February 12, 2008
You could consider this group party planners, energetic event organizers, but at John Paul Jones Arena basketball games, they're simply known as Fan Patrol. Their job, to entertain fans during the time-outs and breaks.
"We want to have the best environment in the country. That was our goal from the very beginning of basketball season here at JPJA, and we knew that to engage all of our fans, we knew we needed to have a young, energetic group to accomplish that goal,' said Assistant Athletic Director Devin Crosby.
UVa students and alumni make up Fan Patrol.
"It's just a great opportunity that I already followed so very closely. It's a unique chance to go behind-the-scenes and help out with I've always been a fan of," said David Henley of Fan Patrol.
Their behind-the-scenes work begins well in advance of the game. In fact the brainstorming sessions begin in the summer.
"We have great resources between Craig Littlepage, we know everyone in the NBA, every college in the country, to get ideas to share idea," said Henley.
The Fan Patrol treats the games much like a live performance or drama. There's a script that 40 people follow to stay in sync on this stage.
Armed with their game plan, they hit the court three hours before tipoff to rehearse.
Then it's game time, for the 15,000 UVa fans and Fan Patrol.
"People start to remember you from week to week, it's really exciting," said Tessa Nunn of Fan Patrol.
A media timeout is called and the Fan Patrol hits the court. Free t-shirts spiral into the seats where fans grab for them, like candy off a parade float.
During another break in the game action, the fan patrol sweeps the arena from the floor seats to the rafters for a pizza giveaway.
But there's more than just free food here. One of the pizza boxes holds an mp3 player.
As halftime appears, the fan patrol holds the audience's attention with interactive games, dance routines and preparing the court for the halftime show, The BMX stunt team, that's traveled from California.
The ref's whistle blows and we're back for the second act.
Fans gear up for the basketball game, and a trivia game. This fan's been plucked from the crowd to play, and hoo fans nearby blurt out the answer to help him grab his winnings.
Winning smiles and smooches are the next fan patrol event on the timeline. In the this entertaining scene fan patrol camermen scan unsuspecting couples who will either play it up for the camera and kiss or shy away. It's a fan favorite.
And from the looks of the smiles on these fans' faces, fan patrol put on a winning performance.