Updated: May 21, 2015 at 4:42 p.m.
Never particularly athletic like some of his siblings, Ed Metz wanted to be a cheerleader at his high school, but positions were never offered to men. But in 1980, GW’s cheerleaders needed a male for their squad — and the GW temporary worker-turned-senior secretary finally got the gig.
He lasted just one year.
“Students were throwing trash into my megaphone,” Metz said. “So then I thought, ‘It’s time to retire at the end of the season,’ and I did.”
Then the 30-year-old reject cheerleader took to rooting on the sidelines, and over time became an institution at the Smith Center.
But the Colonials are now in need of a new No. 1 fan. Thirty-five years later, Metz is ending his career as a Smith Center mainstay to go back home to Ohio after losing his partner of 40 years to a heart attack.
“He was really a game changer and he will be missed,” three-year starting small forward Patricio Garino said.
Metz could always be found hanging over the baseline first row seats, behind the backboard, on the GW bench side. He would get there before game time and jump to his feet in full applause when GW Cheer would enter the arena.
Known as the “G-Dub guy,” Metz would stand up at a break in the action during a basketball game, stretch out his arms wrapped in the sleeves of a buff-colored turtleneck accompanied by a blue beanie hat and chant in his raspy voice — hoarse from years of rooting for his GW favorites.
He would form a big “G” with his arms, crossed, with hand over hand and the student section sends back a YMCA-styled “W” roaring the second part of the cheer, “Dub.”
Since Metz started the chant a few years ago, it has become a favorite. He finds it easy to do from up in the stands looking toward the Colonial Army. When Metz missed a few games this season, the students picked up the chant — keeping the tradition alive in a way that could have had freshmen thinking it had been going for decades.
“You can hear his voice, and when the rest of the building interacts with him after he chants ‘G’ and everyone else chants ‘Dub,’ it’s a special sight to witness,” three-year starting point guard Joe McDonald said.
Born and raised in Buckeye nation, Metz grew up in Ohio with seven siblings. His father wasn’t a sports guy, but two of his brothers played — one high school football and the other soccer. Metz took a liking to basketball in high school, where his school was a regional powerhouse.
When he graduated he headed to the Ohio State University. He studied engineering, but never graduated. Metz would start an English degree at GW but never complete it either. What Metz did do during his time as a Buckeye was pick up a love for football. From 1966 to 1983, he said he never missed a Ohio State–Michigan football game. Soaked in a culture of winning, he learned how to become not just a fan but a fanatic.
Metz had moved from Ohio to D.C. in 1975 to work for IBM in Manassas, Va. He chose the location because he could stay with family members in the area, and had no idea he would end up rooting for the Colonials.
“My mom came up here and I brought her in here to see, and she said, ‘This is a basketball arena?'” Metz said. “She couldn’t believe that I was rooting for such a small school like this.”
He was wandering around Foggy Bottom one afternoon when he stumbled in on a basketball game between GW and West Virginia, a battle in the old Southern Conference.
“I went over and sat in that section there,” Metz said, pointing across the Smith Center from his usual game day perch. “It was all West Virginia fans in here and I didn’t know who to root for because I wasn’t a GW fan or anything. So I started cheering for GW because they went ahead.”
The Smith Center and GW basketball program have grown since the days when Metz, who became a season ticket holder after that first season, used to sit with the students in the bleacher-style stands.
“Primitive seating, but you were kind of jammed in,” Metz said. “A big game after we’d win, they’d rush the floor. It was just more intimate. Now it’s just more individual seats. It’s just a little different.”
Metz said he was nearly done with the Colonials in 1989 when the team went 1-27 on the season.
“I thought I was going to give up,” Metz said. “I couldn’t believe it.”
But the crowd kept him coming back. He hung around and the team rose to success under Mike Jarvis and Karl Hobbs. GW took a trip to the Sweet Sixteen with Yinka Dare and Dirkk Surles in 1993. In 2006, Metz headed to Greensboro, N.C. to see the team lose to No. 1 Duke by 13, in what he calls his favorite season.
Metz can be like a Colonial basketball encyclopedia. He remembers the golden years with no waning lust and can recall key baskets by his favorites, like 2012 alumnus Tony Taylor, the “fierce” and “intimidating” Mike Brown and Shawnta Rogers, “the Mighty Might.”
“He had an uncanny way of igniting an arena, and was as responsible as anyone for augmenting our home court advantage,” athletic director Patrick Nero said. “We’ll need a new Ed to emerge next season.”
This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that Tony Taylor is GW’s all-time leading scorer. Chris Monroe is GW’s all-time leading scorer. We regret this error.