This fan takes volleyball to a whole new level.
In a University of Miami sport that only a dozen or so regulars frequent, sophomore Ian Chambers, along with a fluctuating combination of fellow sophomores Charlie Roberts and Luke Barton, attends nearly every volleyball game.
Sitting in the second row of the Knight Sports Complex wearing a neon orange wig, Chambers rises to his feet and begins to lead the crowd in a “Go Canes” chant.
“We actually really enjoy it,” said Chambers, who has missed only two games the entire season. “We just became fanatics. I’m just obsessed – I love it, I can’t get enough of it.”
The players and coaches can’t seem to get enough of it either, and they’ve taken note of Chamber’s devotion. He makes sure that the group arrives early to each match so that they can give Miami the half hour pre-game cheering he feels the Hurricanes deserve.
Sophomore outside hitter Lane Carico says she loves the support and enthusiasm they bring to the Knight Sports Complex and head coach Nicole Lantagne Welch really appreciates the home court advantage Chambers and his friends have provided.
“The very first game I noticed them right away, and all I could say is ‘this is great; this is what college athletics is all about,’” Lantagne Welch said. “You want to have people that are going to go nuts at your games, support you in every situation and we love having them in the stands…it just brings a smile to my face to know that they’re out there for us.”
Chambers orchestrates all of the cheers from the bleachers.
“We almost always lead something with [team mascot] Sebastian,” Chambers said. “He’s usually sitting with us so we’ll start up a ‘Go Canes’ [chant] or something like that.”
The effort and support they have brought to the team really does make a difference, and one man who can truly appreciate that difference is Bryan Harvey. He is the sports information director for volleyball, rowing, women’s tennis and swimming and diving, all sports with relatively low fan bases and media coverage.
“I think that Ian provides the volleyball student-athletes with an experience similar to the one teams like basketball and football receive at every game,” Harvey said. “I honestly believe the volleyball team thrives on the energy provided by not only Ian, but the entire crowd, as a whole.”
As to where Chamber’s knack for fanaticism comes from, look no further than his parents, both of whom are avid college sports fans.
They are in no way taken aback by his devotion to the volleyball team because it is something they have seen plenty of times before, during Ian’s high school days.
“I am not surprised at all by Ian’s enthusiasm,” said Kathy Chambers, Ian’s mother. “He made his sister’s field hockey games the place to be in high school. His younger teammates and friends still paint their chests and come to the big games. Many of them let me know when they see Ian on ESPN at a [Hurricanes] football game…that orange wig has certainly gotten its wear.”
Ian will be sporting his trademark orange wig at Miami’s final three volleyball matches of the season. The Canes play Maryland Friday at 7 p.m., Boston College Sunday at 1 p.m. and conclude the regular season with No. 16 Florida State Nov. 25 at 1 p.m.
Adam Berger may be contacted at email@example.com.