They come in all shapes and sizes. They sport the colored wig and the painted chests, and they rocked the retro Goodwill clothes that scream team spirit two sizes too small. They are the fans. They are dedicated and can be found at all sporting events, but at Linfield, they tend to turn up at soccer games.
The die-hard fans can also be identified as hecklers. The Dictionary.com definition of the word heckle is “to harass (a public speaker, performer, etc.) with impertinent questions, gibes or the like; badger.”
The leader of the Linfield hecklers, senior Stephen Dennis, said they only use intelligent, classy and ad hominem attacks.
“We don’t settle for ‘Hey Rick, you suck,’” Dennis said.
At the soccer games, the hecklers help the Wildcats by badgering the other team.
“We make fun of their haircut, shorts, hometown — anything we can. But obscenities cross the line. We keep it pretty PG; it is a family event,” Dennis said.
The Linfield soccer hecklers show up and sit in the front row, yelling at the opponents when they make mistakes or when they miss the ball. They shout out names or cheer when the Wildcats win tackles or dribble past a player, senior men’s soccer player Michel Camacho explained.
The Linfield soccer hecklers consist of a core group that varies in size depending on the game and the weather. The principal students behind the madness are Dennis and juniors Greg Larson, Josh Bott, Dan Harmon and John Frank. These fans support teams that don’t attract the same size crowd that sports such as football or basketball do.
“Soccer is the most conducive sport for heckling,” Dennis said. “You are just a couple of feet removed from the game. You have great proximity to the game. It is also a quieter sport compared to a sport like football. You get the most bang for your buck.”
Heckler Harmon agreed with Dennis.
“Soccer is not as enthusiastic as basketball. When you start yelling and heckling, it brings the fans into the game,” Harmon said.
The main idea behind heckling is not to be cruel or rude to the opposing team but to take its focus from the game and to frustrated the players.
Dennis explained that he is in a sports class in which he learned that an athlete only has so much attention he or she can give to spectators. He said he came together with the other hecklers to try and dominate that attention.
Although heckling can be a burden on the opposing team, one thing the group has to worry about is distracting the team it is there to support. Luckily, the Wildcat soccer players are in full support of the heckling of the other team.
“It is not distracting at all,” Camacho said. “It’s awesome when the crowd gets into it. It gives you a little extra motivation and fuel, especially in close games when you are fighting to keep a lead or fighting to get that goal in the end.”
Senior Carter Elhabbassi, also on the men’s soccer team, agreed with Camacho.
“It does not distract me at all. I’m usually focused on the game, so all the extra stuff gets zoned out,” he said. “If the ball goes out or randomly I hear them, it is funny.”
He thought the Heckling has a negative affect on opponents, Elhabbassi said.
“I like them doing that [heckling the other team] because sometimes you can tell that it gets to the players on the other team and it messes them up,” he said.
Dennis said the hecklers are a constant factor for our players. The other team is simply not accustomed to the heckling.
“It is a novel thing for the opponents,” he said.
The hecklers are often at the men’s games, although they show up to the women’s soccer games also on occasion.
“[The heckling] does not distract me,” senior women’s soccer player Sara Blake said. “I block everything out and focus on the game.”
Dennis will play for the men’s basketball team during the winter, so heckling in that sport is not an option for him, although he would love to see it continue in the students’ section.
“I can see it continuing into basketball when we get back from January Term, since some of us are going abroad,” Harmon, who will travel to Australia in January, said.
The hecklers would love company with intelligent, inventive and creative ideas, so join them on the soccer field Oct. 23 against Pacific Lutheran University and Oct. 24 against University of Puget Sound for the men’s games and on Oct. 23 against Pacific Lutheran for the women’s game.
by Corrina Crocker/Sports editor
Corrina Crocker can be reached at email@example.com.