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Saturday, Sep 25, 2021

Mr. Roberts goes to SoCon

When the Mercer Maniacs won the SoCon tournament’s “Most Valuable Fan” competition two weeks ago, they were given one free ticket to the SoCon tournament as a reward -- and they knew exactly who they wanted to give it to.

Robert Swanagan is a chef in the Fresh Food Company who, after he clocks out of the cafeteria, makes a point to see every sporting event that he can lay his eyes on.

“We figured it would be a great idea to give it to Robert because he goes to all the events,” said Timothy Lewis, a member of the Mercer Maniacs Executive Committee.

“Not just basketball but women's basketball, lacrosse, women's lacrosse, football, volleyball... I mean, you name it, (Robert) is there,” Lewis said. “He lives, breathes, eats Mercer sports, and we figured it would just be a good ‘thank you’ for him.”

The trip included a free hotel stay and tickets to the tournament games, and the Mercer Maniacs internally raised money to ensure that Swanagan’s food and travel expenses were covered as well.

“Monday, when I found out, I packed my stuff, and I'm ready to go,” Swanagan said, laughing. “I'm ready to go, I really am.”

He said that he was thrilled by the opportunity to go watch the Bears play at the SoCon tournament.

“It just makes me almost teary-eyed because, you know, the kids needed to make me feel that good?” he said. “To just go above and beyond just to get me there… Oh man, I'm just so excited.”

Swanagan has been working at Mercer for almost five years, and ever since he started, he’s made a point to support Mercer Athletics. He said that his favorite sport to watch is football -- he used to play football, as well as wrestle and play tennis -- but he makes a point to see every game, match and meet that he can.

“This week, I've been to softball and lacrosse,” he said. “Last week, I went to two lacrosse games and softball. Basketball. Baseball. I’ve been to sand volleyball. Volleyball. Tennis. Oh man... just about every sport that they have on campus...”

He said that he’s never been able to see any of the away games before.

“I wanted to go see them play in the ASun championship last year,” he said, “but I wasn't able because I was working. But we got to see it on television, and it was great to watch it in the caf on the TV.”

For Swanagan, it’s not just about the love of the game -- it’s about encouraging the athletes, as well as the rest of the student body.

“I just wanted to be there for the guys and girls, you know?” he said. He said that he makes a point to support all of the students on campus, whether it’s behind the counter in the cafeteria or in the stands at their game.

“I treat every one of ‘em like they're my own kids,” he said.

He said that he understands the pressures that they face, both on and off the field, and that he thrives on being there for them.

“I look forward to being here everyday,” he said. “I really do.”




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