BOSTON — With just under nine minutes left in Boston University’s spirited 4-2 victory over hated arch-rival Boston College, the superfan known as Sasquatch is getting restless. The whistle blows, and he jumps up, gesturing to the BU band across Walter Brown Arena. They miss the cue and break into “Louie, Louie”; Sasquatch whips off his hat with an agitated gesture befitting his nocturnal namesake.
“Don’t worry, you’ll get your chance,” says a fellow season-ticket holder behind him.
Indeed, The Chance comes within the minute. The band breaks into the heavy-metal horns of his theme song, “Iron Man,” and Sasquatch leaps to his feet, shedding his hat and t-shirt in one motion, revealing a hefty build and a torso so much like a pelt that he could be the President of the Body Hair Club for Men.
Sasquatch runs down the steps toward the ice, waving his shirt over his head with an index finger in the air. He points at BC netminder Scott Clemmensen, then begins a chant of “1949! 1949!” in a sarcastic reference to the Eagles’ last national championship. By the time he returns to his seat, the BU faithful have begun their usual variation on the “Goalie! Sieve!” chant, shouting “Sasquatch! Sieve!” as they alternate between pointing at the rabid superfan and the opposing goalie.
Think of it this way: Detroit Red Wing fans throw an octopus on the ice after their team scores their first goal of a game. At UNH, a large fish serves the same purpose. Cornell fans shout the word “Red!” during the national anthem. And Sasquatch strips to the waist with eight to 12 minutes left in most BU games, revving up the crowd while a percentage of women in attendance avert their eyes at the sight.
But who is the man behind the dubious nickname? As he is reluctant to give out his last name due to the potential wrath of BC fans, let’s just call him Brian. What compels him to perform this hair-raising spectacle dozens of times over the last six seasons?
“I have a great affection and love for this university, and I’m very involved in the alumni community,” Brian says. “One of the things that I try to build in the current student population is spirit, and through Sasquatch I think I build school spirit.”
A 1994 alumnus of BU, Brian double-majored in chemistry and Middle Eastern Studies, perhaps giving him an educated perspective on both spirit and the warring fan factions pulling for Commonwealth Ave. neighbors BU and BC.
“It started actually at BC,” Brian says. “We were there in the ’92-’93 season and there were some, shall we say, obnoxious BC fans. They were ahead like 2-1 maybe and they were dancing in front of me and pelvic-hipping, you know, thrusting. We scored a tying goal, then a goal to go ahead, and I just took off my shirt. I was with four of my friends and they thought it was fun and it kind of took off from there.”
A huge fan of rock band Van Halen, he sometimes has played air guitar to his theme song. He has worn a Miss Beanpot sash over his fuzzy belly and sported an oversize Cat-in-the-Hat red and white hat. However, he downplays the props these days, suggesting that we are now seeing a more restrained and mature Sasquatch.
Over five years since starting the routine, Sasquatch is a college-hockey fixture. Which is all well and good at the rink, but imagine the dilemmas of your everyday life, trying to convince people who cross your path that you are not, well, a wild, hairy party animal.
“I’ll be trying to meet some women at a bar, and I’ll have to say ‘I’m really not that person who goes wild at the hockey games,’” Brian says. “I’m not like that all the time. I’m a person who’s trying to build a professional career; I would like to settle down.”
In real life, Sasquatch actually roams the halls of an undisclosed financial services company, working in the call center. So perhaps that person who has been giving you sensible advice on your mutual funds could be the same guy who can whip off his shirt faster than you can say “Sell!”
“With work, they found out about it after the first round of the Beanpot in 1998,” Brian says. My picture was almost a full page in the Herald, and I was late that morning, you know, after a 9:00 p.m. BU hockey game and, they were right there at my desk saying ‘Did you see yourself in the paper?’”
Sasquatch has enjoyed some memorable moments over the years. Before baring his chest at a BU-Maine game, he asked Maine fans if they wanted to see a real black bear. He once wore a Miss Maine sash across his naked torso. The real Miss Maine happened to be in attendance.
“We had some words after my performance,” Brian says, wistfully.
One of the stranger moments this season was during BU’s 9-1 rout of Princeton, when three prepubescent boys whipped off their shirts in a hairless tribute to the superfan. “It’s been fun with the kids,” Brian says, noting that BU president Jon Westling’s sons “enjoy the ritual.”
Perhaps a bit touchy over the Terriers’ 1-5-1 record going into last weekend’s BC series, Sasquatch had a regrettable run-in with a BC fan at the Conte Forum on Friday night. After being spotted by a BC fan who had lambasted him during last year’s Frozen Four, “I did lunge after him with my hand to grab his shirt. I want to apologize to him for doing that if he’s gonna be reading this out there….I think any spirit for any school is great, but let’s try and keep it friendly.”
Sasquatch has no need to apologize to the BU players and coaches, however. To them, he is a crowd catalyst.
“We definitely respect him,” BU forward Chris Heron says. “He’s a huge part of BU hockey, a character. It’s a big tradition. I think it also distracts the other team initially: ‘Who the hell is this guy up in the stands?’”
“He’s into the games, I’ll tell you that much,” BU captain Albie O’Connell says. “He gets the fans going, and I think it’s good for us. Some people may call him nuts, but I think it’s kind of comical.”
Speaking of nuts, Sasquatch sits in aptly-named Section Eight, where the Walter Brown Arena fans are at their craziest. This rowdy student-and-alumni section definitely gives the Terriers a home-ice advantage, and Sasquatch is perhaps more ringleader than animal.
“I know he gets the crowd all jacked up,” BU coach Jack Parker says. “He’s a big part of Walter Brown Arena lore, that’s for sure. Our success is based on emotion, and he gets the crowd going, which gets our team going. It’s like having a huge cheerleader out there.”
Sure, Coach. Though if Sasquatch is your idea of the ultimate cheerleader, one can only imagine your vision of a homecoming queen.