Eight tubes of body paint per game: $12. Four years’ worth of glitter: $20. Specially-made green and gold towels: Ask Grandma.
Making a difference at your university: priceless.
For “the Green-and-Gold Guys” — USF seniors Walter Price and Brian Hope — attending every home football and basketball game for the last four years hasn’t been easy. But it’s been fun.
“That’s why we do it,” Price said. “We’re not looking for fame or anything. We just like getting involved, instead of just sitting there.”
The fans who come to support the Bulls at Raymond James Stadium or the Sun Dome are used to seeing the towel guys run up and down the aisles during games. After four years, it’s hard to miss them.
But come May, two new students will don the Bull-colored bath towels. Price and Hope said they want to pass on the tradition of promoting school spirit.
“It wasn’t expected to be like this at all,” Hope said. “We really just did it the first time for fun. It was crazy, because we were both hyper and nuts as freshmen. Then it kind of turned into a tradition.”
It all started in the fall of 1999 when Price attended an FSU game with his parents. It was then that he saw two guys dressed in paint — and not much else — cheering on the Seminoles. A lightbulb went off in the USF freshman’s head to borrow that idea. After getting a blessing from “the garnet-and-gold guys,” he was a man on a mission.
“It was my idea,” Price said. “I ran into Brian and said I was thinking about doing it. I wanted to find someone as crazy as I am.”
One would have to be crazy to put up with the routine these guys endure.
“We take face-painting cream and put it all over our bodies,” Hope explained. “Four yellow, four green. But lately, we’ve got it down to two yellow and two green. We’ve been getting good at it.
“The paint sometimes gets on our towels, but it washes off. Numerous times, some people have actually gone home with our marks on them. But don’t worry, it will come off in the wash, no problem. … We don’t wash before we go home; we put a big plastic sheet over the seats of our car.”
But it’s all in the name of school spirit.
“Our main goal is to promote more people to show up to games,” Hope said. “It seems that ever since we got here, more and more people are getting painted up, more people coming out to the games and showing a lot more support.”
The Green-and-Gold Guys have even inspired others to paint up for games.
There is a new faction of uber-fans led by junior Ryan Capahi of the hula-skirt gang. Capahi, Brandon Faza and Alex Vazquez want to show their school spirit, too.
“We’re really happy that someone has paved the way for others not be embarrassed about being fans,” Capahi said. “We’re trying to start a new tradition. We want to make USF fans as rowdy as possible, and they’ve created a stepping stone for that.
“We need to start somewhere. We’re trying to become the starting point for USF tradition. They wear towels; we wear the horns and the hula skirts. Both of us wear body paint, but we try to have our own theme.”
However, there is no rivalry between the two groups. Both sides say they work together for the common goal of promoting spirit.
And that is something that has been lacking at USF, men’s basketball center Will McDonald said.
“They bring a lot of excitement,” McDonald, a senior, said. “I look forward to seeing them because I like to hear them chant my name. … They get us going.”
His teammate, junior shooting guard Jimmy Baxter, agrees. Baxter said if there were more fans like the towel guys, USF would be a better place.
“They bleed green and gold,” Baxter said. “You can always count on them. There could be a blizzard out there, and they’d be there.”
Baxter, who has one year left with the team after this season, said he will miss Price and Hope.
“It’s hard to take the place of people who are at every game,” he said. “They’re quick to run up to you during school hours and say, ‘Good luck.’ It opens your eyes and makes you feel good knowing they’re willing to support you on and off the court.”
Other fans have noticed a difference, as well. Seth Goldberg — not to be confused with men’s basketball coach Seth
Greenberg–said the towel-toting duo certainly stands out in a crowd.
“They lead the cheers and get the chants going,” said Goldberg, a medical student in his eighth year at USF and a member of Greenbergopolis.
Greenbergopolis consists of a group of students who camp out on the side of the Sun Dome to help support the basketball teams.
“That’s stuff we didn’t have before. When I would stand up, people would tell me, ‘Sit down, you idiot.’ But these guys are dressed for the part. When they react, others want to react, too,” Price said.
And getting people involved is all they ever wanted to do, Price said.
While Price is also happy about the recent success of the football team, he said that’s not why he’s there.
“We still would have done it if they went 0-9,” he said. “Good team or bad team, you’ve always got to be a fan.”
That will hold true even after they leave the halls of USF. In the meantime, there are still some mysteries about the Green-and-Gold Guys. For example, they won’t be announcing their replacements for another month or so.
Also, the debate rages on about whether everything under their towels is painted. They’ll “leave that up to the imagination.”
Every year they’ve made new changes to the outfit. Last year, Price’s grandmother stitched “USF” into the towels, and they now have drawstrings.
However, the biggest change of all will come next year when they will sit in the stands and watch their successors bask in the glory of the USF spirit they helped build.
“Brian and I were the first guys. It’s never going to be the same.” Price said. “That’s life. Things don’t end, they just start over.”
Contact Will Albritton at email@example.com