The Eagle faithful ready to support women’s basketball in Missouri

The Eagles look to their “Purple Swarm” to support them throughout the hard-fought battles in March.


Brynn Meisse, Features Editor

Ashland University’s women’s basketball team has had the support of the Ashland community over the years. 

Many dedicated fans have traveled with the team to cheer them on throughout the Elite Eight. This year it looks to be no different as the Eagles punched their ticket to dance in March against UT Tyler. 

As alumnus of the university, Steve and Kimmie Humrichouser have become the biggest fans of the women’s basketball team starting in 2013 when Kari Pickens joined the team.

They found out that Pickens was coming to Ashland through word of mouth.

“We started going because it was a great group of women back then. There was lots of talent,” Steve explained. 

The Humrichousers have shown their support to the team by attending away games this season as well as traveling by plane to the out of state tournaments.

Their years of support as boosters has allowed them to grow their relationship with the women despite not being related to anyone on the team.

Boosters are given special time with the women such as lunches where they can have conversations and get to know each other.

“Whenever they have been to Elite Eight we have been there,” Steve said.

The Humrichousers have attended several tournament games such as San Antiono, Texas, Springfield, Missouri, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and Columbus.

“It’s hard to say their is a favorite because they have all been special. Kari’s second year of being here and that national championship was quite possibly the best, but when we won the national championship in Columbus with that being in our backyard with a hometown crowd was also really special,” Steve said.

Supporting the Eagles for over 10 years has allowed them to see the evolution of the team.

“It has been a tremendous joy watching the growth of the program and the leadership that has gotten them there,” Steve concluded. 

The Humrichousers will not be attending the Elite Eight and Final Four games, but they will be there in person for final two in Dallas if the Eagles make it.

Another alumni fan that will be in the crowd at Elight Eight is Dwight McElfresh. 

He helped to create the FastBreak Club, a booster club that provides opportunities for the women’s basketball team and creates a community of support, along with former head coaches Sue Ramsey and Robin Fralick.

McElfresh is currently the president of the FastBreak Club and lives up to the club’s intention: community support.

After missing out on watching the women play in San Antonio, he “vowed to never miss another one.”

McElfresh has been to Sioux Falls and Columbus to show his support for the team, which the latter being his favorite memory.

“When you go to these games there are a few hundred fans, but in Columbus it was filled with about 2,000 people wearing purple and gold. You’ll never forget that memory practically on your home floor,” he said.

McElfresh is looking forward to the women playing in St. Joseph, Missouri and plans to make the drive with his wife and her friend. 

“It’s a great thing when the students support the team. We have a lot of people for the community that support the team,” McElfresh concluded. 

While some fans will be making the travel to watch the women play in person, some fans are choosing to stay at home and support them on the tv such as recent graduate and former player Jodi (Johnson) Phillips.

Since she is now a fan she has gained a different perspective compared to her time as a player.

“[It’s] definitely less nerve racking as a player but I still feel like I have the same energy as I did when I played. I’m all in. First year officially joining the “Purple Swarm” and I feel like I fit in nicely,” Phillips said.

Phillips played basketball for AU as guard/foward from 2016 until 2020. She was fifth on the programs All Time points list with 1,675 and apart of the team that went to the national championship in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. 

“The atmosphere of the Elite Eight is unlike any other. I think my favorite memory from the tournament is just all the energy and hype leading up to the first game. I could run through a brick wall,” Phillips said. “I enjoyed traveling with my best friends and making memories along the way while pursuing a National Championship. Plus the Eagle fans always show out!”

The Purple Swarm is ready to cheer on the Eagles at Elite Eight either on tv or in person.