Meet the Husker Super Fan and his super fans

Feb. 23, 2024, noon ·

Kevin Coleman: Husker Super Fan
Kevin Coleman is not the typical Husker fan. Depending on the season, the Lincoln native and UNL alum attends as many as eight Big Red contests a week, regardless of the sport. He was at the Devaney Sports Center to cheer on the women gymnastics on Jan. 27, 2024. Photo by Eric Gregory for the Flatwater Free Press

Maybe you hear him first.

That voice echoing through the arena, pausing for the refrain, fist in the air.

Goooo! Bi-i-ggg! Re-e–e-d!!!

Go! Big! Red!

Maybe you spot him first. Scanning the crowd at a basketball game. At a tennis meet. At gymnastics. At wrestling. At baseball. Swimming. Soccer. A Saturday softball doubleheader.

At Memorial Stadium, his curly red wig a beacon among ball caps and corn heads.

Darcie Brink searches for him at volleyball matches; a pre-game twist on “Where’s Waldo?”

Where is Super Fan hiding tonight?

A few years back, the man in the red jumpsuit took a seat in Brink’s section.

“We fell in love with him,” she said. “The energy just falls off of him.”

The chants. The cheers. The distinctive voice. The moves when the cameras pan his way.

For faithful Husker fans, Kevin Coleman is a talisman. He’s the human horseshoe over the tunnel.

You settle into your seat. Watch the players warm up. Wait for the tipoff, the takedown, the kickoff, the first serve, first pitch and … that guy.

***

Coleman is early for his job at the Lewis Training Table, like always.

A faded Husker cap and jeans have replaced the Orphan Annie wig and Halloween store red jumper he wears on game days.

The 33-year-old finishes a bowl of Lucky Charms and turns his attention to the Adidas-clad breakfast crowd.

Hey, Adam. (Track and field.)

Morning, Asher. Morning, A.J. (Men’s gymnastics.)

Hey, Genesis. (Women’s gymnastics. “They lost to Michigan Sunday, but they did their best.”)

Morning, Derek. (Football.)

Hey, Bella. Hey, Brooke. Hey, Kaitlyn. (Softball, softball, softball.)

Morning, Kennedi. (Volleyball.)

The student-athletes acknowledge their biggest fan with a smile, a nod, the occasional shoutout.

How you doing, Kevin?

Coleman has an answer when they do: “Living life to the best of my ability and keeping it real as a Husker each and every day.”

Gospel truth.

“It’s a way of life for me,” he says. “It takes away the pressure of every day.”

***

Super Fan grew up in Lincoln alongside his twin sister, Kelly. He lost his mom nearly 10 years ago and has missed her every single day since. (“She was his person,” Kelly says.)

In 2014, he graduated from UNL with a degree in philosophy — he favors the existentialists — and plenty of cheering experience in the student section. (The kind that involved body paint and the occasional kilt.)

For the last decade, he’s pivoted from convenience store clerk to bookstore checker to Devaney Center janitor to training table dishwasher.

Kevin Coleman washes dishes
Kevin Coleman washes dishes at the Lewis Training Table in South Stadium on Feb. 2, 2024. He works the lunch and dinner shift four days a week and breakfast on Friday. The job affords him an opportunity to share his unyielding encouragement with student-athletes. Photo by Eric Gregory for the Flatwater Free Press

He works the lunch and dinner shift four days a week and breakfast on Friday. It’s not his dream job – that would be a gig as Herbie Husker – but it’s close.

“Being around the coaches and players and saying ‘Hi’ to everyone, it’s a good thing for me.”

Coleman will tell you he was diagnosed with autism, anxiety and depression shortly after college graduation. He will tell you his voice is a gift and that supporting the Huskers is a calling.

He will also tell you that if you struggle, too, don’t despair – a philosophy he extends to his Huskers.

“I always try to stay positive by saying things like, ‘You did a fantastic job. Play with heart and pride and you will succeed.’”

Naysayers bother him: “That’s not what being a Husker fan is all about. A Husker fan sticks by the team no matter if they win or lose.”

Former volleyball standout Gina Mancuso (now Prososki) vouches for his loyalty and his character.

“He is relentlessly supportive,” she says. “He’s not afraid to talk about his struggles, but what is important is he’s always working on them.”

The pair met in 2009 when she was a freshman, and fans could mingle on the Coliseum court with players after matches.

They keep up via text messages and occasional lunch or dinner dates. She attended his mom’s funeral and he befriended her mom and sisters, too, sending them poetic birthday messages on Facebook. (Super Fan has 1,700 friends, many of them athletes.)

