Sunday, December 28, 2014

Rich Florida Gulf Coast booster buys hotel rooms for fans, so they sing 'Happy Birthday' to his relative

During Florida Gulf Coasts' eventful first half against San Diego State, between the melodies of "Voulez-vous coucher avec moi" and "Peanut Butter Jelly Time" came the familiar sound of "Happy Birthday" from the student section.

Rich Florida Gulf Coast booster buys hotel rooms for fans, so they sing 'Happy Birthday' to his relative

During Florida Gulf Coasts' eventful first half against San Diego State, between the melodies of "Voulez-vous coucher avec moi" and "Peanut Butter Jelly Time" came the familiar sound of "Happy Birthday" from the student section.

Some very fortunate person apparently had their birthday fall on the same day that FGCU's Eric McKnight ripped the universe apart, and that person happened to be, the recently eight-year-old relative of an FGCU school booster.

"They paid for a bus for kids from Fort Myers to come up," Kyle, an FGCU alum, said of the booster, "and then since we won, we had to stay over. So they bought everybody hotel rooms."

Wishing his relative a happy birthday was the least the fans could do, but the new life of Friday night's upset over No. 2 Georgetown had to be a gift in and of itself.

Fans like Kyle have been piling into Philly since Friday - living and working in Maryland, he joined the fan section as it made its way over 1,000 miles north of campus.

"Some kids took a bus, other kids I know went on Facebook and said - 'Hey, we won round one. We're starting the trip now." He gestured to the bouncing, raucous fan section behind him. "These guys hit me up, they were like, 'we're coming through Maryland,' and I was like, 'stop by.'"

Not only are underdog FGCU's students populating Philadelphia-area hotels for the weekend, but places Kyle's serve as perfect rally points for Eagles, current and former. His own apartment is full of fans enjoying their extended stay.

"I've got two buddies so far," he says. "But who knows how many after tonight."

Several enthusiastic heads smeared with Eagle-blue paint nod in agreement nearby. Life is short in the throes of March Madness, but this busload of Eagles is going to enjoy it as long as they can, as far from home as it takes them.

"1,170 miles of dunk city," Kyle says with a grin.

Justin Klugh Sports Producer
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