By Kellie Lagoy
A sea of students jumping and chanting. The fans shaking the fence, screaming and cheering for their team. The excitement is palpable to everyone watching. The question is, “Who is getting the fans so fired up?”
One look through the crowd of inspired fans, and you automatically know who got the fans to have such passion. Amidst the chants and cheers there is a student in a Marlin-studded baseball helmet, jumping up and down or running back and forth with the large flag. This is the person getting the fans out of their seats.
Sophomore Evan Hockensmith has changed the meaning of being a sports fan at Virginia Wesleyan. He goes to as many games as he can and he makes sure to cheer even louder at every one. Despite being such an avid sports fan, he can’t seem to pick just one sport as his favorite. He’s got an eclectic sports taste that ranges from Olympic pingpong to college basketball.
Hockensmith’s love for being the big fan didn’t just start at Virginia Wesleyan. He began his fandom back during his senior year of high school. He enjoyed sporting events because they were a better environment than many others he could have been in, and it kept him and his friends out of trouble.
His high school years brought a tradition he carries on at Virginia Wesleyan. Hockensmith wears a signature baseball helmet covered in stickers of the Marlins. In high school, he wore a multitude of sports helmets. “It was like we were ready to go into battle,” said Hockensmith. It was something outrageous, and he did this as a way to stand out. He brought all of these things to the stands at Virginia Wesleyan.
Not many are like Hockensmith in the stands, and he wishes more fans would join in the fun with him. “It shows a pride in the community,” said Hockensmith. Even though everyone may not be as fanatical as he is, his enthusiasm for the school has already brought about a change in just one short year. In 2013, no more than 20 people were in the stands for basketball games, and now the lack of open seats has some fans sitting on other’s laps or on the steps.
Hockensmith doesn’t attribute his new-found stardom to just himself. He gives thanks to senior Isaac Arrington and senior Blake Eshelman. Those two invited him to be more than just a regular fan, and he has done just that. He hears the term “Marlin Crazies” when people refer to him and his band of excited fans.
“I like seeing people recognizing what I’m doing here,” said Hockensmith.
More than just the fans notice what he’s doing for the school. Campus security guards have their eyes on him at most of the sporting events. None of the attention from the security guards fazes him, though.
“They’re here to protect us, and it’s not a bad thing. I don’t want to cross the line, and they let me know where the line is,” said Hockensmith. He’s been talked to, and he’s been given his fair share of warnings, but only warnings. Hockensmith will push the limits, but he knows when it’s time to calm down.
His love for sports and for Virginia Wesleyan has given him a place to call home now. Hockensmith loves what Virginia Wesleyan embodies and what the school wants to show others.
“It’s all about bringing people together and having a shared identity,” said Hockensmith. He is fond of the unity on campus, and will miss it when his time comes to graduate.
He wants to make sure he builds a tradition in his time at Virginia Wesleyan. When he left high school, he made sure to pick someone to fill his shoes, and that’s what he hopes to do when he leaves VWC. It wouldn’t be the same to go to a basketball game without someone hooting and hollering the way Hockensmith does at every game. It’ll be hard to find someone that would embody what it means to be a Marlin as he does, but there are still two more years before that search will happen.
“I hope I brought out the pride at school,” said Hockensmith.