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Basketball fans camp out in ‘Breytopia’

Chris Hine | Monday, February 11, 2008

They called it Breytopia.

Named for Notre Dame’s men’s basketball coach Mike Brey, Breytopia was the campsite set up by members of the Leprechaun Legion on Thursday night near Gate 11 of the Joyce Center. Approximately 50 students camped out in anticipation of Notre Dame’s game against Marquette on Saturday.

Senior Kyle Miller, who helped organize Breytopia, said he and 15 other fans started camping out Thursday and were joined by more on Friday.

Brey said most Breytopians are dedicated fans who having been following the team for years.

“That’s a corps of guys that has been coming to games for a while. They know our team sometimes better than me,” Brey said. “When I go over there, I have to really be ready. They fire some good questions.”

Breytopia had all the necessities of any campsite – blankets, cushions, pillows and water. But Breytopians also brought their laptops to keep busy while they waited for the opening tip, which came at noon on Saturday.

Once in Breytopia, campers could not leave without losing their spot, although Miller said there was one exception to that rule.

“The only excuse for not being here is to go to class,” Miller said. “Otherwise you pretty much have to be here the whole time, but if you have class, we’ll let that slide.”

Gate 11 was strategically chosen as the campsite due to its proximity to warm air vents. The Breytopians used these vents – along with body warmth from their fellow campers – to keep as warm as possible on Friday, which had a high temperature of 37 degrees and a low temperature of 26.

“[The vents are] slightly warmer than out there, but still kind of cold,” Miller said. “And it’s been crowded.”

But how warm you were in Breytopia also depended on where you slept, as some vents did not work as well as others.

“There was one vent that was freezing cold,” sophomore Andrew Kovach said.

Throughout Friday, Breytopians kept Irish fans updated on their status with online posts on the Web site ndnation.com.

Some members of the Web site, along with Sbarro and Brey himself, brought food and drinks for the campers. Brey visited with the Breytopians on Friday and said he hopes the bug that is running through his team right now didn’t affect the campers.

“I got them some pizza, hung out with them. I saw that line outside of my office,” Brey said. “The camp-out guys are awesome. I hope they don’t have the flu from being out there so long.”

During the game, many campers painted their chest black with green lettering that spelled out “Go Irish Breytopia.”

Freshman Blair Rasmus was the person who dubbed the campsite “Breytopia.”

“It’s just a good feeling that we’re overcome with, this feeling of Breytopia,” Rasmus said.

But the term Breytopia is something that both Brey and his wife, Tish, are very familiar with.

“That’s funny because Tish says living with me is like that,” Brey said. “She said it’s been twenty-four years of Breytopia.”

The Breytopians watched Notre Dame defeat Marquette 86-83 on Saturday and improve to 8-2 in the Big East, one half game behind conference leader Georgetown.