Behind every good team should be a dedicated fan base. That base should include members willing to stand outside for hours when the wind chill is in the single digits.
With the expected packed house for Tuesday’s basketball game between No. 11 K-State and No. 3 Kansas, K-State students camped out early for a good seat.
Seniors Marty Thompson, Blake Koblitz and Brandon Litch became the start of the line for their group at 5:30 a.m. Tuesday. At 10:30 a.m., their group remained the only ones in their area.
Thompson and Koblitz have been doing this for five years to maintain a spot on the front row in Bramlage Coliseum. They’re a part of a group that’s typically seven or eight people.
If there’s a basketball game at Bramlage, the crew will be there early to secure their front row seats in the non-assigned seating in the student section.
“I’m not really sure how it happened,” Koblitz said of the tradition. He said another friend started waiting with him and Thompson; gradually it grew.
Matt McCasland, a senior, said people sometimes recognize him due to his prominence at the game. “You’re that dude who holds the signs up,” McCasland said people tell him.
It takes dedication to stand in line for hours even when the weather is nice. What is there to do on a morning when the temperature didn’t hover too far above 20 degrees and a wind chill below 10 degrees most of the time?
Similar to a successful basketball team, teamwork is the catalyst to surviving. The group bundled up, got chairs and sleeping bags, and chatted.
“We just hang out and talk of the basketball game,” Litch said. “Anything that’s going on.”
They also work in shifts to make sure everybody can go to class, eat and go to the restroom. Tuesday was the first day of classes for K-State’s spring semester.
“Definitely don’t come by yourself,” Koblitz said. “Have some people to talk to.”
It’s a senior-laden crew, but freshman Kolby Harris represents some new blood. He said he’s been learning about what time to come out in line, which depends on the game.
Harris said he got the invite from Litch, his fraternity brother. “He knew I was a pretty big sports fan,” Harris said. “I’m one of the few freshmen with (preferred seating) tickets. They sold out pretty quick.”
Tuesday morning was cold and windy, but it wasn’t the worst the group had experienced.
The worst was the Jan. 18, 2010 game against Texas. They witnessed a 71-62 win against the nation’s No. 1 team but had to endure colder temperatures, higher winds and freezing rain to see it.
“It was terrible but worth it to beat the No. 1 team in the country,” McCasland said.
This year’s K-State team under first-year coach Bruce Weber looks promising at 15-2 and tied for first place in the Big 12 with Kansas.
Despite the nice start, the fan support so far was deemed less than stellar as the group waited for tickets. “They’re fun to watch,” Litch said. “I don’t think people are buying into the new coach yet.”
Koblitz said he was also excited about the team’s play. “I love what I’m seeing so far,” Koblitz said. “I think we’re even better than our expectations this year.”
Harris said the team has gained experience. “I love that our team is always diving after loose balls,” Harris said. “We’re not a lazy team.”
These aren’t lazy fans either. The crew said they were ready for the game and hoped the players would be, too.
“If any of them don’t get jacked for this game, there’s something wrong,” McCasland said.