March 17, 2007 in City

Ducks find a home away from home

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Brian Plonka photo

Oregon faithful watch the final seconds of their team’s victory over Miami of Ohio.
(Full-size photo)

At times Friday it was a little unclear whether the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena was actually in Washington or if it had somehow been transported to Eugene, Ore.

Flocks of Duck fans overran the venue, dominating the seats, the concourse and T-shirt sales at merchandise booths.

“There’s enough Ducks fans here that maybe we can turn it into a home game,” said University of Oregon alumnus John Joyce, who traveled from Eugene for the game.

“We figured we’d dominate,” said Max Shepanek, an Oregon senior.

Gloria Mittleton, a recent Spokane transplant, was so excited about the game that she was going to try to talk her way into playing with the Oregon pep band. She played clarinet in it when she attended the school.

She practices from time to time by harassing Washington State University fans with Oregon’s fight song.

Mittleton said the only thing better for Oregon than playing at Spokane Arena would have been if the Ducks had been playing in Eugene at “Mac Court.”

It’s not that fans from other schools didn’t turn out.

They just weren’t obvious and outrageous in the same way.

No loud Winthrop Eagle screams echoing through the Arena. Just the loud quacking of duck calls.

Notre Dame fans looked respectable in their monogrammed university attire, while Oregon supporters were as likely to be wearing a cape, wig or loud knee socks as an official school sweat shirt.

Even a small Cougars fan, about 4 years old, stopped to stare at a group of Ducks decked out like superheroes. His dad decided to let it slide, not schooling him that Cougars and Ducks aren’t supposed to mix.

It wasn’t all Ducks, though. Some fans from other schools also showed a zany side.

Susan Anfin, who flew into Spokane on a charter plane full of Winthrop players and boosters, sported a paper eagle-head hat and Mardi Gras beads for the game her team won, upsetting Notre Dame.

Anfin said it must be the existence of a Winthrop, Wash., that was bringing her Rock Hill, S.C.-based team luck — two Winthrops on opposite sides of the country.

Maybe it was the hat.

Fan numbers didn’t matter for Winthrop. For Oregon fans, however, their overwhelming numbers boosted optimism.

Lindsay Johnston, a recent grad, arrived at the Arena an hour before the game.

“I’m walking around seeing all these people I recognize,” she said. “I was really excited and glad it was close to home.”


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