Anatomy of a Wacko
It is not unusual to hear “Row,Row, Row,” at a Bethel College men’s basketball game. Actually, it’s one of the few times you’ll ever see the student section sit down during a game. This cheer demonstrates their fan name — the Wiekamp Wackos.
This January marked the 13th year of the Wiekamp Wackos. The name came about in 1997, as Men’s Basketball Head Coach Mike Lightfoot saw a need for a name that would encompass the excitement students have for Bethel basketball.
The name has stuck and the students have embraced their role. The Wackos are the students who stand and yell, wear crazy outfits from time to time and come up with unique cheers like the trash can cheer. For this cheer the Wackos bring a trash can on the court. When they take the lid off, the rest of the Wackos yell. When they put it back on, the Wackos are quiet.
Some might say, “So what. They’re crazy fans. A lot of teams have them.” But Lightfoot says these wacko fans are crucial. “The Wiekamp Wackos mean a lot more than people realize,” says Lightfoot. “What helps make a team successful is fan support, fans who are knowledgeable of the game, who know when it’s a critical time, and who know when we need a key basket or stop.”
Through the years the fans have helped create a unique home court advantage for men’s basketball. The team holds one of the longest home winning streaks in any level of college basketball. The streak started back in January of the 2007 season.
“They have had a big impact on outcomes of games,” says Lightfoot. “They have made so much noise that it’s hard for our opponents to communicate with one another.”
Robby Hamman (’10), a veteran Wacko, believes there are only two real requirements to be a Wacko. “All you need is a body and to just be loud,” says Hamman.
While the students change from year to year, there’s one thing that remains the same — the Wiekamp Wacko tradition. It’s a small section in the stands for fans with a big role to fill.
Watch this video to see the Wackos in action: