"Row the Boat" and an in-house Dee Jay were among the new features at Western Michigan University's home football games this season.
Western Michigan Football is done at Waldo stadium for the season following a loss to rival Central Michigan. The Broncos have only one win heading into their final game of the season against Northern Illinois Tuesday night. First year head coach, P.J. Fleck, has been doing more than just preparing his Bronco’s for battle on the gridiron; he has also been working on new traditions at Waldo Stadium. Among them is an in-house Dee Jay in addition to the Western Michigan band that plays at every home game.
Western Michigan Football has a new skipper steering the boat this year. Coach, P.J. Fleck is bringing more than just his football knowledge and experience to the program here at Western, he is also bringing new traditions. These include, playing Metallica’s, “For Whom The Bell Tolls” whenever the opposing team gets to a third down situation, an in-house Dee Jay named DJ Ill Mixx, and also a fourth quarter dance where the Dee Jay plays a remixed version of “Row Row Row Your Boat”, and everyone in the stands is expected to participate in rowing the WMU boat to victory.
Although the program is not where Fleck or the Western Administration would like it to be in terms of wins and loses, athletic director, Kathy Beauregard, remains optimistic:
“Coach Fleck was hired, excited about it all, believes strongly in his vision, his mission, his energy, his passion. He’s somebody that obviously we came forward with the marketing, and the internal true belief to Coach Fleck and his wife and his family on what the concept of ‘Row the Boat’ was and wanted to translate around that in the entire changing of the culture in the football program, which was needed.”
Beauregard also has high hopes that these new traditions will affect more than just the players on the field, she hopes that it will help increase attendance as well. For the Western Central game last week, Waldo stadium was packed with 22,000 spectators, compared to 26,000 when Central was last here in 2011. But this year Western faculty and staff could get up to four complementary tickets.
The addition of DJ Ill Mixx is a rare situation to Western since there are only a handful of in-house Dee Jays at college football games across the country. DJ Ill Mixx, whose real name is Tim Crampton, says he has had a soft spot for music ever since he was a boy. But it wasn’t until one day when he was 15 years old that he knew he truly wanted to be a DJ.
“It’s a funny story, I bought this laptop and the laptop came with a Ebay symbol on it. And the first think that popped up when I opened in the little Ebay app was turntables. And then I was like ‘man it would be sweet to be a Dee Jay.”
Once Crampton knew he had something special he began to look for places to showcase his skills. At first he did parties and various events around the Kalamazoo area, but then one day, a family friend told him that Western Michigan was looking for a Dee Jay to perform during home games and he was able to schedule an interview.
“And I actually set my turn tables and everything up in Coach Fleck’s office. And had an actual audition I was so nervous, I messed up at the every beginning. But after that they gave me the job right on the spot."
After becoming Western’s first in-house Dee Jay for home games DJ Ill Mixx had to establish a relationship with Coach Fleck. He says the two hit it off immediately.
“Coach Fleck, that’s my homey man. Coach Fleck’s a really cool dude. He’s young, so it’s cool to sit and talk with him because he’s not that far apart in age from us.”
The next item on Crampton’s to-do list was making a song that features Coach Fleck’s “row the boat" slogan, which was no easy task since his first attempt was rejected.
“Coach Fleck was like, ‘I kind of want something different.’ And that’s when I came up with the 300 Violin Orchestra. Because you know they use that song in ESPN commercials, baseball, all that. Then I figured that was the perfect song to use and we just threw the ‘row’ vocals over that and then you have what it is today”
Although it is hard to call these things new traditions since they have only been around for a year, athletic director, Kathy Beauregard, felt as though it was Western’s time to do something different.
"It was similar to wanting to establish some traditions for our fans, for our students, and we did that. With the tradition to be different to have a Dee Jay at the games.”
Whether it is a Dee Jay performing at home games, or the crowd participating in rowing the WMU ship, Western Michigan officials hope that these traditions will help with boosting attendance and morale at home games, but only time will tell if these new traditions will stick around and become permanent.