KU’s annual Late Night in the Phog brings with it the excitement of a new basketball season. And when Kansas Athletics needed a high-energy host to keep the crowd of 16,300 buzzing, they turned to KU Alumni’s own Danny Woods.
Woods, j’13, helps manage the 50-plus networks of Jayhawk alumni across the country with a level of enthusiasm worthy of the Phog. We sat down with him to hear about his experience on James Naismith Court.
How did you get the job?
I was approached by KU Athletics around the time of the KU vs. Rutgers football game. They asked if I would be interested in doing pregame PA announcements for Gameday on the Hill, a tailgating experience on Campanile Hill with food, beverages, retail and live music before football games. Nothing was mentioned about Late Night at this time, but I think it was a test run. Athletics was just making sure I could, as the saying goes, walk and chew gum at the same time. I was offered the emcee position the following week.
How much freedom were you given?
Working with the Athletics marketing office was great. Leading up to Late Night they provided me with a script and a timeline of events. But they told me, “We want you to be yourself out there. Change up any of the language so it feels comfortable and natural to you.” It was a great feeling to have the framework of the house, but then be able to furnish it myself.
How did you think your performance went?
Well, I didn’t get fired yet, so that’s always a plus! But for real, it was awesome. To be honest, I was super nervous. Late Night is a huge night for KU students, alumni and fans, and I just wanted to make sure they had a great experience. There are definitely opportunities for me to grow and make future emcee performances better. And yes, this is definitely me openly lobbying to be the emcee for future Late Nights.
What was your favorite part of the night?
Can I take the easy road out and say the whole thing? This was actually the first Late Night I have been to since I was a student. When I worked in the Office of Admissions, Late Night always fell during travel and recruitment season. *cough cough* Any prospective students out there reading this make sure you apply by the Nov. 1st scholarship deadline! And since I have been at the Alumni Association, I have always been out in one of our national networks during Late Night. So just having the opportunity to be in Allen Fieldhouse during Late Night was the best.
Most importantly: Did you get to meet 2 Chainz?
2 Chainz and I got to be in the same room and we definitely breathed the same air. I did not, however, formally meet him. I was afraid if I actually tried to introduce myself to him before Late Night that I would pass out from excitement.
It’s been 25 years since the 1993-94 basketball season, when Jacque Vaughn introduced himself to the world with an overtime buzzer-beater against Indiana. For some Jayhawks, their experience that season was special not just for what happened on the court, but also in the stands.
Jeremy Boldra spent his sophomore year in the stands as Kramer, Jerry’s goofy neighbor in the hit television series “Seinfeld”. What began as an idea for a Halloween costume put Boldra, d’97 g’03, into Captain Jayhawk-levels of fame for one fun season.
We could try to tell the story, but perhaps it’s best to let the man himself share how Kramer came to be.
An idea is born
The idea came to me when a roommate saw me with my hair standing up and told me I looked like Kramer. At the time I had no idea who that was, so he introduced me to “Seinfeld,” which we soon were all watching together every Thursday night. As we watched, I knew I could totally play that character. So I decided I’d do it for a Halloween party my sophomore year. That fall, I saw an ad in the Daily Kansan for a sitcom character contest at Late Night with Roy Williams, which was the night before Halloween.
When I got to the Fieldhouse, I knew I had to make an entrance like Kramer always would. So I swung the door open and stormed in, making so much noise that all the contestants that were already there turned and said “Kramer!” One of the judges literally leaps over a table and tells me “You’re in!”
So it’s time for the contest and we’re in the hallway where the team comes out. They called my name, and I had a plan. I just jogged out there, and once I made it to the free throw line, I wiped out. I hit the floor, then got up shaking, then strutting out to half court. By the time I got there, fans were chanting “Kramer! Kramer!” The chanting went on over the next contestant. One contestant got booed, another got no response. I made it to the finals, the Kramer chants started again, and it was a blast.
Kramer lives on
The next night was Halloween, and we were talking with some cheerleaders at a party who said I should dress up for home games, so after a little convincing I decided to do it.
So I dressed up as Kramer in the student section, and by the second or third game people were asking me for autographs, it was getting a little weird. So I decided to not dress up for the next game. Which was Temple, which we lost. As I was leaving, several people said to me “We lost because you didn’t dress up.” So I start dressing up again and sure enough, we go on a huge winning streak.
