Index Q-and-A: 'Purple Nightmare' boosts N-Zone
While attending Niagara basketball games, fans cannot help but gaze over at the roaring N-Zone student section. While scanning the many faces, your eyes may quickly catch a student dressed as a voodoo priest.
You may ask yourself, what does a voodoo priest have anything to do with the Niagara Purple Eagles? And who is crazy enough to dress so strangely?
This crazed fan, whose new job has been to lead the team out before every home game and start the fans cheering, is NU's own Alex Schmitt. Schmitt, a sophomore, wears his top hat, cape and skeleton make-up to every home game, and plans to never miss out on any opportunity to get fans up and cheering.
Q: First off where did this idea to dress as a voodoo priest come from?
A: I loved wrestling while I was growing up and my absolute favorite wrestler was Papa Schango. I based my costume off of him, because he was so intimidating. I got the top hat, cape and face paint from a Halloween store. I was always into horror movies, too, so that played into the costume idea as well.
My friends and I have decided to name my character The Purple Nightmare.
Q: When did you first start leading the team out of the tunnel?
A: I always stand in the front row, and Brian Traugott (N-Zone's leader) noticed my costume. He asked me last year during the Canisius game. After that it just became a normal thing. I think the team's record is 7 wins, 4 losses when I carry the flag out.
Q: Have you become popular with the team and the fans?
A: I don't know if people know it's me in the costume. I think they just recognize the character. I've had people take pictures with me before and after games. Coach Mihalich and the team always get excited when I come into the tunnel to grab the flag. Coach has come and talked to me after games, too “ he always has a smile on his face and gives me a high-five.
Q: What has been the best thing about being such a huge contributor to N-Zone?
A: There is nothing like watching a live game with a group of friends. I try to keep everyone's energy up and in turn they keep me going. I've also seen myself on ESPN3 highlights and some of the games Time Warner Cable has shown. That's always exciting to know you're being seen by thousands of people.
Q: What do you think of the team after this year and for the future?
A: They're young. There's a lot of freshman and Anthony Nelson is going to be missed. But I know that they'll improve. I'll be at every home game to watch them and cheer them on no matter what.