The COVID-19 pandemic has sidelined well-known B.C. Lions hype-man Patrick ‘Crazy P’ Thomas as professional sports leagues moved to fan-free play.
In September 2019, Thomas, 51, celebrated 15 years as the B.C. Lions superfan and told Black Press Media his goal was to eventually cheer at a Canucks game. He didn’t have to wait long because shortly after, he was called in for an interview with the team’s staff.
“They needed someone to rile up the crowd and someone referred me” Thomas explained.
As a lifelong Canucks fan, cheering at Rogers Arena in front of NHL teams was “a dream come true” for Thomas. The first few games were fantastic, he said, adding that he was able to get the arena “roaring” which in turn got the team fired up.
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Like the players, Crazy P feeds off the crowd as he hops around, waving his arms and bellowing chants that carry across the stadium. He attributes much of his cheering persona to his former Saanich Hornets football coach, Roy Vollinger, who died in June at 78.
Thomas played for the Hornets in Glanford Park some 44 years ago under Vollinger’s tutelage. The coach’s commanding presence, booming voice and overflowing energy inspired teamwork and passion among the young athletes, said Thomas.
“Crazy P was born here in Glanford Park,” Thomas said, gesturing around the field now used for soccer. He would rush the field after a game, cheering and shouting chants, not unlike those he uses now to rile the crowds at Lions and Canucks games.
Cheering for hockey is different from cheering for football, but he quickly hit his stride and cheered at 35 Canucks games – while also cheering at B.C. Lions games, which required a lot of energy drinks and Tylenol – before the season was cut short by the pandemic.
He’s hopeful that things will return to normal soon so fans can get back to stadiums – with cleaner hands and social distancing.
“I miss the people most. We need that connection as humans,” Thomas said, noting that this would have been his 16th season with the B.C. Lions and he’s known some fellow fans since the beginning.
“We’re family and that’s the part that really hurts,” he said while scrolling through photos of himself posing with other fans in team gear.
Thomas hopes there will be some opportunity for Crazy P to return this season.
“I’m so looking forward to next year. This is my calling.”
In the meantime, Thomas is looking for other opportunities to bring out the Crazy P persona and invites anyone running pandemic-friendly sporting events to reach out to him via Instagram, @crazyp44.