Meadowbrook Maniacs: It’s a riot


Nowshin Chowdhury

The Meadowbrook Maniacs support both the men’s and women’s soccer teams through chants during the games.

Full of enthusiasm, school spirit and last, but not least, hilarious chants, Oakland’s Meadowbrook Maniacs is a significant source of support for Oakland University’s soccer programs.

The group was created two years ago through the efforts of Jacob Gozdor and his older brother C.J. With his sibling now graduated, Gozdor, a junior, is at the helm of a group that screams things like “Over there it’s quiet, over here, it’s a riot!” and “You only brought your parents!” to the opposing team and its fans.

“We tried to build some enthusiasm with the soccer program, but it didn’t really take off at first,” Gozdor said. “This year was really our push to try to get it going again, and it has really taken off. We’ve gotten people really involved and excited about the soccer programs here at Oakland.”

Joey Verhelle, a freshman at Oakland and a high school friend of Gozdor’s, has also helped foster new growth for the group.

“[Gozdor] does a really good job at running the Twitter feed,” Verhelle said. “I created a Facebook page, which is starting to get things going, but a lot of information still comes from word-of-mouth as well.”

Although the group has an established presence on social media, a major concern is the overall attendance at the events.

“The hardest thing is getting people that aren’t interested in soccer out to the games,” Verhelle said. “When we get people out there they have a great time but getting people to actually come out is difficult.”

A loyal member of the Maniacs is Oakland freshman Tommy Haase. Haase became involved in the group through Verhelle, as the two knew each other from high school. Haase is a testament to the real grassroots system the group relies and thrives on.

“I decided I would join, so then I invited some of my friends, and then they invited some of their friends,” Haase said. “We ended up getting 10 people who were consistently going to games.”

The Maniacs may be small in numbers, but their passion for the Golden Grizzlies has been electric and infectious. The group has roughly 15 participants now, a result that Gozdor attributes to the group’s unique atmosphere.

“It’s a different type of support that we offer,” Gozdor said. “You get to meet fantastic new people, so any one that is willing to join is free to do so.  We’re jumping around, banging on drums and using vuvuzelas.”

Haase also noted the group’s influence at away games.

“We actually had a woman from Cleveland State University email us,” Haase said. “She wanted to see how we started things because they wanted to get an organization of their own started.”

Ultimately, the Meadowbrook Maniacs would like to see increased participation.

“Realistically, for next year I would love to see more freshmen get involved and have at least 25 people showing up,” Gozdor said. “We have a solid core of freshman students, and ideally, for my last year, 40 people would be the goal.”

Gozdor also mentioned the importance of establishing the group as a formal student organization.

“We’re not a club right now at Oakland, so getting to the status would be great,” Gozdor said. “We could provide T-shirts, scarves, vuvuzelas and other materials for people to use at the games.”

Gozdor concluded by emphasizing the group’s willingness to embrace new members.

“We are a very inclusive group,” he said. “Anyone that wants to come down or come make some noise is more than welcome.”