Current Date: Wed, 11 Dec 2013 17:37:05 -0500
They’re hard to miss, the Blue Men.
Decked out in blue full-body spandex suits, hats flipped backward, sunglasses and UNC blue-colored kicks, North Carolina junior track and field athletes Chadd Pierce and Pete Rehder have been chanting and cheering for UNC football since the start of last school year.
Inspired by Charlie Day’s “Green Man” character in the FX sitcom “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” Pierce asked Rehder if he would be interested in adopting a similar persona at UNC’s home opener last season.
“I found out (that Pierce and Rehder were the Blue Men) at the first football game last year,” junior track and field teammate Ryan Ramsey said. “My reaction was not surprised at all. I’m surprised Chadd doesn’t wear it around campus, actually.”
As their popularity grew, the Blue Men became some of UNC football’s rowdiest, loudest fans.
“We’re not trying to toot our own horns, but we get pretty pumped,” Rehder said. “We try to keep the energy up.”
They sing, dance, yell, compete in freestyle rap battles and even have their own chant for a UNC first down.
“We are the super-fans. I’m not afraid to turn around and just yell at people for not being loud. I’m like, ‘Get loud! C’mon!’” Pierce said. “Pretty much for every football game, I lose my voice by the end of the first quarter.”
Pierce said they try to remain respectful of other fans by keeping the chants and cheers G-rated, and they said they realize that not all fans are as outwardly supportive of the Tar Heels.
In return, they have gained the admiration of fellow students and UNC fans alike.
“I love the respect we get. People aren’t like ‘Man, you guys are crazy’,” Pierce said. “(Instead) it’s like ‘We respect you. What you guys do is legit.’”
Aside from widespread respect, their unyielding dedication bears many other benefits. The two have been on TV multiple times and have even received a shout-out from a commentator. They constantly receive photo requests and have been featured on SI.com.
It’s not all fun and games under the suit, though.
“We’ve gotten a little sweaty this year; let’s just say that,” Rehder said with a laugh.
Cold weather offers no respite. The spandex provides little protection from wind, rain and chilly temperatures.
“People are like ‘Oh, well at least when it’s cold outside, you’re covered.’ That thing is paper-thin,” Pierce said. “You get the worst of both. When it’s hot, you’re burning up, and when it’s cold, (you’re freezing).”
But they’re willing to endure those challenges, and they do so anonymously — just the way they like it.
They don’t want the aura of the Blue Men to be ruined by revealing their identities.
“If you just know people as the Blue Men, it’s like a persona,” Rehder said.
Outside of spending their Saturdays at Kenan Stadium clad in spandex, Pierce and Rehder are typical UNC student athletes.
As UNC track and field athletes, they both experience and respect the time and dedication required of Division I student athletes. Both are team captains this year and with their eyes set on an ACC championship.
They have even considered mixing their two identities.
“To try to get people to come to track meets, we’re gonna pole vault, at some point, in the Blue Man suits,” Pierce said. “We’re gonna do it.”
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