The next time you’re at an Eastern Michigan University home game, take a quick look around. More often than not, you’re likely to see an older gentleman, pacing around whichever athletic facility he happens to be in. Usually he’s wearing a white hard hat with the classic “Green E” logo, and he will certainly be showing his very vocal support for the EMU Eagles: Win or lose.
His name is Carl Ebach, and his unofficial title is the “EMU Superfan.” While he currently storms the sidelines rooting for the home team, his journey to get to this point in his life has not come without its share of ups and downs.
Ebach, 59, said the reason he normally stands up during the games is because he has had ten spinal operations and was paralyzed and bedridden from 1987 to 1995.
After enduring the operations, he was able to overcome being paralyzed and started to go through intense therapy until he felt well enough to enroll at EMU in September 1995.
Since his enrollment in ’95, he has been to more than 2,300 EMU home games, including 102 consecutive football contests.
Ebach recalled his first home football game in September 1995, when EMU played the University of Nevada-Las Vegas Runnin’ Rebels.
“I remember getting a chance to see Charlie Batch play at quarterback and seeing [Rynearson] Stadium almost sold out,” Ebach said. “That [atmosphere] is what I enjoyed the most from [my] first game.”
When it comes to being loud and opinionated, Ebach does not hold back at all.
“I have been kicked out of 19 basketball games [eight men’s and 11 women’s], a softball game and got the women’s volleyball team a yellow card,” he said. “At the University of Michigan’s Crisler Arena, they had the back officials [at the volleyball games] within two seats of me to make sure I did not say anything.”
His greatest memory at an EMU sporting event was a game-winning shot from Earl Boykins at Bowen Fieldhouse against the University of Toledo Rockets, the final men’s basketball game played there.
“We needed two points to tie and three to win,” Ebach recalled, “Boykins got the ball at half-court because there was hardly any time left. He turned, shot the ball, then looked back towards the student section and then saw the shot go in, and it was amazing to witness.”
With the exception of Tennis and Rowing, Ebach has attended at least one game for every EMU varsity sport. He was also a part of the student leadership group, which helped in the process of building the Convocation Center.
When it comes to his academic ties to EMU, Ebach is a double graduate: first in 2000, with a bachelor’s degree in marketing and sales management, and then in 2002, with a master’s degree in human resources organizational development.
When Ebach is not cheering on the Eagles, he is a substitute teacher for several area school districts.
“I teach all grades, [all] classes, special needs from [ages] 18-25 and respite care,” he said.
The biggest joy Ebach gets from teaching is some of the elementary kids he taught end up at Eastern and they come up to him and say they remember him.
“Most of the kids have told me that I am the best substitute teacher ever, and it is a great feeling,” he said.
So the next time you go to a home game and see the EMU Superfan, give him a pat on the back or even a wave. It is easy to be a fan when your team is winning, but to endure the ups and downs of college athletics for more than 2,300 games and counting, Ebach has proven his loyalty to the green and white like no other.
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