DePaul Super Fans Fly in From Dallas for Home Games
June 13, 2017
CHICAGO – Imagine the kind of passionate, true-blue, basketball fans who would fly in from Dallas for practically every Blue Demon game at Allstate Arena.
Meet Bradley and Jennifer Norris, a couple in their mid-40s with no previous connection to DePaul.
In fact, Bradley was a 10-year-old living in Minnesota when one day he began watching a Blue Demon game on WGN-TV. He took an instant liking to the team.
“People have always thought it was unusual that I was a DePaul fan,” he said. “My family moved to Fullerton, Calif. and I was the only one cheering for DePaul. I’d bet on the Blue Demons against my buddies, and this was in the late 1980s when the team was awesome. Guess I made some good money off them.
“I remember the time DePaul came out West and played Pepperdine. I went to see that game. I wore my DePaul T-shirts and stuff all the time as my family and relatives would buy those for my birthday and Christmas presents.”
Jennifer Norris is the Managing Principal of the Mohr Partners global commercial real estate advisory firm that provides real estate services in more than 70 countries. She graduated from The Art Institute of Dallas and Bradley from the University of Texas at Dallas.
“Bradley has this love for DePaul,” Jennifer said. “I grew up in the Indianapolis area and had heard of the university. One of the first things he talked about when we first met was DePaul. Before we were married, we saw the Tommy Kleinschmidt team play Texas in Austin. I didn’t have much of a choice but to become a DePaul fan.”
Their suburban Dallas home is decorated completely in DePaul paraphernalia. There is a DePaul wreath adorning their front door. You notice a sign that reads: Home Sweet, Home DePaul Blue Demons. There is an autographed basketball from the Blue Demon women’s basketball team, and Bradley has an autographed ball from the men’s basketball team for every year since 2010. A nice touch is an old caricature of Alumni Hall.
Jennifer and Bradley enjoy watching a recording of the “Who’s Next” TV commercial featuring Quentin Richardson, Bobby Simmons and Steven Hunter that was filmed in 2012 at a West Side barbershop. Your eyes will focus on the game-worn DePaul jersey signed by Bradley’s favorite player, David Booth.
Whenever they are in Chicago, the first stop Bradley makes is to the DePaul bookstore for the latest Blue Demon apparel. Jennifer said her husband has more than 75 DePaul polo shirts and a total of 300 Blue Demon T-shirts. Friends often ask Jennifer if her husband owns anything that doesn’t say DePaul.
Their mutual affection for DePaul is reflected in their contribution to the new Wintrust Arena. They have named the assistant coaches office and a men’s basketball locker.
“We have so much love and faith in DePaul, and the university has become a part of who we are,” Jennifer said. “We have been blessed and are very fortunate in our lives, and by giving back, we want to help out in any way we can. The naming rights is another way of showing our love and support.
“The first time we flew in from Dallas for a DePaul home game was towards the end of the 2009-10 season. Both of us said: ‘Let’s do it.’ At Allstate Arena we sat next to Ray Meyer’s son-in-law.
“When people hear how many times we fly to watch DePaul games, they are incredulous and can’t believe it. My family drives an hour or two to Bloomington, Ind. to watch Indiana games, and they can’t believe we fly to DePaul games.”
And that also includes periodic trips to catch the Blue Demons on the road.
“We fly in for 10 to 14 games a year,” Bradley said. “We travel a lot and have been to Europe, Las Vegas, Disney World. We’ve been to the BIG EAST tournament at Madison Square Garden, and I went to Miami last December to see them play Temple.
“We were in Vegas in 2008 for a tournament and went over to a group of DePaul people. Jeanne (Athletics Director Jean Lenti Ponsetto) and her husband Joe Ponsetto were there along with Lemone Lampley, Joni Phillips, Wayne and John Koshmider who drive in for home games from Goshen, Ind. We got to know Stephen Howard who lives in Dallas.”
Jennifer added: “We’ve kept in touch with him and become friends. He is involved in a charity with us, and we just saw Stephen and his mom a few months ago.”
They met legendary DePaul great Mark Aguirre at the NCAA women’s basketball Sweet 16 in Dallas last year and attended his induction into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in Kansas City.
“I got to know Mark while I was there, and at one point he was talking to Dominique Wilkins, the spectacular NBA star from the Atlanta Hawks who was known as the Human Highlight Film,” Bradley said. “At one point, Mark and Dominique were talking to each other. Mark introduced me, and I told Dominique: ‘You are one of the greatest ever---but you are no Mark Aguirre.’”
Bradley and Jennifer have been loyal Blue Demon fans through thick and thin.
“Once we started flying in for games, we stuck to it and wanted to continue supporting the team even at a time when it was really struggling,” Bradley said. “We’re really looking forward to the new Wintrust Arena and seeing the winning tradition restored at a city location. It’s an exciting time.
“I am an intensely loyal person, and once I started going to DePaul games, there was this incredible feeling of family. I’ve met some wonderful people from Jeanne to Marge Mazik working at the Champions Club room. There’s Thad Dohrn, Dave Corzine, Lemone Lampley, Jennifer Thomas and all the players I’ve gotten to know. Mario Stulo still says in contact with us.
“Father Dennis (DePaul President Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M.) came out to dinner with us a couple of years ago at the Athletic Directors Association convention with Jeanne, Joe and Thad.
“Where else can you have such a close and personal relationship with the athletic director of a major Division I school? Where else could someone like me be allowed to join in at a team dinner and experience the video chalk talk?”
It wouldn’t be a surprise if these diehard fans have already booked plane reservations for the 2017-18 Wintrust Arena season opener.
“The first time we walk into the new arena and see our name in the building, it will be both heartwarming and exciting,” Bradley said. I’ll probably have a few tears in my eyes. I really do love DePaul.”
“It will be overwhelming, and I’ll also be in tears,” Jennifer said. “It means so much to be a part of the DePaul family and to share our good fortune with DePaul.”
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