Win or lose, he said he and the Colonials have come along way since his college days, when he used to sneak out of men’s games to drink 40-ounce beers at halftime.

Unfortunately for the diehard, GW lost 97-76 to the No. 2 Demon Deacons. The few GW fans in attendance said the trip was still worthwhile. About 100 buff and blue road trippers peppered the arena, making them nearly invisible among the throngs of Deacons fans.

The home student section was in full effect for the nationally televised opener. At 5:20 p.m. the arena doors opened, sending swarms of Wake Forest students wearing black and gold tie-dyed T-shirts toward their seats like bees.

It was a scene foreign to the GW fans, but probably not to those familiar with North Carolina basketball. Immediately after the student section began filling up, a clump of students gathered beside the court and began to rib the Colonials players, who were stretching.

“Look at them,” said GW fan Evan Haas. “Who heckles the players when they’re stretching?”

“We do!” corrected his friend and fellow GW fan Mike Hileman. Hileman, Haas and Will Yung

traveled to the game on a student bus. Tickets cost only $4 each for GW students, but only 45 were available to purchase. To the chagrin of the trio of seniors, the seats were high in the upper deck of the arena.

They stood in a row with tri-colored foam hats watching warm-ups prior to the game. Each figured he would at least get see a close game. The experience will be positive, Haas said, “As long as we don’t lose by 20.”

“I could see it snowballing out of control,” he accurately predicted.

Junior Keith Freundlich stood behind Haas, Hileman and Yung. He also held up a sign that spelled out ESPN in red markers. This time, the letters stood for Everybody Supports Pops’ NCAA Run. While the sign showed creativity, the motivation for making it was simple.

“To be on TV,” Freundlich said smiling.

The other big GW fan sign had an interesting human element. Eleven fans painted single block letters on their chests spelling out GWU on ESPN 2. Members of the Pi Kappa Epsilon fraternity comprised the group of 10 that rented a van to drive down.

At one point in the game, the painted students chanted “Duke is better!” to which the Wake student section promptly responded with “Your school still sucks!” “Junior college” and “Stupid hats!” – a crack at the same foam hats seen around the Smith Center in recent years.

Back at GW, the scene was not nearly as raucous. A small group gathered in the Hippodrome and watched the game on flat screen televisions.

“It was really rowdy to begin with,” freshman Josh Schinerman said. “But it quieted down as the game got out of control.”

-Jake Sherman contributed to this report.

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