Blugold’s unique fans do more than just cheer

Last year, the Blugold men’s basketball team suffered its first losing season in both its overall and conference records under coach Terry Gibbons, finishing 11-14 and 3-13, respectively.

During this time, sophomore Aaron Miller, the team’s promotions director, said that the Blugolds’ fan attendance plummeted due to the tough season. It was not until this season that Miller devised an idea to help boost attendance and support the team.

He spoke to sophomores Jordan Krause and Chris Ziemke about putting together a support group. They both agreed.

“Once we heard what (Miller) wanted, we got some guys together and went for it,” Krause said.

This support group, which goes by the name High Gravity, makes appearances at every home game for the ‘Golds while sporting the “old school” jerseys from the 1980-’81 season. The group made its first appearance Nov. 22 at the university’s Tip-Off Tournament.

“We were originally called the UWEC Goldtrotters,” Ziemke said. “We figured that High Gravity just sounded like a good basketball team name.”

Krause said his best memory so far this season came during the Tip-Off Tournament. After he drained a half-court shot during half-time, the guys got to take the floor and do the three-man weave to get the crowd excited.

“We just started all of this for fun,” Krause said. “People around campus are seeing this and are coming to the games.”

The fans are not the only ones who have noticed High Gravity. The players are well aware of their presence, too.

“I think it’s a cool thing that they are doing,” sophomore guard Will Jefferson said. “They have helped the attendance and are boosting the fans’ spirits.”

Gibbons also has noticed the fan club and the excitement they bring to the games.

“The fans have been our sixth man,” Gibbons said. “They are such a motivating factor for this team.”

High Gravity has attended nearly every home game this season, missing only the Holiday Classic and two conference games because of the winter break. They also made an appearance at UW-Stout for a road game that the ‘Golds won 80-74.

“Home-court advantage is huge in college basketball,” Miller said. “These guys are bringing great home court advantage to the team and it’s paying off.”

Eau Claire’s home record this year with High Gravity in the stands is 5-1, compared to its record when the group is absent, 2-2. The ‘Golds started the season with a 10-1 record.

Krause said he intends to keep this new tradition going, regardless of the team’s success.

“Just being there and cheering on the team is such a fun thing to do,” he said. “I hope we can continue it even after I graduate.”

Another college that has found success with super fans is the St. John’s University (Minn.) Johnnies.

“I just don’t think that name does anything,” Ziemke said. “I believe that High Gravity has a unique sound to it and that’s what makes this group special.”

At every home game, the group brings with it new surprises. For their most recent appearance last Saturday, High Gravity brought with them their own “Gibbons,” attempting to make their group even more authentic to the team itself.

“We intend to keep everyone on their toes,” Ziemke said. “They’ll have to come to the remaining home games to see what we’re going to do next.”

Eau Claire is finishing up a three-game road trip with two games remaining against No. 9 nationally ranked UW-Stevens Point and UW-La Crosse. High Gravity will resume their home court presence Feb. 8 when the ‘Golds host UW-River Falls.