Why are we fans? More importantly, why would anyone become a Wake Forest fan? Let's look inside with Quzybuk.
Earlier, we ran a sponsored post with Hyundai about their Fanthropology -- more specifically, the nature of being a fan. After tallying the multitude of entries, i.e. the one Quzybuk wrote, he and I talked about being a Demon Deacon. It was a rewarding experience, and one I'd like to continue with everyone else in the comments.
Martin: We Wake Forest fans are an odd bunch. Small, fiercely passionate, relatively intelligent (for the most part), self-loathing, somewhat masochistic, but at the end of the day, we're like any other fanbase: we just want to see our team win. It seems you've got a story that is relatively common with Wake fanhood. Talk a little bit about that and how the man known as Quzybuk came to be.
Quzy: I was born and raised a Wake fan. I learned my ABCD's at a young age ("Anybody But Carolina or Duke"). My family (particularly the maternal side) is closely tied to the university in terms of legacy, employment, hell, even geographic location. My earliest memories as a baby involve the Wake campus. My first job was as a junior counselor at a Wake summer camp. It goes on and on.
Essentially, I consider Wake to be my home, both geographically and spiritually. Our alma mater refers to Wake as "Mother so Dear," and I find that to be an accurate description of my relationship to the school; I think my mother would probably acknowledge that fact as well.
Martin:I think it's interesting there is a real split -- half the Wake fans had that geographic or legacy tie, or they identified with the school on an underdog level, the other half got there and fell in love with the school or the sports teams -- but at the end of the day, a Demon Deacon is a Demon Deacon.
At least for me, I was a huge ACC fan in general. I loved Muggsy, so that was part of it, but Wake was just one of a few teams I enjoyed. I was a huge Xavier fan, so Skip factored into my decision to know about and like Wake Forest too. I had a short list of schools, Vanderbilt included, that gave me a small school feel with bigtime athletics. Sports are such a big part of my life, I couldn't imagine a situation where I went to a school that didn't put an emphasis on attending sporting events or making athletics a part of the collegiate experience.
What makes Wake fans different in your opinion? If we were trying to sell the Demon Deacons to someone who was looking for a team or was on the fence, what is the pitch?
Quzy: I think you can divide this question in half: what makes Wake fans different, and what makes Wake teams different.
For the fans, I think that there's a level of camraderie not found in larger fanbases. I lived for four years in Connecticut for law school, and occasionally I would see a Wake Forest sweatshirt or logo in my grocery store. Just from that sweatshirt, I could tell that the person wearing it was likely an alum, or a parent of an alum, or someone initially from the Winston-Salem area - either way, I had something in common with that person that you can't tell from an Ohio State or Notre Dame sweatshirt. You mentioned earlier that Wake fans tend to be
intensely proud of their school, and I think that plays a part too. Part of all of this is the fact that Wake is so teeny-tiny, but part of it is that, at least recently, we've been able to back up that pride with positive results (the past two years of men's basketball notwithstanding... and now I've made myself sad).
I think you bring up an interesting point. Wake has been fairly consistently successful nationally in the bigger sports, but not so successful as to cause a backlash. A lot of the fans of other ACC schools don't mind us, or claim Wake as a secondary rooting interest. Part of that comes from being "little old Wake Forest," but I think a large part of it comes from respect given to the school, to its fans, and to its teams. You don't see people claiming Duke as a secondary rooting interest (and if you do, I recommend steering clear of said people, for they are evil).
As for what makes Wake teams different... let's call it the Tim Duncan Effect. Wake's rise to national prominence athletically coincided with the Duncan era, and largely with Timmy himself. And I think Duncan largely shaped the image of the school. Some people might find him boring on the court, but he's extremely smart, quick-witted, a bit of
a geek/nerd/dork, philanthropic... outside of Kevin Garnett who may or may not be a sociopath, I don't think I've ever heard anyone say a bad word about Tim. He's the kind of guy that you'd want to hang out with if he wasn't famous. And I think he tends to embody the public image of Wake and its athletes as a whole, and not necessarily inaccurately.
There is only one time that I've ever been ashamed of being a Wake fan. My last semester was the Fall 2006 semester, when Wake made the run to the Orange Bowl. One of the bigger games that season was Virginia Tech, which was televised nationally and in primetime. Well, obviously that gives the students all day to liquor up. In addition to that, more students showed up than there was room in the student section (which as you probably know, is not a large portion of the stadium).
On top of that, Virginia Tech is only 2 hours away, and its fans travel in droves. So there were VT fans all around the drunk Wake students. As I was walking in, I happened to be behind a family - white parents with an African-American child. And the students were screaming racial epithets at this family. I actually stopped them and apologized. That's not Wake Forest. It may be standard in other parts of the country, but that's not Wake Forest. I hope those students - whomever they are or wherever they are - are ashamed of that day.
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