Old school Augustana sports fan gets Augieholic support

thomas elness

tkelness12@ole.augie.edu

Looking around at Augustana sporting events, there are usually some familiar faces in the crowd.  One of those encouraging fans is Paul Zeig, an Augieholic.

He has a problem. A major problem. A love for Augustana athletics.

Zeig and his girlfriend Sonia Sherman make an attempt to attend as many games as possible during the year to cheer on the Vikings.

A name alone might not help identify Zeig, but his dance moves will. At Tuesday night’s volleyball game against University of Mary, Zeig joined the Augustana student section dancing along to the latest hip-hop music.

Sitting across from the students, the two parties coaxed each other on until the phrase “Paul, Paul, Paul” pierced through the Elmen Center gymnasium.

Zeig, a dedicated fan since 1983, enjoys coming to almost all of the Augustana sporting events throughout the year with one exception. “Wrestling. I don’t understand it,” Zeig said.

His favorite sports are basketball and football.

Originally an “Augie Doggie” fan, Zeig has seen quality teams put on the blue and gold over the course of 29 years of rooting for Augustana.

To be exact, 149 teams have made NCAA postseason appearances in the years of Zeig’s loyal support.

Whether it’s dancing to the “Cupid Shuffle” or singing along to a Neil Diamond fan favorite, Zeig is an Augieholic.

“Paul, before the game, was singing ‘Sweet Caroline’ with us,” Augieholic Gentry Pletts said after last week’s volleyball match against University of Mary.

“He did some pretty good cheers, so we decided we needed to target him in the crowd,” Pletts said.

And target him they did, sending two Augieholics across the gym to honor Zeig with an official Augieholics T-shirt.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Zeig said after the Augieholics membership was bestowed unto him. “It was shocking.”

Augieholics identify themselves as Augie-crazed fans that relish in the fact that they are addicts to Viking athletics.

The group was formed in 2004 and continues to be a strong crew of enthusiasts today.

“We were trying to get some community outreach,” Augieholics secretary Kelly Wong said.

“Paul is a great fan and we wanted to honor him with a shirt.”

Over the years, Zeig has seen many changes at Augustana.

For example, he remembers when Augustana athletics used to be played at the Sioux Falls Arena before the opening of the Elmen Center in 1989.

Many other complexes have been instituted since Zeig started cheering on Augie athletics: Bowden Field for softball (1991); Ronken Field for baseball (1993); Hall Football Complex and Sanford Gymnasium (2006); Kirkeby-Over Stadium (2009); Morstad Field (2009); and the Huether Tennis Centre (2009).

Augustana athletics have been through ups and downs, but at 55 years old, Zeig keeps up with the college student and fans.

The energy of Augustana fans, especially Augieholics, not only uplifts the players but also energizes Zeig.

“The students keep me young,” Zeig said.

Zeig’s cheering methods proved supportive as Augustana volleyball defeated University of Mary in three sets (25-11, 25-8, 25-12).

During the match, three Vikings hit career-bests in attack percentages.

Holly Hafemeyer hit well at .688 attack percentage with 11 kills on 16 attempts and no errors.

Taylor Hrdlichka also had a .538 attack percentage with seven kills on 13 attacks for an error-free match.  And Jordan Spatenka also finished with a career-high attack percentage of .571 with 13 kills and one error.

Next time you’re at an Augustana sporting event, look for Zeig, the proud new Augieholic.

He will most likely wearing his new official Augieholics shirt.