Andrew Eck, a member of Mercer Maniacs and an avid Mercer Bears fan, started his time as a Mercer Bear earlier than most. His older brother began attending Mercer in 2009, and this began Eck’s true love for the school and its athletics.
“I’ve been going to Mercer Basketball games since I was a junior in high school when my brother Kevin was a freshman here in 2009,” said Eck. “I’d spend the night in Plunkett with him, sit in on a couple of classes and then go to the game that night. It just felt like home.”
Eck started attending Mercer in 2011 with the dreams of becoming a mechanical engineer and continuing his love for the Bears. Because of his initial exposure to the program, Eck continued to cheer for and support the Mercer Men’s Basketball Team alongside his brother. The team has remained to hold a special place in his heart throughout the years.
“My favorite sport would have to be men’s basketball just because of the backstory that I’ve been involved in,” said Eck.
During his sophomore year, Eck decided to join the organization now known as the Mercer Maniacs. Now, Eck holds an executive position in the Maniacs.
“Currently, I’m the Vice President of Finance and Operations for the Maniacs,” said Eck. “It is behind the scenes work to support the rest of the executives, which have done a great job this year.”
Although this type of organization has been around for a number of years, people actually started noticing the Maniacs during March Madness of last year. The entire country was pleasantly surprised with the overwhelming support that the Maniacs and the University offered in the NCAA tournament, especially against the Duke Blue Devils.
“Last year, one of our main goals was just to get people to learn the fight song,” said Eck. “Little did we know, we would be a face of the University during the NCAA tournament.”
Eck was one of the many Mercer Bears who traveled to Raleigh, N.C., to cheer on the team, but his favorite memory from the trip differs from most students. While he was thrilled for the team’s win over Duke, he found a more meaningful memory on the trip.
“My fondest memory would not be when we beat Duke, even though that was great. It was after we lost to the University of Tennessee at the NCAA tournament and we made it back to the bus waiting on the bus drivers,” said Eck. “I’ve never felt so proud of our school then. Everyone was in good spirits and even started different Mercer chants. It was a one of a kind experience.”
Along with his appreciation for the men’s basketball team, Eck also appreciates all that Bob Hoffman has done for the Maniacs and the university as a whole.
“Coach Hoffman is definitely my favorite coach because he always has Mercer’s best interest at heart. He funded, out of pocket, Hoffman Hooligans when it was just getting started and was one of the initial leaders of creating Mercer spirit,” said Eck. “To be a Mercer Bear is to be a part of a family that will stand by you and support you to do great things and make a meaningful impact.”
Because Eck has been a part of the organization since its start as Hoffman’s Hooligans, he has seen the Maniacs get bigger and better throughout the years. He believes that the Maniacs has grown into an organization that represents Mercer in all the right ways.
“The beauty of Mercer Maniacs is that it highlights what Mercer students are: a strong community that is smart and classy, yet not above going crazy for their team,” said Eck.
While the organization has come a long way, Eck believes that it can go one step further by expanding its support for all Mercer teams.
“I would love to see Mercer Maniacs expand its support for other sports in upcoming years. We’ve gotten an unfair reputation for not caring about other sports… particularly women’s basketball, but the truth is that we are understaffed with only 8 executives that volunteer their time,” said Eck. “The question shouldn’t be ‘what can maniacs do for this sport’ but rather ‘what can I do to help this sport.’ We would be glad to take in people who want to promote another sport. We’ll give them funds and support to do so.”