Hell in the Hall – Louisville Sports Blog

Dedicated to the joyful noise of the Card faithful

Interview: The Cheerleader aka Rob Hickerson

Posted by frankpos on January 13, 2010

(Editor’s note:  What suddenly  compels a mortgage broker –with no cheer leading  background–to invent the C-A-R-D-S cheer– and then try to lead 20,000 screaming fans?

I did this interview in March, 2008.  This year, I note Rob is  already warming up, and  led some massive  CARDS cheers at the Villanova White-Out from his seat near my section 336…)

********************************************

“The first time I did the CARDS cheer,

I had to spell the it out real slowly.

Nobody knew what the heck I was doing.”

Rob Hickerson, business owner, stadium cheerleader, and Card fan since 1969.

******************************************

The Cheerleader is every bit the fast talking dynamo you’d expect from a person who leads 20,000 people by leaping to his feet and stomping , coat-waving, pointing–anything–to get the crowd’s attention, build it to a crescendo and, finally burst it by spelling out CARDS with his body to thunderous chants.

Often he “works” with Sedat, the Handstand Guy, who serves as a killer warm-up act for Rob’s CARDS cheer. And Rob’s nine year old son, Dominic, does the stomp and cheer right next to Dad.

This man knows how to lead a cheer. No, that’s too mild a word. The cheerleaders on the floor lead a cheer. Rob…he conducts the crowd, feels it along, helps it build, and at just the right time, goes for the killer cheer.

This 56 year old guy kinda puts the cheerleaders on the floor to shame, in this regard.

He is a maestro at this, as perhaps he should be since he has been doing this for…28 years.

rob-hickerson-the-cheerleader-002_edited.jpg

Rob runs his own mortgage brokerage firm, and I interviewed him by phone, and then had the pleasure of meeting him and his son before the Villanova game. His staccato speech is punctuated every few sentences with a short infectious laugh.

Frank: I understand we share a mutual background and a mutual friend, Greg_____.

Rob: Ah, yes, the Big E. (I smile at this mention of the childhood nickname known by Greg’s close friends.) He and I were in the same class at St. X. Then he and I went to U of L in ’69 together too.

Like you Frank, I grew up in Louisville with Rupp’s Runts and was both a U of L and UK fan back then. Really, quite honestly, it was the race thing with UK in the 60’s that made me want to go more and more toward U of L.

When I went to U of L in 1969, then that was when I really went totally with the Cards.

In fact my senior year when I worked at the old European Health Spa, Dana Kirk used to come in. He was the assistant to Denny Crum back then, you know. Anyway, he comped me tickets all year long.

Images of those plaid jackets of his…bright green and yellow…still pop in my mind! (Infectious laugh)

Frank: Our section calls you The Cheerleader. Others call you the Coat Waver. When did you first start doing the CARDS cheer– and why?

Rob: Actually, it was the first championship year, 1980. We were supposed to be good that year. It was the first game of the season. It was a close game with like 6 to 7 minutes left. And the crowd was dead.

I decided to do something. If you remember back then, UK’s fans were known for loudly supporting their team.

I got up on my chair and started yelling and trying to get the crowd going. And they did get going some. And the Cards went on a run from there to win the game.

After the game, my ex-wife and I, and some friends were at the old Kunz’s the Dutchman. And we were all excited and thinking about what I could do to get the crowd into it even more.

At the same time, if you remember, that trunk driver got up on the Baltimore Orioles dug out and spelled out ORIOLES with his body, and they won the World Series.

So, I decided to spell out CARDS.

The next game I tried it. But, Frank, back then I had to make the letters a lot more carefully. The first time I did the CARDS cheer, I had to spell it out real slow. Nobody knew what the heck I was doing. (Infectious laugh.)

Frank: Had you ever been a cheerleader–or done anything like this before?

Rob: No! Never. I guess the closest was like you probably experienced at Trinity. At St. X, I remember being in awe as a freshman of the large packed gym and the loud cheering. And you know how it was at all the football games too. Crazy.

Frank: I noticed that the Handstand Guy, Sedat, sometimes helps with the cheer. When did that start?

sedat-2_edited.jpg

Rob: It was early on, in ’81 or ’82. He was one of the first to come help me. If you remember then, you could walk all the way around Freedom Hall. He and I would do that.

We’d just wander around, yell and wave–try to make eye contact, point our finger. Get one person in that section clapping– the others will follow, you know.

You could work up a hell of a sweat! (Infectious laugh.)

After a while, I asked Sedat what he could do that would help get the crowd going. When he showed me the handstand, it blew my mind. I said, “Let’s do it!” Of course, it drives the crowd wild!

Frank: Do you have any special game memories from all these years?

Rob: Well, the championship game in 1980 was the best, the most memorable.

But I’ll tell you another one. Remember that Tennessee game a few years ago, when we came back from like 9 points down and hit all those 3 pointers in the last couple of minutes to win?

Well, this older couple from Tennessee was seated right down from me, and was razzing me the whole game long in a nice way. Since we were losing I had to take it most of the game.

But, when we won on that last second 3, I jumped out of my seat, and got down on my knees in front of them, spread my arms and said ” Well, how do you like me now?” And they just laughed. (Infectious laugh.)

(And I, of course, laughed too.)

*******************************************

What primal impulses drive the passion in each of us to follow the pack, the tribe…the team.

Whatever it is, Rob Hickerson has it in spades for the Cards.

He brings down the thunder of the Card faithful, and makes the old Hall shake with mad-dog ferocity in tight games. He sends in the Cards’ most valuable Sixth Man.

By personal example, Rob teaches and shows this incredible passion to his son–and to all Card fans.

Rob says he tries to find one fan– just one fan–at a time to get fired up.

Can you help Rob find and excite that one fan –within you? Whether you’re in the heat of the Hall, or even if you’ve got your big potato parked on your own couch.

Whether the Cards are 20 points ahead… or particularly when the team is way down.

Will you jump up on your (figurative) chair… and yell like Hell?

If you can do that, you’ve learned the  greatest lesson Rob has for any fan.

Advertisements

3 Responses to “Interview: The Cheerleader aka Rob Hickerson”

  1. rick said

    I went to high school with Rob and Greg. I remember Rob as an enthusiastic kinda guy – he wasn’t a cheerleader in high school but he was outgoing and upbeat. In retrospect, a natural for the cheerleader role he adopted at Freedom Hall.

    But I swear I remember reading this piece weeks ago. HOw could it just have been posted today??

  2. bigbbcardfan said

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your interviews about the cheerleader and the handstand guy before him. These truly are super fans and bring out the cheerleader in all of us card fans. GO CARDS!

  3. quiet cardinal said

    Great interview, Frank. I got to know Mr. Hickerson while working at the Cardinal Club (where he is a member) for several summers in college, and you are absolutely right… his passion for the Cards is overwhelming, and he is an extremely nice guy, to boot. Pretty good golfer, as well, if memory serves me correctly. Thanks for these interviews! Great work.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: