Dr. Heckle, compatriots get under opponents' hide: Juniors Lucas Braun, Jacob Licht and Ben Rifkin pride themselves on torturing Chase Field's visiting teams

by Austin Zalkin | 11/18/98 6:00am

A collection of fans litters the stands of Chase Field at every Dartmouth men's soccer home game. Perhaps 50 to 100 fans, old and young, situated from goal line to goal line, mumble to each other about Big Green teams of yore, their kids' little league soccer and the occasional drunken hookup.

But out of the collage of conversations, one voice rises confidently above the others. Stridently, Lucas Braun '00 cries out to the opposition.

"That was a horrible play! You suck!"

Braun is one of Dartmouth's foremost hecklers, a voice of insult in an otherwise mundane crowd.

To an opposing defender named Mario, Braun inquired, "Where's Luigi?" He proceeded to sing the theme music to Nintendo's Super Mario Brothers, known to all of college age.

Along with a group of friends, many of them members of Alpha Delta fraternity, Braun hurls tasteful insults at opposing players.

"I don't say any cuss words," Braun said. "There are kids there."

Youths notwithstanding, the small contingent of Dartmouth hecklers, which also includes Jacob Licht '00, Christian Budde '00 and Ben Rifkin '00, according to Braun, have made the Big Green's Chase Field an unpleasant place for the visiting team.

Licht recounted an instance of the group's heckling.

"This [opposing] team had about six kids with bleached blonde hair so we really pissed them off with comments about their hair," he said. "I made one comment about the bleach in a kid's hair killing the grass when he fell."

At another Dartmouth game against Stanford, the Cardinal goalie's goal kicks flew high but not very far.

"That's like an elephant's ass," Braun yelled. "It's high and it stinks."

Student fans unabashedly break out in hysterics at Braun's and his cohorts' antics. Older fans attempt to remain dignified, but their smirks are clearly visible at some of the student hecklers' more gifted moments.

Braun maintains his loud comments are restricted to Big Green soccer. He doesn't heckle at other Dartmouth sports or any other events.

Licht said he occasionally heckles at women's volleyball games, "but considers the soccer field the place where I feel most comfortable laying it on the line for the good of the squad." Rifkin said he heckles at football games as well as soccer and women's volleyball.

Braun, Licht and Rifkin said they had backgrounds in soccer that ended before they came to college. Rifkin said he played varsity soccer through high school and was captain and league MVP his senior year.

Licht said, " had a glorious soccer career of eight years at midfield that ended with injury in the eighth grade." Braun said he stopped playing European football in ninth grade, but has several friends on the Dartmouth team.

Braun said team members Jamie Hozack '00 and Mike Lewis '00, who are among the eight residents of an off-campus apartment along with Braun, have thanked him for his verbal jabs.

"They say when they go to places and people yell at them, it sort of sucks", Braun said. "We try and make it an unfriendly place for the other team. It helps [our] team."

Braun began helping the team from the sideline last year with several other juniors.

"There were a lot of older guys in the house that sort of screamed and yelled," Braun said. "They left, so we're sort of filling the blanks."

Dartmouth's hecklers find many ways to annoy and antagonize opposing players.

"Heckling is all about wit and getting inside someone's dome," Licht said. "It's about well-timed, repeated shots at a player when he falls, misses a kick or gripes about a call. That's when you let him know that he can come to my mom's house for some lemonade and cry some more."

Braun said he just uses whatever comes to him.

"Some things are on my mind, I feel like I need to share them," he said.

There are particular ways of attacking the other team, however.

"If a guy has a really weird name, we'll just chant his name," Braun said.

"We also like to make comments about a player's height, or rather their lack of it," Licht added.

Heckling isn't even restricted to the opposition.

"I think the funniest comment I have heard is 'Hey ref, get off your knees, you're blowing the game," Rifkin said.

Braun said he would never heckle Dartmouth's players, regardless of their performance, but that there are no limits for heckling another team.

"I heckle because it's fun, gets other fans and myself more involved in the game and distracts the opposing team while entertaining our team," Rifkin said.

The hecklers' outspoken natures have drawn many more laughs than reprimands, though some have taken issue with the group.

"We almost got kicked out of a couple of games by the peace officers", Braun said. He also acknowledged negative comments in The Dartmouth about soccer fans at the College. He says that he was not involved in the incidents cited in the paper.

"I try to be real careful about avoiding any remarks that could be viewed as racially-charged or sexist," Licht said. "Any moron can make offensive comments learned from the less-educated segments of our society."

Braun, Licht, Rifkin and Co. have vocally attended a majority of the Green's home games this season.

Braun said he goes to soccer games because they're fun to watch. Others who go to soccer games find the audio performace amusing as well.