Logan, Utah – I have been fortunate this past year to be able to photograph Utah State University athletic events for CacheValleyDaily.com. One of the things I enjoy most about this opportunity is photographing spectators to try and capture the atmosphere of the game. Occasionally I find someone, or some group, in the crowd that I can capture with my camera who tells the story of the game better than a play on the field or court. One of these fans this past year, who has gone beyond telling the story of the game and into the realm of a story himself, is Bill Sproat.I first remember seeing Bill at a football game. He was selected to participate in a promotional event by attempting to kick a field goal. I seem to remember he was successful, but that is not what I remember most about the situation. What happened after his attempt will stick out in my mind forever. Bill followed up his attempt by effortlessly removing his shirt and running around the field as the fans cheered. I have since found that Bill has a history of removing his shirt. Fast forward to this year when I was then given the opportunity to photograph Bill at different sporting events to help tell the story of the events. Bill has been a “dream come true” for finding that one fan who has become a story within a story at each event.Although I first remember seeing Bill at a football game, I really didn’t catch the spirit of what Bill was until the basketball season. Bill has been entertaining the crowds at the Spectrum at Utah State University for some time. He generally arrives early and is always on the front row of the student section situated directly behind the East basket. The East basket is where the opposing team shoots during the second half of each basketball game, which becomes an important basket for the student section to heckle at critical times during the game. Bill is best known for how he “influences” foul shots when the opposing players are trying to focus and concentrate on their shots.I recall during the Louisiana Tech game Tai Wesley had just fouled Magnum Rolle. While standing at the foul line the referees had to stop and discuss something before giving the ball to Rolle for the foul shot. While waiting, Rolle made the mistake of looking into the crowd. He spotted Bill, who was dressed as Peter Pan, and lost his concentration. He turned away with a huge grin on his face and then covered his mouth with his jersey and started to laugh. He then proceeded to miss his only foul shot of the game (he went 5-6 from the foul line on the night). Bill was successful.Bill spends time planning and then implementing various “original” techniques for diverting the concentration of players when they are trying to concentrate the most, during foul shots. Never a person to miss an opportunity to introduce a theme-appropriate distraction, Bill dresses in various flamboyant outfits based on the opposing team. Some of his outfits have included things like a Hawaiian grass skirt complete with coconut shell top and a Chippendale costume so authentic he could have flown straight to Vegas for an evening performance at the Rio — well, except for the fact that Bill is somewhat less physically chiseled than the real Chippendales (at least he would have made Chris Farley proud).Recently Bill found himself the focus of ESPN2 during a televised game against the Idaho Vandals. February is the month of love and Bill’s theme for the game was Cupid. Yes, Cupid that boy god of love and beauty complete with a bow to shoot arrows inspiring romantic love. Bill’s version of Cupid would have brought pride to Venus and Mercury. While Venus and Mercury are accustomed to seeing Cupid in the nude, Bill chose an outfit with a pink tutu — thankfully! During the game an Idaho player was fouled and approached the foul line in an attempt to put two easy points on the scoreboard for the visiting Vandals. Easier said than done.Bill captured the attention of everyone in the building, including the ESPN cameras and announcers. Jefferson, the Idaho player, proceeded to miss both foul shots and Bill was introduced to the world on live television. ESPN then went on to list Bill’s performance as the #1 “Not Top Ten Play” of the week. That, coupled with social media spreading the video around the globe, has propelled Bill into legendary status and an obstacle teams visiting the Spectrum must plan for in the future.Since Bill’s introduction to the world of sports via the Idaho game, he has now reached an almost stardom. ESPN recently interviewed Bill live from Logan and rumors have it that they can’t get enough of Bill. Bill was a guest on
<a href=”http://podcast.cachevalleydaily.com/FCP-02-26-2010.mp3″>KVNU’s Full Court Press program on Friday, February 26</a>
and said ESPNU is in talks with him about attending Spring Break events in North Carolina. Newspapers, television, and websites just can’t get enough of Bill.I have been accumulating photographs of Bill during the season with the plan to run a special gallery at the end of the season summarizing all of his various costumes. Now that everyone else has jumped the gun and run their photos and stories, I decided I might as well get mine out there now and then follow up later with whatever he decides to end the home season with in terms of costume. Running the risk of being labeled the last to the story, I decided it would better to be last than miss entirely. I will leave getting quotes and those official writing techniques to the pros and submit this as the story from my seat at the games on the floor and finish with the best way I know how to tell a story, my gallery of photographs of Bill.