Jordan DeLoatch is easy to spot.
If you’re at a women’s basketball game or even watching on television, just look toward the front of the student section. You’ll see him standing in the middle of the first row wearing a blue Duke hoodie and blue or black Blue Devil sweatpants.
He yells with his hands cupped around his mouth when Duke is on defense. He waves his arms from side to side to the rhythm of the music as the band plays. Sometimes when home crowds are small, he’ll be alone. But that doesn’t stop him from chanting for the Blue Devils all game long.
Two years after graduating from the University, DeLoatch’s passion for Duke women’s basketball has not wavered. He attends almost every home game each season, and can tell you everything there is to know about the program. He’s even struck up an unusually close relationship with the team.
DeLoatch, Trinity ’15, says his enthusiasm might be excessive. Although his parents are alumni of Duke’s Fuqua School of Business and his sister is a freshman undergraduate, they don’t share his passion for head coach Joanne P. McCallie’s squad—and neither do most other Duke students.
But when he talks about his experiences watching the team, he smiles out of pride that he’s such a dedicated fan.
“I take it to a level my family doesn’t,” DeLoatch says. “I like to think that I’m as much into the Cameron Craziness as anybody.”
DeLoach has been a Blue Devil sports fan since his early childhood. As a native of Cary, N.C., who grew up less than 30 minutes from Durham, he frequently attended football and volleyball games with his family. Although he also went to a few men’s basketball games, it was usually difficult to find tickets to the men’s contests. Women’s games were not of interest to the family.
His interest in McCallie’s squad began once he enrolled at Duke. DeLoatch followed several different Blue Devil teams as a freshman and sophomore. He joined The Inferno—Duke Athletics’ student club—and went to soccer, volleyball, field hockey and of course men’s basketball games. But it was women’s basketball that ultimately attracted him most.
McCallie had some of her most consistent teams at Duke during his freshman and sophomore years. The Blue Devils reached the Elite Eight in 2012 and 2013 and were ranked in the top 10 throughout both seasons.
DeLoatch never expected he’d become a women’s basketball fanatic. But as he went to more games, he enjoyed watching stars like Elizabeth Williams, Chelsea Gray and Tricia Liston run the court and dominate opponents.
“They were all fantastic,” he says. “It was just a lot of great basketball to watch. And I kind of realized, ‘What if we could have the atmosphere from men’s games at women’s games too?’”
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DeLoatch committed himself to the team the rest of his time in school. He didn’t miss a game as a junior or senior and still attends most games when he doesn’t have work. His goal of creating a livelier environment in the student section, though—that hasn’t panned out.
At many games, he is the only person in the front row. Sometimes he’s the lone fan chanting and must rely on the band and the cheerleaders to join him.
“It’s kind of awkward at the start and I kind of have to get into the game and forget that it’s awkward,” he says. “There were some games when I was literally the only student there.”
This isn’t to say that DeLoatch—who now works as a campaign finance assistant, according to his LinkedIn account—only dedicates his fandom to women’s basketball. He also black tented all four years for the North Carolina game as a student, went to every men’s game his final two years and went to most football games. He would still go to men’s games if he could find the tickets.
But he feels a special bond to the women’s players—like he matters to them and, by himself, adds to their home-court advantage. And the team feels the same.
“He’s just the best,” junior Erin Mathias says. “He means so much to us.”
All the players know him and have welcomed him to two team banquets. Senior Kendall Cooper high-fives him after every game and former guard Ka’lia Johnson personally found him tickets to one of those banquets.
Junior Lexie Brown has especially become accustomed to seeing DeLoatch. As a transfer from Maryland, Brown sat out last season and had a clear view of DeLoatch at each game he attended.
“Last year, I was like, ‘Who is this kid who is at every game leading the cheers?’” Brown says. “It’s even more special this year now that I’m on the floor. He gives us so much energy…. We just look over at him, he’s going crazy and that’s been awesome.”
DeLoatch frequently participates in halftime on-court festivities and contests. But those events pale in comparison to his experience at Countdown to Craziness four years ago.
During the women squad’s introduction at the men’s team’s annual showcase, then-forward Haley Peters surprised him by suddenly asking him to come out of the student section and introducing him to the crowd. She didn’t know his name at the time, but announced that he went to almost every game and urged fans to follow his lead.
“I don’t remember her words. Its kind of a blur,” he says. “It’s actually my Facebook cover photo, and it has been for three years now…. It’s a testament to how the team makes me feel really welcome there.”
McCallie hasn’t met DeLoatch, but shares her players’ gratitude for his support. She’s aware of his connection to the team and wants to do even more to thank him.
“The smiles that he brings to my players—everybody loves him,” McCallie says. “I’d do anything for Jordan. I’d write a recommendation for Jordan.”