FARGO, N.D. — Scheels Arena amplifies on game and rightfully so when you admit thousands of rowdy Fargo Force Followers.
“It’s tremendous to have a great fan base,” head coach Cary Eades said. “It’s really fun to play in front of a big crowd. They’re loud, they’re enthusiastic, they’re intimidating to the opposition, and we just enjoy playing at home in Scheels Arena.”
But perhaps the loudest and proudest of the Fargo Fans congregate in Section 114 and are known around the rink as the ‘Force Fanatics.’
“It’s an apt name number one, it’s a great name because they are fanatics because they’re at every event,” Eades said. “They even travel on the road. It’s great to see them making noise, supporting the guys, developing relationships, and I know a lot of players really pay attention to what they’re doing and have some fun with them.”
The Fanatics were founded the first year the Force joined the USHL and came to Fargo.
“I’ve actually been coming to Force games since we started in 2008,” Travis “Sheesh-Kebab”Schiesser said.
“Travis and Seigel were always coming to the games and then I started coming to the games,” Dusty “Little Drummer Boy” Rettig added.
“I brought him to a few games, a couple of other people to a few games. We had a group,” said Schiesser.
“And it kind of just became a snowball effect and ever since then I haven’t missed a game really since,” Rettig said.
It wasn’t until a few seasons later, however, that the group decided they’d start cheering to the beat of their own drum…literally.
“There was another group that had a drum and their kids got old enough to where they were going to the kids’ games instead of coming to Force games, so the drum stopped coming to the Force games,” Schiesser explained. “Siegel and I discussed one night like ‘what if we started bringing a drum again?’ We asked the administration if they were okay with it and they were all for it, so we moved our seats that year over to Section 114 and that’s how the Fanatics became a group.”
And how did it grow from there? Drum roll please…
“The very first game we had the drum I actually played it. I was a drummer in high school,” Schiesser said.
“Well, Travis was supposed to have the drum to begin with,” Rettig echoed.
“[Rettig] actually didn’t want to really do much with the drum when we first brought it over,” Schiesser said. He was kind of skeptical about it.”
“[Schiesser] decided to go on vacation,” Rettig explained.
“However, I left to go to Colorado for a concert the next day,” Schiesser said.
“I took the drum from him and I never gave it back,” Rettig said.
“And he’s been ‘little drummer boy’ ever since,” Schiesser explained.
So, a drum and some sticks started a slew of sobriquets.
“I jokingly said I wanted to get a jersey that said ‘little drummer boy’ on the back and then one Christmas that’s what I got as a gift from the boys,” Rettig said. “It just stuck and then it just started going from there.”
The most notable nicknames include…
“My Boy Blue,” Rettig said. “Because he’s old and he reminded us of the guy from Old School, so he’s our Boy Blue.”
There’s Dr. Pepper…
“He has about three to four Dr. Peppers every game,” Rettig explained. “He’s got about one or two chugged before the game even starts, so he’s just always wound up, ready to go.”
“Well Sheesh has been my nickname for a lot of years with my last name being Schiesser, so when they decided to get me a jersey they decided it would be funny to add the ‘kebab,'” Schiesser said.
And for the rowdy ringleader that founded the fanatics…
“Oh Captain, My Captain,” Schiesser said. “Him and I started the group, so when we decided to get him one I wanted it to be something about leadership and being the captain. We put that on the back of his jersey, we gave him the ‘C’ on the front to indicate the captainship in hockey. He carries a shield on certain days with him. It’s a captain America shield.”
The Fanatics are rowdy and rink-side for over 35 games each season. The hope is they can impact at least one.
“I really enjoy leading the crowd,” Schiesser said.
“I like getting the people going,” Rettig added. “You look forward to it on a day-to-day basis.”
“The drum starts going, the crowd starts going and the next thing you know the intensity level on the ice starts getting a little better,” Schiesser continued. “Then the guys know that the crowd is into it, they want to play harder, they want to do better. I think that’s what we all, as fans, hope for. Hoping that we can make a difference on the game outcome if we can.”
“There’s no question that they’re impacting the game, impacting our crowd and impacting the enjoyment of the game for everybody,” Eades added. “You want to have people interested. They’re completely dedicated to the Force and how we’re doing. Every little thing that they can do to help us we appreciate it.”
Their awesome antics started drawing quite the Fanatic following.
“The bigger we grew then the more people wanted to participate in that. They kept starting to ask questions like ‘when do I get a jersey? What’s my nickname going to be?’ It becomes an entity you can’t control,” Schiesser joked.
So they developed a club criteria.
“You have to sit in, be in for a year and then after a year we all group together, get you a jersey, create a nickname for you and go from there,” Rettig explained.
And hopefully you too will want to cheer from Section 114 for as long as the original members hope to.
“As long as I’m still living here I’ll be here at every game,” Rettig said.
“As long as I’m living here in Fargo I plan on participating in the Fanatics group and welcoming anybody that wants to join us with open arms,” Schiesser said.