Western Michigan Copycats (My Lawson Arena Experience)

Submitted by SouthForestAve on January 9th, 2010 at 1:52 AM
I attended Friday night's hockey game at Western Michigan (a 4-3 victory for the Wolverines). I'm a recent U-M grad living in Kalamazoo with some friends who go to WMU and they were excited to take me to see a game at Lawson Arena and show me just how "wild" things can get there. If I'm being generous, the arena was about halfway filled, and there was plenty of room in the student section. The students don't go back till Monday, so that might have something to do with it, but still you would expect some excitement when UM comes to town at least from the general population; it's really Western's only chance to beat Michigan at something and they usually play us tough.

At WMU all you have to do to go to a sporting event is to show your student ID and you get in for free, which is a nice money-saver for die-hard fans but doesn't give people a vested interest in being there. That may explain why in the 3rd period with the game tied at 2 a bunch of students left allowing us to move to the front row along the blue line. A lot of people just go to talk and hang out and then leave when they get bored, not caring about the game. I took the same friends to the Michigan-WMU football game this past season and they were impressed at how all the students paid for their tickets, stayed the whole game and paid attention. They liked the sense of community you get at Michigan, which seems to be a far cry from the Western Michigan experience.

The opposing fans were polite enough, the parking lot attendant gave me a lame "No Wolverines Allowed" line as I walked in, and one student said "What are you doing here?" but nothing too hostile. I guess I shouldn't complain about politeness from opposing fans, but it wasn't as wild as I expected after seeing the taunts we at U-M give to opposing fans (ugly parents, If you can't get in to college go to state) or the nasty things I've heard from MSU fans at games there. It was sort of disappointing actually.

Then there was the copying of Michigan's cheers. Whenever Michigan got a penalty they would start waving and then when the player entered the penalty box they would say "See ya bitch, you're a cheater!" My friends immediately turned to me and said 'what do you think of our chants?' I said they got that from Michigan, only ours was more elaborate. They said I'm just being arrogant. They were so proud of that chant. One person said "That chant got us banned from TV by the NCAA, it's the reason our games can't be televised." I said bullshit, Michigan fans say stuff way worse than that 10 times a game and they get on TV all the time, you're not on TV because you're Western (the truth) but that is their legend on campus. After Western scored they pointed at our goalie and said "Sieve Sieve Sieve It's all your fault..." After hearing that I was just offended, can't these kids come up with their own shit to say? That is word for word Michigan's chant. My friends just thought I was jealous of their schools creative genius (I think we took the word "Sieve" from an Eastern school, but we at least improved upon the chant with the "all your fault" part). The only thing I had never heard before was when they spelled out O-R-G-Y "What does that spell? Orgy! What does that mean? Teamwork Teamwork Teamwork" I thought that was alright but they probably got that from somewhere else too.

Michigan won a close game but with Western being a CCHA bottom-feeder, it was a bit too close. I'll take the win, but it was a disappointing experience as the visitor. Walking out after the game I didn't get the feeling of pride I get when walking out of Munn Arena with Michigan gear on after we beat MSU. It was just kinda 'so what'. Hockey is supposed to be the biggest sport at WMU because they get to play in the same league as the big boys. I got the feeling that most of the students there really don't care about their school's sports, and most probably cheer for Michigan or MSU as their primary team anyway.



January 9th, 2010 at 3:25 AM ^

Was that originally from Yost as well? I'd never heard it there, heard it first from my cousin and thought it was just him being weird. His other idea was for everyone in our row to gently rub their hands on someones head as they walked by our row. You'd be surprised how many people would have zero reaction, despite getting gently head molested for about ten people in a row. Each person would go for as long as they could reach too, so you'd have 3-4 people with their hands on someone's head at once.

david from wyoming

January 9th, 2010 at 2:24 AM ^

A lot of hockey chants are 'stolen' from other teams. I forget which chants we've stolen and which we've created on our own. It's nothing to get upset about, it's just the way it is. Sometime the student section getting wonderfully creative in chants and taunts. The last two years I used to single out the backup goalie and just rid him all night, congratulating him on working the bench door, telling him to get ready when there was a blowout, stuff like that. My last year I even tried to friend all of the goalies in the CCHA just to get more info on them. (boarder line creepy, I know, but it was so much fun) But in general, the main chants are more common than you would first think.

The best thing about Yost (imo) is how much everyone cares about the game. It's on the same level of a European soccer game. 100 percent of the crowd is watching every single moment. That is the primary thing that makes Yost special, just the simple fact that everyone cares so damn much. You just don't find that outside of a very few places in North America.