I only did it for that year. I had a lot of fun, but it was time. Since then, I’ve run into people who remember me from those games.
Where is Kramer now? Boldra is the superintendent at Flint Hills school district, just outside of El Dorado. Jeremy and his wife, Bryna, have two sons, Landon, 11, and Keenan, 8. This year’s Late Night in the Phog takes place Friday, Sept. 28.
It looks like a normal garage from the outside. Maybe it’s to keep the neighbors happy.
Inside, though, Rory Ramsdell’s two-year project of the ultimate KU garage is complete. His daughters now park in the middle of Allen Fieldhouse.
The big build
“I’ve envisioned this for a long time,” said Ramsdell, e’93. “I wanted to build a multipurpose garage with a gym atmosphere.”
The Shawnee resident built the entire building himself. Ramsdell drew on his experience as a mechanical engineer to design the structure, and he tried his hand at amateur photography for the Fieldhouse photos. He printed large sizes of the photos to cover the walls.
Highlights of the project include a programmable scoreboard, lockers for each family member, a TV for watch parties, and a ceiling covered in hand-sewn banners.
The Ramsdells loves hosting friends and family in the garage to watch games and entertain. Pickup games are also known to break out; there’s a hoop, plenty of balls in the lockers, and court lines painted on the concrete floor.
Allen Fieldhouse is special to plenty of Jayhawks, but Ramsdell put in time there as a student behind the scenes.
“I played baseball at KU, and my student work-study program was to do the baseball team laundry, which at the time was in the Fieldhouse. So I was there late at night doing laundry and homework, and sometimes the basketball players would ask me to rebound, maybe play 3 on 3 with them.”
Rory’s love for KU is matched by his family, especially with his daughter Raegan starting at KU in the fall.
“I’m really excited for her future, and hope she has as good of a time as I did as a student.”
The KU men’s basketball team won the 1988 NCAA Divison I Men’s Basketball Tournament on April 4, 1988. The Jayhawks defeated Big 8 foe Oklahoma 83-79 in Kansas City’s Kemper Arena. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the 1988 National Champions, we collected everything we’ve ever written about that season: the players, the fans, the students, and the history of one of the greatest runs the NCAA tournament has ever seen.
After a season filled with ups and downs, a 14th straight conference championship and a trip to the Final Four, the Jayhawks fell to the Villanova Wildcats Saturday night in the national semifinal.
KU fans gathered in San Antonio, Allen Fieldhouse, and at watch parties from coast to coast to watch the Jayhawks in the Final Four.
At the Final Four
More than 5,000 Jayhawks started their game day right outside the Alamodome for the pregame party hosted by the KU Alumni Association and Kansas Athletics. The KU band, Spirit Squad and mascots held a pep rally, with food trucks and cash bars nearby.
Back home in Lawrence
Dozens of Lawrence-area bars and restaurants hosted watch parties, but the most popular site for a big KU game remained the same. Thousands of fans flocked to Allen Fieldhouse to watch the game on the video board. Students filled the student section, and threw shredded Kansans into the air for pregame introductions.
Wherever Jayhawks may be
Alumni networks hosted more than 75 watch parties around the country. Many network leaders claimed it was their biggest turnout in years. The Denver Network alone hosted 1,000 Jayhawks at Stoney’s Bar and Grill.
Although we hate to see the season end, the Alumni Association is proud of this team, and we are always proud to be a Jayhawk.
Jayhawks, your wishes have been granted: You can watch the the Final Four with announcers who love the Jayhawks as much as you do.
When KU plays Villanova in the Final Four Saturday night, tune in to TNT to watch the Kansas TeamCast. It will feature familiar faces Dave Armstrong, Scot Pollard and Rob Riggle breaking down the action.
TeamCast presentations are telecasts tailored to the schools participating in the Final Four national semifinals. The concept brings local flavor to the game with additional cameras and team-centric replays, custom halftimes, comprehensive team and player storylines and more.
Armstrong, ’83, will serve as the play-by-play announcer, which he’s done for the Jayhawks since 1993. He’s also served in the same role for multiple professional sports teams.
Pollard, d’97, partners with Armstrong as the color analyst. He’ll provide a unique perspective after a four-year career as a member of the Kansas men’s basketball team. Pollard finished his career in KU’s top 5 in rebounds and blocked shots and spent 12 years in the NBA.
