Lead Photo
Men’s Basketball Fan zone

Sideline super fans

Loyola diehard fans Bob Haselsteiner and Joe Dlugosz share their decades-long love for Rambler basketball

Bob Haselsteiner is a Loyola University Chicago diehard, and he remembers it all. He went to his first men’s basketball game as a Loyola Academy student, nearly 75 years ago. The leading scorer on that team was Jack Kerris, a center whose running hook shots banged off the backboard and always fell through. Haselsteiner remembers taking his eventual wife to a game on their first date. He remembers the double- and triple-headers at Chicago Stadium. The postgame dinner and confab in the 1980s with then-Ramblers head coach Gene Sullivan. The charter flight to San Antonio for the Final Four appearance, three decades later. 

Most intensely, Haselsteiner remembers that magical night in 1963—he’s in his den, watching Loyola play for the NCAA men’s basketball title on a slight television delay, his wife listening live to the radio feed in their kitchen. There she was, shrieking with excitement as their beloved team erased Cincinnati’s 15-point second-half lead—unbeknownst to her tape-delayed husband. He coaxed her back to the couch, where “together we watched Loyola win in thrilling style.” 

Joe Dlugosz “caught the bug” during his sophomore year at Loyola, in 1996. Dlugosz and a half-dozen of his buddies would pile into Gentile Arena, coordinating their t-shirts and doing their best impression of Duke’s Cameron Crazies. To cap it all off, he bought a display case to house the Rambler memorabilia he’s collected over the years. It’s filled to the brim, with plenty of other knick-knacks still boxed away. (Take a look at some of Dlugosz's collection below.)

What kept them coming back for more? It was their love for basketball, certainly. It was also their love for Loyola itself; games provided an excuse to visit the Lake Shore Campus, to stop into Madonna della Strada Chapel, to don their maroon and gold. Most crucial, though, were the relationships forged inside the arena, the familiar faces ready for a high five. “Friends that I went to the games with, we’re all still close 25 years later,” says Dlugosz. “We’ve gone on a million road trips to watch the team.” 

This winter fandom has manifested in different ways. From his nursing home in Schaumburg, Illinois, Haselsteiner watches the games on television or listens to the radio feed through his computer. An annual donor since the 1980s and member of the now-defunct Rambler Varsity Club, this year Haselsteiner also paid for a fan cutout at Gentile, providing simulated support through his cardboard proxy.

Dlugosz, meanwhile, juggles group text threads and his Twitter account. A longtime season ticket holder, he's had to adjust his plans this year and wonders whether he’s “spent more money on various streaming platforms, trying to make sure I get every single game, than I would have on season tickets.”

How will March Madness play out for the Missouri Valley Conference regular season and tournament champs? Haselsteiner is cautiously optimistic. Dlugosz, a pessimist by nature, is taking it day-by-day, one game at a time. 

Ready for next year?

This season may not be over, but it isn't too early to start thinking about next year. Reserve your spot in Gentile by securing your season tickets for 2021-22.