Bleachers are the most uncomfortable and unsupportive seats out there.
But that doesn’t stop life-long, Belmont Bruin fan Patrick Russo from attending every game, every sport, every season.
Bleacher seats are this guy’s throne.
“They play for me. That’s the least I can do for them,” Russo said.
A music business graduate of Belmont University’s 1989 class, Russo has been a Bruin for many years. His collegiate T-shirts overtake his closet and all other nooks and crannies of his home. Any drawer opens to little bear logos and sleeves of red and blue.
Lounging between two bleacher seats, the 6 feet 3 inch Russo watched the Belmont versus Tennessee State University Tigers volleyball game with quick and knowledgeable eyes. He cheered on the athletes by name, if not by nickname. He commented on their serves, passes and hits as though he were a professional volleyball commentator.
“Go Maddy!,” “There you go, Scar!” and “Here comes the monster!” were only a couple of yells heard from Russo at the game.
He compared the players’ techniques with those from years past, pulling names from rosters six years ago. He disagreed with the refs and even knew which opponents to look out for on the opposing team.
Thing is, he does this for every sport. At home games he sits in the front row, and the difference between the athletes on and off the court impress him. Tennis is a sport, he said where the players get aggressive.
“They seem so sweet and nice, and then on the court, they let the words fly. It‘s freaking hilarious,” Russo said. “That‘s the sport for you if you like to hear people cuss.”
Despite being such a sports fan, Russo never found one a sport he excelled in. He tried basketball in high school and even ran cross-country for a hot second at Belmont.
However, after less than two weeks, Nashville’s heat was too much for him, and he realized he was better at watching the Bruins than at attempting to be one. It worked out perfectly though, because now he doesn’t have to choose just one sport. His favorite is whatever Belmont is playing.
Russo’s world, or at least calendar week may revolve around courts, balls and fields, but when he is not in the stands, he is playing music.
It’s weird, electronic music, he said. His songs have a quick beat and many techno instrumental sounds woven in.
He was recording in his studio just hours before coming to the volleyball game at TSU where he quickly switched from his songs to fight songs.
He blends his two passions in a quirky way of identifying sports with musical genres.
Volleyball is an edgy sport, so he classifies it as punk rock; basketball is R & B; baseball is country. Softball is bluegrass, and golf is obviously classical, while tennis is jazz, he explained.
Belmont may be his alma mater and the only school he religiously follows, but it is not the only college he can be spotted at during sporting events. He also enjoys games at Middle Tennessee State University and Vanderbilt University. He justifies this with the fact the schools don’t share the Ohio Valley Conference with Belmont, so it’s fair.
His girlfriend Candice may be the perfect woman for him; she has him set with Vanderbilt games as she runs the stat board for basketball. She also buys him season tickets for Belmont basketball as birthday gifts.
There is one sport, however that falls through the cracks somehow, and Russo is not able to attend many games. Something always comes up, keeping him from making it to men’s golf. The team’s schedule is opposite his.
“I blame the athletic department for not consulting with me first,” Russo joked.
In following his passion of sports, the Belmont Athletic Department has taken notice, to say the least.
Media Relations Director Kenisha Rhone has worked in the department for 11 years and doesn’t remember exactly when she got to know Russo.
He’s just always been there.
“He‘s not a regular, casual fan. He knows the rosters and reads up on the athletes and asks them how things are going,” Rhone said.
She doesn’t like the term “super fan,” but the word super, she said, is accurate to describe Russo.
It’s hard not to take note of the guy bundled up in a coat, gloves and scarf at a February baseball game in 20-degree temperatures.
“Yep, I literally look like Kenny from South Park, with just enough of my coat’s hood open so I can watch my Bruins,” Russo said.
And of course, under all his layers of winter clothes, he has on his sport-specific, Belmont T-shirt.
Good words for him are anything but scarce through the athletic department offices, but his cheering and support mean the most to the athletes.
Apart from a few local and dedicated parents, he can be the only reassuring face the players see when they scan the seats for support.
Senior marketing major Evin Edins plays for Belmont’s golf team, and Russo is only referred to as “Pat” by Edins.
“It’s not like basketball. It’s probably not as interesting for most people to watch,” Edins said. “So it just makes us feel special that somebody cares enough to go out and come watch us play.”
Golf doesn’t have many spectators, but Edins can count on Russo being there. There are nine women on the team, and he watches everybody, so he is all over the course. And he walks, Edins said.
He is a very good role model for people who want to stay involved with sports after they graduate, because “your time at Belmont doesn’t end when you graduate, she said. “It ends when you decide.”
This is reassuring for Edins.
“He shows me that no, it won‘t look weird if I come back and watch because Pat‘s at literally everything,” Edins said. He comes to the golf tournament each year in Murfreesboro and “if I didn’t see him there one year, I’d be like ‘where’s Pat? Why isn’t he here?’” Edins said.
Softball is similar to golf in that there aren’t too many people who come out to watch.
Senior international politics major Kirbie Ferrell plays softball, and she wants Russo to know how much the team appreciates his consistency.
“It‘s nice to have someone at so many of our games, especially since we don‘t have many local players on our team,” Ferrell said.
Patrick Russo may not be a household name throughout Belmont University‘s campus, but to the athletic community, the name means a great deal. Russo knows more results and statistics, going further back in past years than current players know. Russo risks frostbite for early-season baseball games more so than some parents. Russo owns more collegiate T-shirts than women own shoes.
Russo is Belmont’s biggest fan. This article was written by Alexandria Hurst.