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Enthused Ohio fans ignite student sections
Correction: This article originally stated that Ryan Altenbach was the O-Zone president, but Tim McVey is the actual president. This article has been changed from its original form.
For those who have attended Bobcat sporting events, the striped pants of Ryan Altenbach, Ohio cape and Dr. Seuss hat of Tony Keffer, the crazed referee look of Joey Smart or the kilts of Thomas Fankhauser are a familiar sight.
These four Ohio University students exemplify what it means to be a “superfan” by taking pride in the Bobcats.
“I’m the kind of person who wears my heart on my sleeve 24/7, and what better way is there to express my love for the team then to just to yell and scream at every single game,” said Altenbach, a senior studying broadcast journalism.
For the Love of the Game
To the group, being a superfan is a way to show passion for something they truly love and, as Keffer said, it’s fun to be the loud, obnoxious and crazy fans.
It is more than just cheering and showing up, however; the O-Zone and Gang Green, two of OU’s organized student sections, have a history of producing original costumes with everything from wigs to capes and tutus to kilts, and each costume has a backstory.
“I ordinarily wear a kilt to the hockey games,” Fankhauser said. “I have been wearing kilts since junior high and I have a green kilt and so why not wear it to hockey games?”
Parts of Smart’s costumes are sometimes random, but the main focus of his outfit is his jacket from refereeing Division II hockey games at Bird Arena.
Keffer’s signature cape became part of his attire by accident when one of the flags on his hockey stick fell off; the junior studying sports management donned it as a cape, which has become the focus of his outfit ever since.
Other features of their costumes have come from giveaways and other purchases, and differ depending on the sport.
The O-Zone is a student organization that has a $25 fee for first-year members, but students don’t need to pay the fee to sit in the group’s designated section at events.
“The O-Zone is less of you need to join to be a member, it’s more, come sit and be loud; it’s the student section,” Altanbach said.
“Whether you have an O-Zone shirt or not, just get into the student section and be loud and be crazy.”
Gang Green is also a student organization, but differs from the O-Zone.
“It’s been around for a lot of years. It is a student organization, but it’s not as sanctioned and official as the O-Zone,” Gang Green president Keffer said.
One of the main differences is that Gang Green cheers strictly at hockey games, while the O-Zone participates at all other sporting events.
These organizations also have deep histories of cheers that were handed down to them.
Smart, a junior studying secondary education, will yell “stick” when a players loses his stick at hockey games in attempt to distract the opposing team’s players. That chant, he said, was handed down through the group.
But not all the cheers and chants have a long history behind them, as the group is continually inventing new ones.
“The one thing me and (my friend) R.P. came up with was, ‘you came a long way just to lose,’ ” Keffer said.
Gang Green yells the chant at the opposing team as the final seconds tick off the clock.
Get Loud, Get Proud
Fankhauser, a sophomore studying classical civilization, said he immediately felt welcomed into the group his freshman year.
The crowd is also crucial not only for cheering for Ohio, but also distracting the away team, as O-Zone and Gang Green are experts in creating a disturbance in communication between opposing coaches and players.
When it comes to missing games, these four are almost always in attendance, as Smart said he only misses games if he has something more important going on.
Keffer encourages all students that are loud and passionate to join the O-Zone or Gang Green, saying it is a great way to get involved on campus.
“If you’re loud and you’re going to cheer, come sit with us,” Keffer said. “We don’t care what year you are, we don’t care what experience you have.”