If you follow La Salle men’s basketball, you already know who Doug LeVien is. But if you don’t, here’s a guide to the Explorers fan who stands out in a crowd.
LeVien is the guy who has warranted TV airtime during each of the Explorers’ NCAA men’s basketball tournament wins.
Yes, he was the La Salle “Glitter Bro” who stood out in the crowd by sporting a blue afro wig, metallic gold suit and face paint.
“I never came across 40-year-olds wearing face paint and wigs at games before, but hey, there’s a first time for everything,” LeVien said from his office in Washington, D.C. “It doesn’t matter how old you are, the players appreciate what alumni or students are doing.”
A U.S. Army lieutenant colonel for the Joint Chiefs of Staff — yes, you read that right — LeVien used vacation days to see the Explorers play in their first NCAA tournament appearance in 21 years.
He’ll use more when he heads to Los Angeles for the Explorers’ Thursday night game against Wichita State.
The sparkling road traveled
A 1994 graduate of La Salle, LeVien flew to Dayton, Ohio last week to cheer on the school’s team against Boise State along with his college buddy, Joe Hohenleitner.
There, the pair headed to a local costume shop, picked out wigs and outfits with La Salle’s colors and headed to the game.
“Our biggest motivation really was to fire up the team,” LeVien said, adding that the duo may have distracted a few free throws in the process. “It’s great, we feel like we’re part of the action and part of the team.”
They decided to follow the Explorers to Kansas City, Mo. for the Kansas State and Ole Miss games, meeting another one of their friends from college, Dan DeStefano.
A moniker is born
“We just said, ‘Let’s get rowdy even if we’re now 40-year-old dudes,” said DeStefano, who now lives in Chester County and works in research and development for a pharmaceutical company.
He donned a blue velvet suit, yellow wig and, of course, blue-and-gold face paint.
“You don’t show up in the arena dressed like that and not expect to get on TV,” he said.
And so it was that between plays during a game in Kansas City that the cameras found the three. Their, um, school spirit launched a thousand blog posts, at which time they were dubbed the “glitter bros.”
“It’s a lot of fun,” LeVien said. “That’s what college basketball is all about. The fun, the yelling and the face paint. Nobody reserves that for a certain age group.”
To that end, LeVien has a gut feeling the “glitter bro” population will increase by Thursday’s 10:17 p.m. tipoff at the Staples Center, a game which marks the Explorers’ first Sweet Sixteen in nearly a half century.
The travel team
Other alumni are making travel plans for Thursday’s game, as well.
Bro. Ed Sheehy, who graduated from La Salle in 1968, is no stranger to hitting the road for Explorers games.
The 66-year-old La Salle history professor has traveled with the team for the past 21 years as an advisor and spiritual counselor, a role he has held since the year after the Explorers’ last tournament appearance.
“To go 21 years without this happening, it’s almost like a dream,” he said. “There’s no way to describe it except to say that sometimes you have to pinch yourself to see if you wake up.”
Sheehy was with the team in Ohio and Missouri, and said that the atmosphere of the arenas in both cities was “exhilarating.”
He added that he was amused by the age of most La Salle students relative to the time it took the Explorers to make it back into the Big Dance.
“Most of them weren’t alive when this happened last,” Sheehy said. “I said to one of the students in the pep band last night, ‘You’ll remember this for the rest of your life.”
For Wade Brosius, who graduated in 1984, the NCAA tournament has been a dream come true.
“I’ve been waiting for the chance to do this forever,” Brosius said, adding that the last time the team went to the NCAA tournament he was medical school and couldn’t attend.
He traveled from his home in Limerick to the games in Ohio and Missouri with his 10-year-old son.
“I told my youngest son that if they ever make it to the NCAA, we’re going,” Brosius said, who is heading west. “We just dropped everything and went.”
The president of La Salle’s Alumni Association, Paul Burgoyne, will be in Los Angeles, too. He was asked if he would join the “glitter bros.”
“I’m a little less vociferous,” Burgoyne said, noting that his title comes with “certain expectations of normalcy.”
We’ll check back in on that should the Explorers reach the Final Four.
For La Salle fans who can’t get to L.A. this week, the school has just released a list of watch partes.