Bethel basketball and baseball players make a name for themselves on Twitter.
By Conrad Engstrom
On Sept. 10, thousands of fans piled into the bleachers at Royal Stadium as the Bethel Royals kicked off their 2016 home-opener against Carthage College. Directly across from the Bethel bleachers, junior Andrew Fort fetches the balls on the visiting team’s sidelines.
Fort is one of the nine members of the BU Chain Gang. They are responsible for keeping track of the ten yards that are needed for the offense to gain a first down. Fort works alongside seniors Trevor Hall, Brycen Wojta, Brady Soderstrom, Ryan Evenson, Mitch Fredrickson, Lars Anderson, junior Tim Hansen and freshman Joe Fredrickson.
The BU Chain Gang has been able to make a name for itself. Often they hear the visiting team trashing Bethel players, whining at the refs, or complaining to the coaches. The Chain Gang tweets their favorite quotes on their Twitter page (@BUChains).
Since their Twitter account was created in 2013, they have racked up 460 followers.
2013 Bethel grads Greg Meyers and Mike Hagen were the founding fathers of the Chain Gang. At the time, Seth Mathis was the Royals’ star linebacker. Mathis was extremely talented, and had the opportunity to tryout for the Minnesota Vikings after his career at Bethel.
One Saturday home game, the players from Augsburg were consistently bashing Mathis.
“They would say things like ‘Hey number 5 you suck!’ and we would just stare at each other, like, he is by far the best player on the field right now,” Hagen said. “We had to share these ridiculous things with everyone.”
“Sometimes we felt bad about putting Bethel’s name on some of the stuff we would tweet,” Hagen said. “But the things we would hear were too funny not to [post].” Hagen and Meyers graduated at the end of the 2013 season, but the Chain Gang continued.
This year is no different. Trevor Hall and Lars Anderson run the Chain Gang’s Twitter this season, but it takes a team effort to get the good stuff.
“I’m no social media geek like Jared Nelson,” Hall said. “But I’m trying to step up my Twitter game for the chains.”
The BU Chain Gang play a big role on game days. They all arrive at the field beforehand to hoist the flags, set up the tables, place the garbage cans in the correct spots, put the pylons in the end zones and bring the chains out. There are two ball boys – one for each sideline – two guys that hold the stick, one on the downs stick, one that clips the chain so it stays at the ten yard distance in case of a measurement and a host. The host’s main job is to greet the opposing coaches and referees and show them where their locker rooms. There are also two subs in case someone cannot make a Saturday.
“It’s cool, the reputation that the Chain Gang has gotten over the years,” Brycen Wojta said. Wojta has been on the Chain Gang all four years he has been at Bethel. “Other coaches will meet us and say, ‘Hey Chain Gang, first and nine!’ It’s cool to feel part of the game like that.”
Wojta and Hall are in the weight room doing off-season lifting for basketball. Wojta, a BUChains veteran, asks Hall if he has done research on Carthage College for the upcoming game.
“I’ve done some research, not a lot of interesting stuff,” Hall says. “But I have a chains Bible Verse ready to go.”
Sure enough, Saturday morning BUChains tweets a picture of Lars Anderson holding the chain in the palms of his hands with Revelation 20:1 as the caption: “Then I saw an angel coming from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand.”