East Tennessee State’s official mascots are Pepper and Bucky. Its unofficial one is Jeff McCorkle.
McCorkle is somebody who you probably would easily recognize. He has been attending ETSU since 1992 and is very visible at sporting events. He’s usually running through the aisles and being loud.
McCorkle has earned the name Superfan because of his school spirit. He has been an active fan for a long time, as he won the school spirit award his senior year at Tri-Cities Christian.
Things have changed at ETSU since McCorkle has been here. Near-sellout crowds for basketball games have been replaced with many empty seats. But unlike some fans, McCorkle has remained loyal in every sport whether the Bucs are winning or losing.
“It does bother me that the fans base too much on winning,” McCorkle said. “They should base it on how well they play even in defeat. If they’re pretty good you should still come out and support them.”
While nobody can question the loyalty McCorkle has, some people believe McCorkle does all that yelling and running to gain attention.
“There are always people that think like that,” he said. “Most people see me and they know better than that. I’m doing it for more than attention.”
According to McCorkle, most of the attention is positive.
“People come up to me and say `Hey, Superfan,’ and I’ve never seen them before,” McCorkle said.
McCorkle’s love for ETSU sports has not gone unnoticed by the athletes. It helps them to know that they have at least one true fan in the stands.
“They compliment me all the time,” McCorkle said. “Just recently I got a soccer shirt from the soccer team, so that was pretty cool. This can be a good thing; you can get free shirts and free stuff.”
The players like him so much that McCorkle said they want him to attend road games.
“I would give anything to do that,” he said. “I know that the volleyball team would definitely appreciate it.”
McCorkle also thinks it’s important to support all ETSU sports. In addition to basketball and football, he attends volleyball, soccer and baseball and will start going to the softball games when they begin next spring.
McCorkle gives all the sports equal treatment.
“They’re all the same to me,” he said. “I put the same into every sport, it doesn’t matter what it is.”
Not everybody shares McCorkle’s enthusiasm for ETSU sports. In fact, he has been humiliated several times by other fans.
“I’ve had people at basketball games throw stuff at me,” he said. “I just ignore it. If they’re jealous that’s OK. They’re not into the game like I am.”
McCorkle’s act is definitely worth the price of admission, but McCorkle hopes people come to the sporting events for the right reason.
“I don’t want them to come see me,” he said. “I want them to come support the team.”
While McCorkle’s style is something that is fairly new to ETSU, at Duke University, he would probably be just part of the crowd.
Duke fans are called the `Cameron Crazies’ because they jump up and down for two hours at Duke basketball games. McCorkle thinks that despite having the same passion for sports as they do, he is at the right place.
“There wouldn’t be enough room,” McCorkle said. “That wouldn’t work for me. I would be claustrophobic. I have to run up and down the stands. It just comes naturally to me.”
After McCorkle graduates, he has plans to continue being Superfan.
“I’ll probably be around,” McCorkle said. “I probably won’t be able to come to as many games, but I’ll try to come to what I can.