The New Blue Crew: The Origins of the Lancer Nation Shirt

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The New Blue Crew: The Origins of the Lancer Nation Shirt

Cassidy Susi

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On October 13, 2003, Lancer Nation was created. Seniors Tyler Brett, Marcus Pinchera, Brendan Haire, Ted Glynn, Ryan Archambault, and Adam Szepkouski are just a few of the student-athletes who dreamed of a bigger, better student section during their upcoming sports season.

Fifteen years ago, the regular supporters at Waterford home games were referred to as the “Blue Crew,” a name coined by a previous senior class. As Szepkouski explains, the Crew wore navy blue shirts “with crooked white lettering that looked like their grandmothers had ironed them on at 2 in the morning.” That all changed on a relaxing day in October, while Szepkouski and his group of friends watched the Red Sox versus Yankees game in the American League Championship Series. The gang proposed the idea of a more uniform, united student section while they were in-between their own sports seasons. In their own words, the friends wanted to create something that “gave us an identity that could withstand the test of time, long after we were gone and graduated.” They succeeded.

Jack O’Keefe, then a legendary Waterford baseball coach, was the man who had first referred to the student crowd at his games as a “nation.” This is where the term began, as one of his athletes, Tyler Brett, recalled his coach’s reference when thinking of a name. Ironically, O’Keefe is now the owner of Sportees in Waterford, the company that has been printing the famous “Lancer Nation” T-shirts for years.

As the 2003 basketball season approached, Szepkouski and his friends began promoting the shirts everywhere–of course, without social media. The gang went on morning announcements and began taking orders down with pen and pencil. They began with the first pre-basketball season order of 20-30 shirts. But soon, Szepkouski, Glynn, and Pinchera were all taking multiple orders for the shirts every day. As the wildfire of Lancer Nation spread, the crew began ordering batches of shirts every couple weeks throughout the season. Szepkouski explains, “I think the blue shirts with the blue court made it extra special, creating that sea of blue!”  For the first two years of Lancer nation, the shirts were made by individuals and the profits were theirs.  In 2006, the senior class took over the creation, marketing, and profits for the shirts.

Tyler Brett recalls that Lancer Nation had become truly official when The Day sports writer, Mike Dimauro, referenced the crowd in a 2004 article. The creators of the Nation are proud of the unity they sparked in Waterford High, stating, “We never expected it to take off like it did! No other school, to our knowledge, had any sort of organized fan base that was replicated like the way we had done it.” They add, “We are all quite proud of what Lancer Nation has grown to today.  It’s really special.”

And, they’re right. No other school in the area has the shirts, the team, or the student section that Waterford still has to this day, because of what a group of high school athletes proposed on a couch one afternoon, 15 years ago. Their contributions still have had Waterford’s fans recognized by Mike Dimauro in The Day numerous times in the past decade and a half.  This year alone the senior class sold 435 Lancer Nation shirts between the high school and middle school. The commitment of these students demonstrates the power just a few high school kids have on uniting their community for generations to come.


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