Fans are an important part of any sporting event. Whether it is the roaring sound of a student section at a basketball game or a subtle clap during a golf tournament, fans are an integral part of nearly all sporting events.
Women’s Basketball Head Coach Loree Payne said fan support can be very helpful when it comes to team success.
“Our players want to play in front of many fans and they feel a sense of responsibility to not let those fans down,” Payne said. “So, in some ways, it definitely helps elevate our level of play. Having fans at the games also gives us a home-court advantage.”
While NAU’s student sections do not exactly mirror its fellow Arizona Division I universities, at games fans will find a few crowd members that really exemplify Lumberjack spirit. Flagstaff local Danny Lawson attends nearly every NAU sporting event. He stands out among the few and shows what it really means to bleed blue and gold.
“It’s about pride,” Lawson said. “With any school you go to, you have to to be dedicated.”
Coconino County found itself buried under snow in a historically bad storm Feb. 21. Snow continued to fall in a constant downpour over Flagstaff, leaving students and residents trapped in their homes.
Despite the perilous weather conditions, NAU men’s basketball still had a game scheduled, and it appeared that the game would not be canceled. Attendance was incentivized with gift cards to Dutch Bros coffee chain, a popular beverage destination, in hopes that it would give fans more of a reason to show up.
While tempting, attendance was less than mediocre. Among the few, Lawson sat on the east bleachers cheering on his team. A snowstorm of historic proportions wasn’t enough to stop Lawson from watching a basketball game.
That game is just one of many examples of Lawson’s dedication to his team.
Lawson arrived in Flagstaff nearly two decades ago. He was originally from Lancaster, California. and born into a family of sports fans. Lawson said he followed in their footsteps and developed a love for sports early in his childhood.
“I grew up with my grandfather who was a die-hard Dodgers fan,” Lawson said. “I started following different sports throughout the years and never looked back.”
Lawson’s favorite sport is football, which he had a knack for growing up. He made the roster at Antelope Valley College where he played as a defensive end before moving to Flagstaff. Although his time on the field has expired, football is still Lawson’s first love.
“[Football] was the first sport I played and the first sport I watched when I was a kid,” Lawson said.
Lawson also enjoys basketball season because he can see two games a week considering the potential of travel.
“Especially before conference, if NAU plays over at [University of Nevada, Las Vegas], in Phoenix, Tucson or even California, I can go to those games too,” Lawson said. “Last Thanksgiving, I was able to watch the women’s basketball team play [Loyola Marymount] in Los Angeles.”
Lawson takes pride in his nearly perfect attendance record, which has attracted attention from NAU coaches who have noticed his die-hard support.
“Throughout my career, I have been blessed to know and appreciate very passionate fans,” said men’s basketball head coach Jack Murphy. “[Lawson] is on the Mount Rushmore of those dedicated and loyal fans that I have had the pleasure of interacting with.”
If Lawson is not on the sidelines of an NAU sporting event, he is often engaged in sports debates at Buffalo Wild Wings. Good-hearted sports fans are hard to come by and they rarely come with the respect and passion that Lawson has when he is on the bleachers cheering on the Lumberjacks.
“You have to show respect,” Lawson said. “You may not like the other team during the game, but after the game’s over you need to show respect to each other.”
For both the school and the community, Lawson tries to bring enthusiasm and positive energy to each game he attends. While he may not carry pom-poms or wear a Lumberjack costume, his goal is to bring just as much passion to the games as Louie does.