Tuesday, October 31, 2006

It Was Twenty-Five Years Ago Today

Halloween, 1981: The Wave is invented at Husky Stadium.

Geez, lotsa entries here lately about big stadium events...

Anyway, the Wave's origin revolves around Robb Weller, a former UW "yell leader" who went on to a broadcasting career, most notably as an Entertainment Tonight co-host in the '80s, and now as host of a local news show in LA. Weller graduated from the UW in 1971, and was was often invited back to subsequent games as a "guest cheerleader." As he explains here: “We used to do a version of the wave, just in the student section of the stadium, but we didn’t have a name for it. Then, while I was serving as a guest cheerleader for the homecoming game in October 1981, the wave leaked out of the student section and just took off. That’s how it got started.”

The origin is explained a bit differently in Wet and Wired: A Pop Culture Encyclopedia of the Pacific Northwest, which says Weller co-created the Wave with UW Marching Band Director Bill Bissell: "For a couple years, the two had experimented with a version that moved horizontally from the bottom row of stands to the top. Although it worked well, only part of the stadium could be involved at any one time. During the Halloween game with Stanford, however, they got the idea of moving the Wave section by section in a circular fashion throughout the stadium, and the thing just took off. Bissell recalled that the players stood in awe of what the fans were doing and that Stanford almost didn’t get its plays off."

In the following days, there was no mention of this weird new crowd cheer in the Seattle P-I or even the University of Washington's Daily, but Seattle Times columnist Georg N. Myers noted: “Washington’s student rooters remained glued to their seats, mesmerized by the medicine-man tactics of Robb Weller, the irrepressible, irreplaceable yell king of a decade ago. Into the final minute, Weller had the stands in a rolling roar, standing, section by section, shouting, waving arms. The decibel level was appropriate to the outrageous commotion on the field.”

The Huskies won, 42-31, and at some point soon after, the "rolling roar" became the world-famous "Wave."

There's also an entirely different, totally bullshit version of the Wave's origin according to some clown named Krazy George.
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