Mercyhurst College student Mike Johnson likely has the loudest voice at home basketball and football games.
He might have one of the biggest hearts, too, when he’s cheering at events. Except when it comes to welcoming players from visiting teams.
A self-described “big sports dude,” Johnson played basketball and football at Irvington High School in Newark, N.J.
The 22-year-old senior came to Mercyhurst to play varsity football, but he stopped playing in 2007 and became a full-time student and fan.
Johnson says he attends every football and basketball home game.
“Some away games, too,” Johnson, a criminal justice major who would like to someday work in a courtroom as a bailiff, said
You may have heard him pushing the football team’s playmaking offense for a touchdown, heckling defenders, or seen him jumping onto the field after the Lakers captured the PSAC title in November.
But now, with basketball season has arrived on campus, Johnson can be easily seen and heard.
He sits (and quite often stands) in the front row of the student section at the Mercyhurst Athletic Center, mouth constantly moving, hands clapping, yelling in support.
And the gym plays to his advantage.
“Most of the time, there’s not a lot of people there,” Johnson says. “But when there are, my voice can project in the gym better than outside.
“Everybody knows who I am, so they know they’re going to get some good quality stuff when I’m at the game.”
The best value Johnson brings to events might be his role as a type of sixth player.
He seeks to get inside the heads of opponents, sparing few aspects of their play or appearance from his ridicule.
“No profanity and nothing about people’s mothers. Everything else is fair game,” says Johnson.
At the Lakers’ home game on Dec. 6, he verbally rode a Mansfield guard with braids as the player stood at the foul line late in the game.
“HEY XZHIBIT!” yelled Johnson, making a connection to the formerly braided hip-hop artist. “Don’t miss this shot! Do not miss it.”
The player did, letting the Lakers pull within two points before they narrowly lost, 75-72, a few seconds later. His quick wit means no opponent is safe from abuse.
“Actually, I do a little scouting report,” he said, not quite indicating if he was joking or not. “I find their roster online so I can know them on a first-name basis when I call them out.
“I take this stuff serious, man.”
Gerald Anderson, the football team’s senior running back, is familiar with Johnson’s work. He says he couldn’t hear Johnson during football games but knew he was there.
“He’s a funny dude,” Anderson says. “He’s good entertainment.”
“Yeah, you saw me doing the wave, right?” replied Johnson, recalling the Nov. 13 PSAC final against Bloomsburg when he and a few friends had much of Tullio Field’s home fan section out of their seats. “I do it all.”
Anderson and Johnson will both soon graduate, but for now the latter plans on letting his voice be heard as much as possible.
“This is college. Once you’re in the real world, it’s over. You can’t do this anymore,” Mike Johnson says. “Be supportive of all our sports.”