January 9th, 2010 at 2:48 AM ^

As a Western grad who has gotten kicked out of my fair share of hockey games there, and having seen many games at Yost, I can attest that WMU's crowds are, at the very least, as rowdy as Michigan's. Western historically has poor attendance while school isn't in session, so I'll guarantee that was the main reason for the stadium being half empty. Normally, the line for the UM game runs 3 hours deep. The cheers are similar, yeah, but you can say that about 90% of college teams around, and a few NHL teams as well (looking at you, Phoenix). Go see a game while classes are in session, I bet you have a different opinion.


January 9th, 2010 at 4:03 AM ^

See, here I beg to differ. The audience count and noise level isn't what makes Yost so special. It's not hard to pack a few thousand drunks into an area half the size of Yost's (and for free, mind you) and get them to be loud and use cheers aped from UM.

What makes Yost so special is, as someone already mentioned, the dedication of the fans to the game and being an extra force, and their attention to detail of the opponents. Whether it's the pure, unadulterated organized obscenity of the C-Yah chant, the fans memorizing disturbing personal details about the opponents to shout at them in the penalty boxes or benches, or simply impromptu situational chants made up on the spot, the Yost crowd is its own force of intimidating evil.

Blue Bennie

January 9th, 2010 at 10:36 AM ^

Rowdy and "special" aren't the same thing.

Rowdy, to me, is loud and crazy...possibly alcohol fueled. Watch the movie Slapshot. Those crowds can be rowdy!

The Yost crowd is the hockey version of the Cameron Crazies. Everybody is on the same page. It is a concerted effort.

That said, I don't think that one is necessary better than the other. They're just different. I also don't think that the personal cheers effect the other teams as much as the Yost crowd thinks. I had some friends on Western's hockey team in the 90's, and they loved playing at Yost.

Caveat-I grew up in Kalamazoo, and spent a lot of time at Lawson as a kid.


January 9th, 2010 at 4:48 PM ^

Being faced with the choice, I think the overall experience at Yost is better. Not just the more people part, but more tradition, better team, and everyone that's NOT a student is much more into the game. And the draw of seeing a game at Western is (at least, this is what I've been told by non-WMU students) is to see the student section go crazy in a very tiny rink. I'm not saying Western is a better experience- it's not. But to go to a game where at least half of the most important fans are missing and judging every game at Lawson off of that...well, I think you should give them another chance.


January 9th, 2010 at 3:03 AM ^

Yeah, I heard it on the audio stream tonight, and was simply aghast.

THAT's the best you can come up with? Mimicking Michigan chant-for-chant?

As much as Lawson is touted around the CCHA, that was a subpar effort. And the hijacking of Michigan's chants is just irritating.

To the OP: Find some old Michigan highlights from the 90's on YouTube, and prove to them who really began those chants.

Beat us more than once every five years, and maybe we'll let you use them.


January 9th, 2010 at 7:36 AM ^

I have a feeling there are many schools out there claiming to be the originators of a certain chant. I wonder how often Miami, Florida, Tennessee or anyone else ridicules Michigan for the "It's great to be a Michigan Wolverine" line. I'm not going to pretend to be an authority in the area and claim to know exactly when and where every chant originated. If nothing else, take heart at this imitation for it is the sincerest form of flattery ... or unoriginality ;)

Bando Calrissian

January 9th, 2010 at 9:56 AM ^

We stole most of our hockey cheers from Cornell.


Their fans came to Yost for an NCAA tournament game in the late 80's, our fans liked what they heard, and there you go. There are several articles out there that tell the story, Google it.

As for Lawson, I've been to a game there, and it wasn't as lame as you made it sound. It's no Yost, but it's not exactly high school, either. The students being on break probably has everything to do with it.


January 11th, 2010 at 5:54 PM ^

i have been to both Yost and lynah for many games. even though the cheers are similar, Michigan fans are much livelier and irreverent toward the opposing team. thus, Michigan games were way more fun.

also, cornell jerseys looked quite a bit like the red wings' jerseys, so i could always wear detroit gear to cornell games.

Blue Bennie

January 9th, 2010 at 10:46 AM ^

" Hockey is supposed to be the biggest sport at WMU because they get to play in the same league as the big boys."

It's been one of their more successful sports, but historically it has had nothing to do with the "big boys." They have been successful because they have been able to put some decent teams on the ice.

In the late 80's and early 90's, the "big boys" in the CCHA included Bowling Green and LSSU, and did not include Michigan, OSU, and Notre Dame. In those days, the UM vs WMU games were not sell outs, but LSSU vs WMU was.


