A Wahoo Fan's Lament: Have Suit, Can't Travel

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Greg Crapanzano's cinder-block dorm room at the University of Virginia is strewed with all the standard college student stuff and detritus: e.g., "Reno 911!" DVDs, soda cans piled high and a four-pound box of Goldfish. But underneath his bed, wadded up in his laundry bin, lies something that gives the second-year student a little edge on school grounds.

It's an orange tuxedo. It's 100 percent polyester. He has a matching hat and cane. He wears it to all the men's home basketball games at John Paul Jones Arena.

He's mad.

He's insane.

His mom might regret this.

But the reason the tux is in the hamper -- instead of, say, at the cleaners to get spiffy for U-Va.'s NCAA opener -- is that Crapanzano couldn't get tickets to tomorrow's game against Albany in Ohio. He's stuck in Charlottesville, he said, because the school gave out only so many cheap tickets via lottery. Unwilling to pay a scalper's premium online, Crapanzano is resigned to watching the game on a dorm TV. In a polo shirt and some shorts.

"It would have been awesome to be there," Crapanzano, 19, of Richmond, said yesterday as he sat on his bed and fiddled with his red bow tie. "I really wish I got a ticket. I've never worn [the tux] to an away game before."

To describe Crapanzano as merely a fan would be another injustice. As spirit committee chair for the 'Hoo Crew -- an athletic fan club named for U-Va.'s unofficial mascot, a fish called the wahoo -- Crapanzano attends nearly every home game. He also writes cheers and conducts opposition research on visiting teams so he can disseminate fact-checked insults to other U-Va. fans.

One "cheer sheet" he handed out when the Terrapins played at Charlottesville in January took aim at a hefty Maryland center. "Will 'He got the unlimited meal plan' Bowers," Crapanzano wrote. "In the very rare instance he shoots a free throw, chant, 'Are you even on the team?' "

"I love it," Crapanzano said. "That's the best part -- when you hear people chanting what you wrote."

-- Ian Shapira

© 2007 The Washington Post Company