It’s evident when Jim Lewis, father of University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh men’s basketball coach Matt Lewis, begins to work with the crowd, with his hands, feet and voice.
“Defense.” Trampling, trampling. “Defense.” Trampling, trampling. “Defense.” Trampling, trampling.
Jim Lewis is a staple behind the players’ bench with his wife, Matt’s mother, Lyndee. Often their eldest son, Jimy, is with them, along with their neighbors and other UWO fans.
When the situation on the field becomes tense, Jim begins to pound the center aisle of the bleachers with his open hand, creating energy ― and a loud sound ― that encourages the crowd to join in.
As the coach’s parents, Lyndee Lewis said she and Jim were always available, offering extra support to the team and their son when needed.
The Lewis’ game-day preparations follow a routine that includes wearing the same attire for all games, including shoes and socks, and getting sandwiches and fries from Jimmy John’s.
Before each contest, both parents send encouraging text messages to their son and just before the match starts, Lyndee makes sure he has some type of gum.
Coach Lewis’ parents have a unique perspective.
Their Titan circle is large and includes many former players and coaches. They know the birthdays of the players, their siblings and their grandparents. Lyndee notes that “it’s a sad day” when the seniors play their last game and “a fun day” every time a new player commits to the UWO.
“We are so honored to be a part of this and to be able to support our son,” she said. “He graciously allowed us to be a part of it.”
Former Titans support the team
Buzz Soderman, who was point guard for UWO from 1974-76, said this year’s team is very aggressive and fun to watch. Soderman and his wife, Ann, traveled 60 miles from Pardeeville to watch the match against Whitewater and faced a snowy return.
Along with Soderman was Tom Winek, also a former UWO guard. At 6-1 and 6-2, they remembered being the shortest players on their team. Winek, who lives in Fox Valley near Jim and Lyndee Lewis, wore a stylish warm-up from his playing days more than 40 years ago. He was proud to still be able to close it.
Gabe Gritt, a 6th grader at Plymouth, was at the game with his friend, Royce Booth, a 5th grader and younger brother of UWO player Cole Booth. Royce and Gabe were dancing and doing their best to grab the attention of the cameras and gain access to the live stream and the top scoreboard.
There were more than 12 people who attended the Whitewater game with a Cole Booth connection, including grandparents. Booth is regularly cheered on by a large number of fans. Some say “half the town” of Plymouth goes to the games.
The world is small
Robyn Kirsch, a freshman biomedical science student and volleyball player from Wausau, said the principal of the central Wisconsin high school she attended, Wausau West, is the father of UWO player Quinn Steckbauer , a junior guard of Merrill. Kirsch pointed out that Quinn’s younger sister, Kate, is also a student at UWO.
Sitting nearby were a pair of junior nursing students Cailee Franks from Watertown and Morgan Demrow from Edgerton, who say they go to the games as often as they can.
Demrow noted that sophomore Nick Spang hails from his hometown.
“She (Demrow) kind of got me going, but now I like it,” Franks said. The two were involved in the game, holding up the gold cardboard signs displaying a large number 3, each time the Titans made a three-point shot.
Like Coach Lewis, the students said they love the energy the Bolt Band brings to the games.
Lyndee Lewis encourages people to come out and support the team, regular and post-season champions this season and defending national champion with the 2019 Division. Title III―the last time the tournament was completed since it was canceled due to the pandemic.
The Titans host Blackburn College at 7:15 p.m. Friday in an NCAA Regional Tournament at the Kolf Sports Center. If they win, they will play Saturday night, also in Kolf.
“We have a good team,” Lyndee Lewis said. “They play with a lot of passion.”