Braeden Lee Brettin carried by Seth James Thompson while wearing their "little" and "big" bear jerseys. (Sara Lafkir)
Braeden Lee Brettin carried by Seth James Thompson while wearing their "little" and "big" bear jerseys.

Sara Lafkir

Big Bear, Little Bear

Maniacs form strong bond

March 30, 2016

What’s in a name?

For senior Mercer Maniacs members Braden Brettin and Seth Thompson, it’s a symbol of an unbreakable friendship and years of shared memories.

The two formed a strong bond while participating in the Mercer Maniacs during the football season of their sophomore year. Ever since, Brettin has been the “little bear” to Thompson’s “big bear” when it comes to Mercer sporting events.

“Sophomore year, we had an opportunity to get our own jerseys with nicknames on them. So we wanted to pick something that was fun, catchy and kind of stood out,” Brettin said. “Naturally, looking at each other, we are kind of two opposites. So we kind of wanted to have nicknames that reflected Mercer as well as our different personalities.”

The two said that they have both formed many friendships as members of the Mercer Maniacs. They didn’t always have such a solid friend group, however.

When Thompson was first starting out at Mercer, he was a commuter student who didn’t have many opportunities to find friends.

“When I came and joined the Maniacs, that’s when I started making friends,” Thompson said. “Brady [Brettin] became one of my best friends there.”

Braeden Lee Brettin carried by Seth James Thompson while wearing their "little" and "big" bear jerseys.

Braeden Lee Brettin carried by Seth James Thompson while wearing their “little” and “big” bear jerseys.

Thompson and Brettin sport their matching jerseys when they attend games together and cheer from the student section. They both view it as a display of their friendship.

“Sometimes I’ll pick [Brady] up and let him sit on my shoulders when we are trying to distract other teams. Because, you know, he’s my little cub,” Thompson said. “We’ve tried to show off our jerseys to get free doughnuts, but it hasn’t worked out yet. Maybe it will work when we come back as alumni.”

Their bond dates back to when the Mercer Maniacs were in, what Brettin calls “a state of infancy.”

“We didn’t really have very many people coming back then,” Brettin said. “[The Maniacs] have ended up being really more of a community of friends than I ever thought it would be. We all found a common love in kind of supporting our fellow classmates and peers.”

As graduation creeps closer, Thompson and Brettin are preparing to take a step back from their involvement with the Maniacs.

“We hope that whoever follows in our footsteps after we are gone can bring the same intensity that we like to bring to sporting events,” Brettin said.

Thompson agrees.

“We have a lot of seniors leaving this year,” Thompson said. “I’m kind of hoping [the newer members] can come up with some creative stuff. It would be great to see more core members, who are always at everything, helping out.”

Thompson and Brettin said they are fortunate to have found a friendship that stemmed from shared interests. They have some advice for underclassmen who are looking to have the same experience.

“You shouldn’t need to change who you are in order to fit in with any particular group or organization. Go out and find the things you like,” Brettin said. “You’ll find people there who share the same interest. That’s how you make friendships that will carry on past that organization.”

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