By Tye Taylor
For Homecoming 2010, junior Isaiah Peachey and sophomore Matt Kearney had an idea.
The year before, Peachey and Kearney had been a part of a group of Olivet students (mostly track and cross country guys) who had decided to go cheer for the women’s basketball team, calling themselves “Tigerball Fanatics.”
This year, Peachey and Kearney wanted to step it up a notch.
The two made sure to get permission from the administration first. Then for the women’s opening exhibition game during homecoming weekend, Peachey, Kearney and some other male students walked into McHie Arena and took off their shirts to reveal letters spelling “TIGERBALL” painted on their chests.
“While we were in the bathroom painting our chests, it was a cool feeling knowing that we were starting something that would become a tradition during the women’s basketball games,” said junior Colton Smith.
As many of these fans participate in sports themselves, they know the value of having fans cheering them on during games.
“The Tigerball fans consist mainly of Olivet men from cross country, track, and football,” Peachey said. “It’s an opportunity to get guys together to have fun and get more people involved.”
Peachey didn’t have a hard time finding male player support, as some of the Tigerball Fanatics have been showing school spirit for a long time.
“Even before I came to Olivet, I’ve always showed support for both women’s and men’s games as a fan,” junior Dusstin Proehl said.
Before the Tigerball Fanatics go out to the stands for a big game, they meet in the McHie arena bathroom and prepare by painting their chests. During the games, one can hear the group of fans cheering, particularly their ever popular “line change” yell every time a new rotation of players go in.
But the Tigerball Fanatics don’t want to be the only ones supporting the women’s basketball team. They extend their hand to fellow Olivet students in different ways to try and get them involved.
“We reach out to people around campus by reminding them to come to the games and sending messages on Facebook,” Smith said. “This is our way of showing our womens’ basketball team that we care.”
Some of the Tigerball fans come out not only to have fun and cheer for friends, but also to show their support of their family members.
“I’ve always supported my twin sister Rachel in her games,” Kearney said. He added that he has been to almost every game this season to support his sister and the rest of the team, including some that were away and over breaks.
Members of the women’s team have expressed gratitude to the group’s support, and even some of the coaches have commented on their cheering.
“I have heard that (women’s basketball head) Coach Porter even appreciates our attendance,” Smith said.” We should be renamed ‘Porter’s Posse.’”
Coach Porter’s team has certainly been successful this year, breaking several of their own national records. And as their road to nationals comes to an end with the ever important Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament, the Tigerball Fanatics are ready to continue to help cheer on the team to victory.