‘The Grid’, an Energy FC football support group, helps the community

0


DJ Jenks, known as “The Energy Kilt Guy,” walks the north end of Taft Stadium with everyone already knowing who he is.

He is probably Energy FC’s biggest football fan. Jenks, who retired as an army sergeant, walks around in a black kilt shouting chants, telling fans to stand up. He knows almost everyone by first name and is responsible for bringing many new faces to every home game. Jenks will even approach strangers and tell them to get up.

“I don’t care if I know them or not. They’re family, ”Jenks said ahead of Saturday’s 1-1 draw against the Indy Eleven. “If they’re here and they’re in this section, they’re one of us.”

Jenks is one of the many loyalists of Energy FC, known as “The Grid”, who attends almost every game, at home and abroad. Every Energy FC home game has an energetic crowd of fans screaming and singing and banging drums that make noise for the 90 minutes of the match.

And if you plan to sit behind the north goal during games, you’re supposed to live up to that excitement.

Fans have made a name for themselves as one of the loudest fan groups in American football. This is the same fan base their own team told them to calm down when it came to heavy cheering in 2015. But the noise is only a small aspect of what it really is. the fan base: a family atmosphere that supports each other.

After the match, Energy FC players and coaches meet the supporters behind the north goal. Goalkeeper coach Alexis Vizarelis makes sure to shake hands, hug and hear what fans have to say before speaking to his goalkeepers after the game.

Energy FC fan RJ Williams stands in the north end area of ​​Taft Stadium and cheers on Oklahoma City in Saturday night's game against Indy Eleven.  The storm-cut competition ended in a 1-1 draw.

“We know a lot of them by first name,” Vizarelis said. “I think it’s very unique for a group of supporters, where you really know the individual. And I’m proud to be someone they feel comfortable with – right at the end of the day – to hug and hug me, or talk to me personally and discuss something that they can think of. frustrate or get them excited. And they feel comfortable enough to come and see me and say, “Alexis, what do you think? You don’t see that anywhere else.

As a former goalkeeper, Vizarelis knows how difficult it can be for a keeper to cover up the noise of an opposing crowd. Opposing Guardians are heard chants of The Grid.

There are many classics in the Energy FC fan song catalog. Cameron Coley stands on a raised surface between two drums in front of the crowd and leads fans to support hymns. He is known as a capo, who is chosen by the presidents of the fanbase supporters. It’s been a Coley’s dream ever since he became an Energy FC fan when the team arrived in Oklahoma City. “We’re OKC, the green and the blue, so when we sing, we sing for you,” is a new, rotating song.

In Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Indy Eleven, Energy FC’s first 45 minutes of chanting and heckling were aimed at opposing goalkeeper Bobby Edwards. “Oh Bobby you, you got what I need, let the ball go into the net, let the ball go into the net”, a parody of “(You) Got What I Need” by Freddie Scott, was the one of the fans’ opening songs.

Other songs are more infamous. Against FC Tulsa on July 2, “We hate you Tulsa, we do. Oh Tulsa, we hate you ”was sung several times to the beat of the drums.

Vicki Naberhaus, loyal to Energy FC since day one, has been a lifelong football fan and attends every home game and as many road games as she can. Her favorite team before coming to the United States was Manchester United when they lived in England. Naberhaus took his son to Memphis on June 19, where Energy FC claimed their first victory in more than 300 days.

In a song titled “Shoes off for the boys”, prompting fans to take off their shoes and sing along, Naberhaus can be seen running past the crowd with his shoes in hand. Like Jenks, Naberhaus likes to make sure the crowd stays energized.

“When I first came to the United States… football was not a thing in this country, it was very small,” Naberhaus said. “When the energy came in, it was like, ‘This is it. It’s happening. ‘”

Manuel Govia, retired from the Coast Guard, originally had midfielder subscriptions. But as he learned more about The Grid, he decided to start buying season tickets in the north, where he has been sitting for two years.

Govia’s favorite aspect of the Northern Bleachers is the support of the fan base itself.

“As a sports fan you always want your team to win,” Govia said. “This is why we are here. We encourage them for victory. But as a season pass holder and a member of The Grid, my goal is our fan base, to have something in common to bring us together.

Ahead of home games, The Grid is hosting a tailgate outside Taft Stadium to raise funds for fans in need. The hatchbacks have continued since Energy FC played at Pribil Stadium on the Bishop McGuinness campus, before moving to Taft in 2015. On Saturday, interim head coach Leigh Veidman visited the hatchback to shake hands and thank the fans for their support.

Holly Hutto founded the Main St. Greens, one of The Grid’s fan groups responsible for community service initiatives, in 2017. The fan group organizes fundraisers and focuses on the LGBTQ + community through the through community outreach.

“Our mentality is that if even one person, one extra person, feels comfortable going to a game, because of (The Grid) we have achieved our goal,” Hutto said. “So this is something where there are now other groups that are in other states, other cities… members of the queer community asking for advice and support to start LGBTQ + supporters groups more for their football clubs. “

The Main St. Greens held a fundraiser at the first hatchback of the season for funeral expenses after Victor Felix-Loya, a Northwest Classen high school football player, was killed in a shootout on April 15. For Energy FC’s draw against FC Tulsa on July 2, The Grid raised over $ 400 for fans who were at risk of expulsion.

“It’s family here,” Naberhaus said. “They will take care of you. “


Share.

About Author

Leave A Reply