January 9th, 2010 at 11:01 AM ^

The worst experience with "copying" is Miami U. We were at the Joe 2 years ago for the CCHA title game. As our Wolverines were pummeling the Redskins (for Bo) into submission, we (the pseudo-student section up in the corner behind the band) laid the cheers on hard and thick (penis pun). A Miami fan approached me at intermission as I was on my way to get more beer and said "go get your own cheers you fags, don't steal ours." And believe me, I know the whole idea of cheering like this and half-ish of our cheers came from that Cornell NCAA series when we were all in pre-school/kindergarten -- but Miami does EVERY cheer that we do and in EXACTLY the same manner. And people only started going to their hockey games when they built that new arena 3 years ago or so (it is Ohio, after all).

Mr. Robot

January 9th, 2010 at 12:30 PM ^

That one was made at Michigan. Hearing other schools rip off our tune makes me die a little inside.

Matter of fact, isn't Miami one of the offenders? I seem to remember hearing that over the TV a couple years ago when I was watching us play at Miami (With "Let's Go Hawks" obviously).

I'm pretty sure we're the only ones that stress "Hail" in the national anthem as well, although the RPI yelled "red" really loud at the GLI.


January 9th, 2010 at 12:31 PM ^

Being a senior at WMU, not many people care about the sports teams here. This fall I attended home tailgates with friends for drinking and good times, but I didn't attend one quarter of a western football game. And most students who actually attend the game leave at halftime because their buzz has most likely worn off. Personally I don't go to the game because ive been spoiled going to UofM games since I was a kid, and going from 110k+ to 25k is kind of a disappointment, but going back to your point WMU is not the best for sports atmospheres.


January 9th, 2010 at 12:55 PM ^

I have been a Bronco Hockey fan since the days when they played at the old Kalamazoo Ice Arena - before Lawson opened. I think the fans know the game and cheer for their team appropriately.

I have been a long time Michigan fan for all sports, and now I have daughters enrolled in each school.

The Bronkey Hock-o fans have been cheering and chanting for decades and don't really need the highly-sophisticated Yost fans to show them the way.

I also live in the Kalamazoo area and Western Hockey is the only sport I pull for the Broncos to win in head to head competition.

I would love to see both teams make the CCHA finals and face one another - a reoccurring pipe dream of mine.


January 10th, 2010 at 3:02 AM ^

"The Bronkey Hock-o fans have been cheering and chanting for decades and don't really need the highly-sophisticated Yost fans to show them the way."

We'll take our wine, cheese, and gratuitous swearing elsewhere I guess.


January 9th, 2010 at 3:33 PM ^

Yeah.. anybody who thinks "sieve" is unique to Michigan is kidding themselves.

Prior to going to Michigan I hadn't heard "goalie, sieve, goalie, sieve" (or the ever-popular "goalie goalie SIEVE!"), or the handsome/ugly goalie chants, but most of the other ones can be found pretty much everywhere.

One particularly memorable game though stands out in my memory.. the 2003/04 series at home against OSU in which one of their particularly short players got branded a "Dirty Hobbit" by the student section. The chant lasted through both games, and in the end the band struck up with "Lord of the Rings," causing the crowd to go wild. Best crowd/band interaction ever. Probably one of the few times I can remember the student section coming up with new material that didn't involve the c-ya chant.


January 9th, 2010 at 11:56 PM ^

Wow I didn't know so many other people were from Kalamazoo on here. I've been to games at Lawson where the school's in session, and its nothing compared to Yost. Western's sports just aren't good

Blue Bennie

January 10th, 2010 at 10:26 AM ^

It's not comparable, but nothing really is comparable to college hockey in present day Yost. Not that Lawson is bad, though.

I've been to high school hockey games in Kalamazoo that were more charged that how Yost was in the 80's. The sense of community at Yost back then was about 50 students.

Michigan hockey fans are pretty lucky to have the program that we currently have.


January 10th, 2010 at 1:57 AM ^

I guess it's better that someone copies our excellent hockey tradition than how we copy the worst in minor league baseball and arena football atmosphere by piping in bad techno music and neil diamond.

Nothing says "tradition" likes Guns n Roses.


January 12th, 2010 at 5:09 PM ^

Don't get me started on the Notre Dame student section and pep band. I still have a bad taste in my mouth after those douches wouldn't let the Michigan pep band play at the MI/ND at the Palace a couple years ago. I understand the palace game technically was a ND home game. Therefore, it is ND's choice whether the MI pep band couple attend. But come on...