McCamish Maniacs raise hype for basketball

Photo by John Nakano

A packed stadium, with chants ringing from floor to ceiling. A thousand students crammed into bleachers, each one hyped up, cheering for their team—the Yellow Jackets.

This is the scene the McCamish Maniacs hope to create at this season’s basketball games.

The McCamish Maniacs are a relatively new organization at Tech. Their humble beginnings started last January, when three then-freshmen and good friends,  Patrick Sisbarro, Matthew Segars and Jonathan Tierney, watched Tech beat Wake Forest from their seats in McCamish’s student section. As happy as the students were to see a blowout game in Tech’s favor, they could not help but be disappointed in the student section itself.

According to Tierney, a now second-year ISyE major, they were taken aback by the lack of student participation and by a lack of “raucous” student participation. Students were not loudly or passionately cheering on their team.  From that moment on, the three students were dedicated to improving the McCamish student section.

That night, they brainstormed new names for the student section, finally deciding on the “McCamish Maniacs.”

The McCamish Maniacs have big dreams for the student section. While they  eventually hope the McCamish Maniacs will be able to compete with Duke’s infamous “Cameron Crazies,” for now, their main goal is filling the stadium with Tech students.

“We need to make it so you have to be there when the doors open to get a seat. We want to make them consider opening up more seats for students because so many students attend,” Tierney said.

The McCamish Maniacs realize that filling up the student section may not be an easy task. Unlike a football game, which is once a week, there are often multiple basketball games in a week, which can make it difficult for students to attend them all.

They also realize that attendance rests heavily on how well the Tech basketball team is performing. Nonetheless, the McCamish Maniacs believe that filling up a student section of roughly 900 seats is a very achievable goal.

“We’re in the best conference in the nation. People should want to come out and see great basketball,” Tierney said.

While the McCamish Maniacs are nowhere near content with the student section, they have already seen improvements.

“I think the student section became a little bit more organized last year…. We helped welcome back the team after our big upset win over Miami last year. There might have been only been about 15 of us, but still, we are trying to get the word out,” Tierney said.

Segars, also a second-year ISyE student and  founding member of the McCamish Maniacs, hopes to replicate his high-school basketball experience, where his entire school would cheer on their basketball team all the way to winning the State championship. He sees the McCamish Maniacs as a perfect way to unite students and make Tech seem a bit smaller.

“It was a great experience that I had [in high school and] I want to replicate something like that into my college experience and be able to be excited when I go to games and cheer on the team,” Segars said. “We go to such a big school, anything that can unite us and make the school seem smaller while making a few friends. We want to support our fellow students and have a little bit of fun on the way.”

Unlike the SWARM student section for football games, the McCamish Maniacs are not connected with Tech administration. They want to remain a student-led, price-free organization.

However, the group is working closely with GT Athletics to make their dreams for the student section possible. Recently, they have been working together on everything from giveaways for students at the game to pep rallies to what music to play.

Despite all the work they are putting into improving the student section, the three founding members have still managed to stay the epitome of good friends, from riding around campus on their Razor scooters to guffawing over their own inside jokes. To them, the student section is more than a few designated seats to watch the game from—it is a place to find students like them, who are passionate about not just basketball, but about cheering on Tech athletes.

“It’s not about money or time. It’s about being dedicated to the school—we really care about that. We  want students who want to be at the game. We want to fill up the arena and be loud and cheer on our fellow students,” Tierney said.