Meet women's basketball's ultimate super fans
In a largely empty Mack arena, the chanting and stomping of a small group of supporters fills the quiet void. Some might describe them as hooligans, but that categorization would be a disservice to the impact they make on the competition at stake. Lining the front row of the student section, Hofstra’s men's club ultimate frisbee team never skips a beat to make their presence felt from tip-off to buzzer. One would be hard-pressed to find a group of more dedicated and engaged fans of Hofstra women’s basketball. The self-proclaimed “Flying Dutchmen” have been frustrating opposing benches and toeing the line between fandom and fanaticism for years.
I would know. This past year I was part of the team’s infamous “Lady Dutch Brigade”. I helped invade Stony Brook during a non-conference matchup, turning the road trip into a Hofstra home crowd advantage. I painted my hair pink along with the rest of the ultimate team in show of support for the Pride’s annual Play4Kay Think Pink game. I even plastered a giant blue “A” on my chest in a group effort to spell out “Hofstra” in the stands.
Our contributions are even more remarkable when you consider the lack of support the rest of the Hofstra community shows for women’s basketball. Home game after home game, the ultimate frisbee team members are the only students that make appearances in the stands. Our frantic exuberance at every three-pointer, missed shot or controversial call reverberates throughout the arena.
“[They’re] pretty much the only consistent fans that we had so we’re constantly feeding off [them],” said senior women’s basketball captain Boogie Brozoski.“The first time I was here I didn’t know who they were and I was like, ‘These guys are always at every game.’”
The club frisbee team has been supporting women’s basketball longer than anyone can remember. “We started going in November 2015 as freshmen,” said senior disc captain Tyler McCarthy. “It was a tradition by the time we got onto the team,” senior Adam Drill reiterated.
The love built up between both programs over the years. “There’s that special connection that we’ve built with the team and it’s like going to hang out with your best friends,” McCarthy said. “We’re there to support the people we love more than our mothers.”
That support manifests itself in many different ways. Whether the group is holding up gigantic poster board heads of Hofstra players, wildly chanting along with Pride cheerleaders or heckling opposing free throw shooters, the ultimate team does it all out of love for their program.
“We provide an environment that gives our girls the greatest opportunity to win,” McCarthy said. “All the while respecting both the game and the sportsmanship of character.” Drill put it best stating that he likes to keep it “fierce but classy.”
Uniquely, the ultimate team’s dedication to fandom goes beyond the game action. Prior to home matchups, team members put in work to carefully craft heckle sheets for opposing teams, researching information about opponents’ coaches and players. That effort sets the fans apart from most other sports fanatics.
“We do our research, we put in the work to get the heckle sheets done,” Drill said. “We’re not lazy fans,” McCarthy added.
The fanatical spectators take great pride in their heckle sheets and ability to get into opponents’ heads. Along with the usual side eyes from opposing benches, at times there will be some playful back-and-forth banter between players, managers and even coaches.
“My favorite memory is getting the other team’s coaches to talk back, because that is when you know you’ve won,” McCarthy said. “The coaches are there to be professional, so when you get in their heads and all of a sudden they have to chirp you back because that’s how much you’re knocking on their door, you’ve won. No matter what the score is we’ve won the game.”
This season the ultimate team stepped up to a whole new level not seen in years past, making an appearance at Stony Brook University in an early November road matchup. The group of fans carpooled across Long Island, where the Pride unfortunately suffered a brutal loss at the hands of the Seawolves. Despite the result, the fans show of support really resonated with the women’s basketball program.
“The Stony Brook game was really tough for us and [they] showed up to support which felt good,” said senior women’s basketball player Sica Cuzic. “[They’re] there consistently during the game, not just when we’re doing good, but also when we’re doing bad.”
Even though there may not have been as many high moments for Hofstra women’s basketball this year as their super fans would’ve hoped for, the program was able to put an exclamation point on their season in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) tournament. The No. 8 seeded Pride took down No. 1 seeded James Madison University in the largest upset victory in CAA tournament history, advancing Hofstra to the tournament semifinals. That victory gave McCarthy, Drill and another team member an excuse to skip classes for the day and make the three-hour car ride down to Delaware to catch their Pride in action.
“We honestly didn’t expect anyone to come, and when we saw [them] in the stands we were like, ‘Wow these guys are really dedicated, they really love us,’” Brozoski said.
The trip to the CAA tournament proved to be a bittersweet ending for senior team members on both sides. Hofstra fell in the semifinals to Towson University, but the Pride had already given the senior ultimate team members a phenomenal ending to their four-year journey as fans. As for Brozoski and Cuzic, what better way to end your collegiate career with Hofstra than a historic upset in the CAA tournament?
As basketball season has come to a close, the ultimate team does not wish for their special relationship with Hofstra women’s basketball to disappear.
As McCarthy suggested, “Now we’re looking forward to them coming out to one of our practices to hang out and play frisbee.”
Image courtesy of Max Underhill / The Hofstra Chronicle