Supporters can’t hang out with volleyball players after games anymore, but Super Fan finds a way.

“He waits for me after I meet with the team and before I do radio,” Coach John Cook says. “We do a fist bump; he is always just there with positive encouragement.”

Super Fan comes early and stays late, no matter the sport.

He’s first in the ballpark when gates open at Bowlin Stadium, wishing the softball players and coaches well. After a game last fall, the team presented Coleman with a framed photo: Super Fan caught in mid-cheer on a sunny afternoon, autographed by every player.

Your positive attitude is contagious!

Greatest fan ever!

Thank you for always supporting us!

Kevin Coleman, dressed as Super Fan, holds a signed photo from the Husker softball team thanking him for being their biggest supporter.
Kevin Coleman, dressed as Super Fan, holds a signed photo from the Husker softball team thanking him for being their biggest supporter. “These players are his people and they know it and that’s why they love him,” said Jon Squier, whose daughter Abbie plays on the team. Courtesy photo

His dad was there taking photos. Kelly was there, too, and a host of players and softball parents, including Jon Squier, whose daughter Abbie plays left field.

Coleman sits with the parents along the third baseline, Squier says. Part of their pack.

“He lives and dies with those games. These players are his people and they know it and that’s why they love him.”

Squier and his wife, Michelle, have season tickets to women’s basketball and attend plenty of Husker sporting events, keeping their ears tuned for the sound of a certain fan.

“We always hear him and say, ‘There’s Kevin.’”

***

Some people might just see that crazy hair and look past the person.

They would be missing out.

They might know him as That Guy in the Wig. The Dancing Man. Super Fan.

Kelly Coleman knows him as a fabulous brother.

“He is one of the sweetest people you’ll ever meet,” she says. “He doesn’t have a mean bone in his body.”

Kelly Coleman works in the office for students with disabilities. She is blind, so her brother drives her to work. He takes her to Omaha to visit their dad and stepmom. He watches her cats when she’s on vacation.

“He’s always there when you need him,” she says. “I mean, if there’s a Husker game on you might have to finagle around that.”

On Facebook, he cheers on his teams and showers his many friends with love: You have amazing and incredible hearts, minds and souls full of love, light happiness, hope and pure gold both inside and out … I don’t know where I would be without any of you in my life.

He is so genuinely kind and caring, says longtime volleyball friend Prososki.

“He lives in a world of optimism, which is so unique nowadays.”

***

It’s never hard to find Super Fan in action.

He’s there under the basket at Pinnacle Bank Arena, watching the women trounce Michigan in mid-January, on his feet when the Dance Cam pans the crowd.

Giving the ref a little grief: “That’s a carried ball, Ref, that’s a carried ball.”

Giving the players a little love: Money ball! And one!

He’s there at Devaney to watch gymnastics, playing air trumpet along with the band, waiting to slap hands after the victory.

Kevin Coleman plays along with the band
Kevin Coleman plays along with the band at the Devaney Sports Center on Jan. 27, 2024. Coleman, with his Orphan Annie wig and Halloween store red jumper, is a familiar site for fellow Husker fans. Photo by Eric Gregory for the Flatwater Free Press

He’s there at center court in the Dillon Tennis Center, shouting encouragement: Go, Isa! Go, Ana! Go, Maya! Making calls before the line judge does. Waiting for a break in the action to stand for his signature cheer.

Coleman knows sports. His mom played volleyball and basketball in college. He took up baseball as a kid.

Not only is he a huge fan, but he’s a knowledgeable fan, says Keith Zimmer, associate athletic director for Life Skills.

“He truly pours his heart and soul into each Husker game.”

In late February, Coleman headed to Omaha to watch Prososki’s new pro volleyball team, the Supernovas, after first cheering at men’s basketball and a pair of gymnastics meets Saturday.

An average weekend for the far-from-average fan. Depending on the season, he’s at six, seven, eight Big Red contests a week.

“He works for me so he can attend Husker games,” jokes his boss Lisa Kopecky, director of performance nutrition for student-athletes.

And he works hard at the training table. Takes pride in his job keeping the Huskers well-fed.

“He’s just ecstatic to be there,” she says. “Being able to congratulate the players and coaches on a win or encourage them on an upcoming event.”

In turn, like so many other Nebraska fans who have crossed paths with the Super Fan, his boss does the same for him when she takes a seat at a Husker game.

“The first thing I do is search for Kevin, so when he gets a chant going, I can support him.”

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