Oct 21, 2008
Thirty-five years of fanning the Flames
by Drew Menard
Be it basketball, football, baseball, soccer or volleyball, amidst a roaring crowd of cheering fans, one voice stands out above the rest as Liberty’s “Number One” fan.
His name is Gary Householder, and he has been attending sporting events at Liberty since before anyone can remember, himself included. Householder is a fan who holds a status well above the rest by attending every home game at Liberty.
“He (Householder) is at every event. Soccer, indoor track, volleyball, basketball, football, he’s at all of them,” Kevin Keyes, associate athletic director of external affairs, said.
Householder not only attends the games but also participates. He cheers, jeers, hoots, hollers, lets the players know if they are doing well and lets the officials know if they missed a call.
“Gary’s participation at the game(s) would definitely be defined as 'cheerleader.' He is the first one to cheer when a point is made or (point out) when a bad call is made,” senior volleyball player Ashley Webber said.
Physical disability and a speech impediment do not prevent Householder from doing whatever he can to support the Flames both at the games and around campus.
During the week, Householder can be spotted on campus yelling words of encouragement to students and faculty members. “Gary will find you around campus and give you a high five for (an) amazing game that week or ask you how the season is going and wish you good luck,” Webber said.
Householder also spends time cleaning up trash around the campus.
“Gary is not on payroll,” Terry Falwell, community liaison said. “He just loves Liberty so much he wants to keep this place clean.”
About four or five years ago, Dr. Jerry Falwell Sr. recognized Householder during convocation for his service, according to Terry . Householder was presented with a pass that allows him to eat all of his meals at the Reber-Thomas Dining Hall for free.
“The students gave him a standing ovation,” Terry said.
“The card no longer works,” Doug Pugh, Liberty Dining general manager said. “We just let him (Householder) in.”
Householder still treasures the card and keeps it with him at all times, along with another card which permits him free admission to all Flames home games.
Like the dining card, the athletics card is no longer required as he is recognizable by the staff.
“He doesn’t miss a minute,” Terry said of Householder’s dedication to the games.
“It is always fun to see him (Householder) in the crowd supporting the teams and getting the crowd pumped up for the game,” Webber said.
One of Householders most memorable memories was being thrown out of a Flames soccer game against Coastal Carolina. Householder noticed that a player on the opposing team threw a cheap shot against one of Liberty’s players. The official penalized Liberty’s player even though he had not caused the altercation. Householder, intending no ill will, walked out on the field to explain what he saw to the official. The referee apparently misunderstood Householder’s gesture.
“I got kicked out,” Householder said.
In addition to being a dedicated fan, Householder is also a committed member of Thomas Road Baptist Church (TRBC).
“The main thing is not only his love for sports, but every Sunday he is at Thomas Road sitting in the front row,” Terry said.
Being called Liberty’s number one fan means a lot to Householder. He wears the title with pride and does whatever he can to support the two passions of his life.
“I love sports -- God first but sports second,” Householder said.
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