By Joey Yashinksy
Your alma mater is set to take the court in six hours. Sure, you have tickets, but for the most ardent of college sports fans, simply being there just isn’t enough. You need a little something extra.
That was exactly the situation Northern Kentucky alums Chris Cole and Chris Boggs found themselves in while attending Motor City Madness in Detroit. Their cherished Norse men’s basketball team had just advanced to the Horizon League tournament semi-finals when they looked up and saw a sign from above.
Or something like that.
“We were just walking up the block and happened to see this ‘Fathead’ logo on the side of a building,” Cole explained. “I thought it was a store to be honest. We thought we would just go in and grab some Fatheads of the Northern Kentucky starting five.”
But the outer sign was a bit misleading. They had instead happened upon the company’s corporate headquarters, not some warehouse of Fathead’s famously giant team decals. Their hopes of grabbing some team merchandise in time for that night’s game was looking like fairly dim. But they decided to press on.
“We asked the security guard if we could go up and at least see if they could get these Fatheads done,” Cole said. “He said, ‘You can try.’ So their Director of Business Development comes down and takes us upstairs for a tour. He introduces us to the President of the company. It was really cool.”
But even with this first-class treatment, the verdict was still out as to whether these prized Fatheads could somehow be produced and delivered in a matter of a few hours.
“Ten or fifteen minutes later, they came back to us and said, ‘We can get this done. We can get them done for tonight’s game. But we have to move quickly!’”
Keep in mind that Cole and Boggs’ request was not a normal one. Fathead devotees know that if they want their super-sized logos in time for a specific event, it’s prudent to make such an order with plenty of time to spare; unless you happen to be the owner of the company.
Or, as it turns out, die-hard fans of the Northern Kentucky Norse.
“They told us it was the first time that someone walked in off the street and asked, ‘Can you make us some Fatheads?’ They said they’ve received calls before from Dan Gilbert (Fathead is part of Quicken Loans’ family) where he needed something the day of, but nothing ever like this.”
But the question still remained: how were these Fatheads going to make it to Joe Louis Arena in time for tip-off? After all, the manufacturing hub is more than an hour away from Detroit. Cole detailed the wild ride for these prized Norse cutouts.
“They actually hired an Uber driver to get them down to Detroit. So the Fatheads were delivered to the headquarters. Then the executives of the company drove them over to the arena and literally brought them right to the row we were sitting in. Their people were really amazing.”
All told, when you combine the karma from the Fatheads (representing the entire Norse starting lineup) with the on-court brilliance from tournament MVP Lavone Holland II, Northern Kentucky was able to blitz their way through the entire Horizon League bracket.
Five lucky NKU fans were given the responsibility of waving the Fatheads proudly during the title game.
“The parents got to hold them during the semi-final, but for the championship, they’re with us in the student section tonight,” said Katherine Hahnel, a Northern Kentucky senior on hand for every game of the tournament. “The Fatheads show the players that we are cheering them on. You scream their name, throw their face in the air; it lets them know we’ve got their back.”
It’s a college hoops Cinderella story with the ultimate fairy tale ending.
Three games, three victories, an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament (the school’s first ever), a couple of very generous alumni, and finally, one determined company that brought the ultimate fan experience to Joe Louis Arena in the nick of time.