Tulsa Shock Fans Are Keeping the Faith

Associate Editor

TULSA SHOCK ZEALOTS: From left are Julie Wollman. Gayelynn Head, Brenda Malone, Teri Newman, Kim Michie and Christy Sanders; all members of a band of sports lovers who rarely if ever miss an opportunity to let Tulsa Shock players know they have loyal fans who love them unconditionally.

BETH TURNER for GTR Newspapers

Most sports fans would agree that the true test of fan loyalty doesn’t come when one’s team is on a winning streak or headed to the playoffs. No indeed, it comes when one’s team falls on hard times. Genuine fan loyalty persists through all the blow-out losses; the gut-wrenching, heartbreaking, close call defeats; the silly mistakes that cost the game and the all too often sinking feeling that comes when the buzzer sounds, there’s nothing to cheer about and the stands quietly empty out.

When the fair-weather fans have all gone home shaking their collective heads in dismay, true fans stand tall with heads held high and endure those hard times and temporary setbacks with eternal, unwavering hope and enthusiasm. Hope often skates on the edge of delusional optimism and always says, “next time.”

Tulsa Shock, the city’s first and only women’s professional sports franchise, came to town in 2010 and in its first two years has been on anything but a roll, unless one is referring to a downhill roll.

With their second season drawing to a close with a two year record of nine wins and 58 losses, the midseason firing of its head coach, and their major claim to fame the Women’s National Basketball Association () record for consecutive losses, you would think even the staunchest of hardcore fans would be looking for the nearest exit ramp or at least wavering just a little. But then you would be underestimating the loyalty, enthusiasm and dedication of a certain band of intrepid, unflinching Tulsa Shock fans.

“We purchased the first ten arena floor season tickets,” says Christy Sanders, the one credited as being the prime mover in forming a small band of self proclaimed “zealots” who attend every home game to cheer on the Shock from their courtside seats and, regardless of the outcome, always bring their a-game.

“Christy was onto the Shock from the get-go,” says Kim Michie, another member of the group. “When she heard rumors that a team might be coming to town she would go to all the early press conferences and keep tabs on the progress. When the time finally came and it was announced that Tulsa would have a franchise we were all on board and jumped at the chance to support the team.”

By “all” Michie is referring to a band of women who hold in common a love of sports of all kinds having played competitive team sports in high school and in some cases at the college level.

“It’s amazing how far women’s sports have come from when I played softball in college. Now we have professional women basketball players. People pay them to play and people pay to see them play. It’s wonderful and very exciting to be able to support that,” says group member Julie Woolman.

Gayelynn Head, who played college basketball on scholarship at the School of the Ozarks in Branson, Mo., was particularly happy about the city landing a women’s professional basketball team. As for the Shock’s win/loss record, “It’s a like a start up business and it takes time to get it all working right. Sure I would like to see more wins, but it’s very exciting to watch the players develop and grow and start to come together as a team.”

Michie and Woolman are co-owners of the very successful Wild Fork Restaurant located in midtown Tulsa’s Utica Square. For them being loyal fans goes beyond cheering and buying season tickets including two extra seats for introducing friends to the Shock, it means financial support in the form of sponsorships and in-kind donations when needed.

Woolman notes, “We were here for the Shock from the start. The Wild Fork was hosting Shock press parties before they were fully staffed and up and running. We’ve been there every time to serve new players and incoming staff members with a welcome dinner at the Wild Fork.”

Steve Swetoha, president and of Tulsa Shock is quick to offer praise for the Wild Fork group as well as the Tulsa Shock fan base. “It may sound strange but we truly are building a family here with our players and fans. We will continue to work on building a winning product for a group of very deserving fans. On behalf of the ownership, shareholders and staff of Tulsa Shock, we appreciate so much the level of energy, passion, support and commitment we receive from the Wild Fork group along with the rest of our season ticket holders and corporate partners, along with the entire Tulsa community.”

The two year old Tulsa Shock story is one fraught with fits and starts, mistakes, misunderstandings and midstream corrections often made in an effort to overcome the initial challenge posed when the franchise was purchased in 2010 by Tulsa Pro Hoops led by Bill Cameron and David Box of Oklahoma City along with a number of Tulsa business leaders. The team that came to Tulsa from Detroit was by all measure a shadow of the stellar team that had appeared in seven straight playoffs from 2002 to 2009 and won the 2003, 2006 and 2008 championship finals. Players thought to be under contract were not. In short, the team that came here was gutted of talent and experience. It was not the team investors thought they were getting.

According to Swetoha, visiting teams are very impressed with the Tulsa fan base. “They see the enthusiasm and energy and believe me they hear them. I had a visiting player tell us when we turn this around and fill the arena they could blow the top off this place. We agreed with her.”

For those still thinking Tulsa won’t support women’s basketball, go to a Tulsa Shock game and see for yourself what real fan loyalty is all about.

Updated 09-19-2011

Back to Top


email (we never post emails)
  Textile Help

Back to Top

Contact GTR News