Riggle, c’93, rounds out the team by reporting from the sideline on head coach Bill Self and the Jayhawks. (No word yet on how serious the KU actor and comedian will take his job.)
The regular telecast will be available on TBS, with Villanova’s TeamCast airing on truTV. Tip is expected to be 7:49 p.m. CDT Saturday night, or 40 minutes after the conclusion of the Michigan-Loyola Chicago game which begins at at 5:09 p.m.
If Scot Pollard’s enthusiasm in a video he posted to Facebook is a preview, the trio of Jayhawks are sure to have a fun night—as will we!
Join fellow Jayhawks for a Final Four pregame party hosted by the KU Alumni Association and Kansas Athletics.
The party takes place from 1-4 p.m. on Saturday, March 31, in the parking lot of Tower of Americas, 736 Cesar E. Chavez Blvd. The parking lot is across the street from the main security entrance for the Alamodome—just look for Super Jay!
Festivities include a pep rally at 3 p.m. featuring the KU band, Spirit Squad and mascots. A beer garden, cash bars, food trucks and a DJ will also be on site. KU merchandise will be available for sale from Rally House.
Entrance to the pregame party is $10 per person. Tickets can be purchased in advance online and picked up during the following times. Tickets can also be purchased in-person.
Marriott River Center, 101 Bowie St.
Thursday, March 29: Noon-6 p.m.
Friday, March 30: 9 a.m.- 3 p.m.
Saturday, March 31: 8-11 a.m.
Remaining tickets will be sold at the entrance of the pregame party. Pregame party tickets are included in the travel packages for guests traveling with the Williams Education Fund/Kansas Athletics travel groups.
KU Alumni Association members can show their membership card at the KU Alumni table to receive a special members-only gift. Plus, enter to win a Jayhawk print by alumni artist Megh Knappenberger, f’04.
The KU basketball team will hold an open practice on Friday, March 30, from 1-1:50 p.m. at the Alamodome. The semifinal games tip off at 5:09 p.m. CDT with Loyola-Chicago taking on Michigan. The Kansas vs. Villanova game will follow at approximately 7:49 p.m. CDT.
When the KU Men’s Basketball team sent out the call, Jayhawks delivered.
After hours of pandemonium on Massachusetts Street, thousands of students, fans and alumni made the trek to Allen Fieldhouse to welcome the Final Four team home.
Fans were treated to a replay of the Elite Eight game, reliving Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk’s game-tying basket that sent the game to overtime and Malik Newman’s overtime scoring barrage to clinch a trip to San Antonio.
As the seconds ticked away on the replay, the video board transitioned to a highlight package of the game, mixed with fan videos from social media and the party on Mass Street. When the video ended with the Final Four logo, the crowd roared as the Jayhawks walked in.
With Devonte’ Graham leading the team in while holding the regional trophy, Head Coach Bill Self addressed the crowd first, asking the question everyone was thinking: “Did these guys play like men today, or what?”
Graham, Newman, and Mykhailiuk all spoke as well, thanking the fans for their support, and asking fans to continue that support at the final four.
“I hope all y’all can get to San Antonio,” Graham said, “and hopefully we can win two more for y’all. Rock Chalk.”
With a trip to the Final Four on the line, Jayhawk fans came out in full force. More than 70 watch parties around the country brought Jayhawks together in bars and restaurants from Ann Arbor to Washington, D.C. The game lived up to the hype, with KU defeating Duke in an instant classic. Check out some photos of just a few of the watch parties!
The Richmond ’Hawks wave the wheat at Carolina Ale House.
The Boise Jayhawks had a record turnout, with 35+ fans gathering to see the big game.
The Charlotte Jayhawks were deep in enemy territory, but that didn’t stop them from Rock Chalking it up after a big win over the home state’s Blue Devils!
Washington, D.C. fans fill Mackey’s for big games, but an Elite Eight game calls for a full Jayhawk takeover.
The Tampa Jayhawk Alumni Network is ready for the Final Four.
Seattle Jayhawks celebrate KU being Final Four bound!
The San Antonio Jayhawks were hopeful for a KU win, and now they get to welcome Jayhawks from everywhere to their city.
Keep an eye out for information on pep rallies and other festivities in San Antonio, as well as watch parties in a network near you! Visit our ’Hawks ’n Hoops postseason hub for more details.