When it comes to FGCU athletics, there are fans and then there are Dirty Birds — those high-spirited students who shout, stomp, cheer, sing, jump, yell, sometimes dress up and often hold up oversized head photos of hoops stars such as Christian Terrell, Brandon Goodwin, Zach Johnson, China Dow and Taylor Gradinjan.
But even among those most-super Eagle fans, one Bird is dirtier than them all: Patrick Clines. The senior journalism major seems to make it to just about every athletic contest FGCU teams play except for cross country (“You can’t see much of the race,” he says) and golf (“Because I can’t cheer loud”).
Otherwise, you can expect to see Clines cheering on the Eagles from the front of the student section, unless he’s called upon to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner,” which he has done on occasion. He doesn’t consider himself a budding vocal star but did sing in his high school choir.
Why is he so involved in the university’s athletics?
“I have sports blood in my background,” he says. “My dad was a pro baseball player with Pittsburgh. I played high school basketball.”
Originally from Chicago, Clines lived most of his life in Bradenton, attending the State College of Florida in his hometown first, then spending a year working before he transferred to FGCU in 2015-16.
He quickly became active here, attending classes, of course, going to church on Sunday mornings and Tuesday nights, getting involved in intramural sports, writing poetry and prose and being the best Dirty Bird he could be.
“I love to bring a lot of energy to the athletic events,” he says. “I try to tell fans, ‘Don’t stop cheering, don’t give up on the team, keep pushing until you can’t push anymore.’”
Clines will graduate in May and plans to stay in the area, where he hopes to get an internship with one of the local daily newspapers.
Meanwhile, this weekend he’ll be – where else? – in California, faithfully cheering on the women’s basketball team as it takes on the Missouri Tigers in the first round of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament.
What makes FGCU basketball so great?
Sure, it’s the players, but it’s more than that. It’s the coaches and the cheerleaders. It’s Azul and his hip moves. It’s the pep band and the Dancing E’Gals and, of course, the shouting, stamping, screaming, leaping Dirty Birds who ramp up the energy in the Nest. This is part of a series of profiles of some of those who put their hearts and souls into making Eagles basketball the force it has become.