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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Monday, June 27, 2022
Phil Dzick

A down season hasn’t been enough to dampen Phil Dzick’s Badger fandom, which is now in its fifth decade.

Longtime Badger fan cheering loud and proud

Students and fans alike know just where to look for him: in the same bottom row seats off the corner of the ice. He’ll be there, most likely wearing the same white sweater and red turtleneck that have become almost his trademark.

Phil Dzick has become a part of Badger hockey almost as important as the game itself. Best known for leading cheers to celebrate each time the team scores a goal, he’s done his best to engage the crowd and encourage his beloved Badgers to victory.

Dzick first started following Badger hockey in the early 1970s, and started actively leading cheers in 1981. He still remembers when it all started, at an away game in Potsdam, N.Y., against Clarkson University. He was sitting among a small group of Badger fans and felt that his team needed some love as they battled it out against the Golden Knights.

“I thought our guys needed to know we were there as well so I led a Badgers spell yell from my college days and then from there it’s just kind of taken off,” Dzick said.

After that, Dzick has steadily grown to be a centerpiece of Badger home games at the Kohl Center. Lucas Pillar, a UW-Madison senior and fourth-year season ticket holder, said Phil has become an integral and necessary part of what makes Badger games so extraordinary—the fan experience.

“There’s a reason he has his own scoreboard graphic,” Pillar said. “As soon as he rises, it changes what’s going on in the arena.”

While Phil may be best known for counting the goals after the Badgers score, he said his favorite cheers are those that encourage the team instead of just reiterating what’s on the scoreboard. 

Throughout his tenure as one of Badger hockey’s most dedicated fans, one men’s hockey game in particular stands out to Phil as a moment he’ll never forget. It came in 2006 when Phil and his wife Mary Lou were watching the Badgers battle it out against Cornell to advance to the Frozen Four, in a year they ultimately won the championship. Dzick said he vividly remembers then-freshman Jack Skille scoring the winning goal in the third overtime to grab the victory. Games like that, he said, make it all worth it.

In addition to having season hockey tickets, Phil and Mary Lou regularly attend Badger football, basketball, women’s hockey and volleyball games. While the pair have missed a few hockey games over the years, they try their best to be at each one. And usually a missed game occurs when they have tickets to other sports, most likely football in which they haven’t missed a home game at Camp Randall since first getting season tickets in 1962.

“So when there is a conflict, we have to decide, well do we go to a football bowl game or to a hockey game, but we try to do both, but sometimes that’s just not possible,” Dzick said. “In other words, when the sports are on, we have no life.”

With such high involvement in so many Badger sports, Phil has become somewhat of an expert on the various student section groups that attend each game, and he said the men’s hockey fanbase, dubbed the Crease Creatures, is the best he’s seen.

“I think the student section at Badger hockey games, men’s games that is, is about the best of the students sections ... They’re more creative and this year of course our patience has been tested,” Dzick said. “While this has been kind of a downer for the hockey guys, it’s not something that we can’t tolerate.”

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The Crease Creatures definitely reciprocate that love, and most can’t imagine what games would be like without Phil’s cheerful smile and enthusiastic cheers, including UW-Madison senior and fourth year season ticket holder Logan Elandt.

“It would be weird, really weird if he wasn’t there,” Elandt said. “But thankfully I can count on one hand the number of games he’s missed over my four years.”

Thankfully students and fans needn’t worry—Phil plans on sitting in the same spot with his signature sweater for many years to come. And after every season finishes, Phil will leave all looking forward to the next time they join him in cheering, “We want more!”

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