The Red Brigade
Previous/other names: Varsity Mania
Prominent date(s) of activity: 1987 - present
History: The Red Brigade (originally called Varsity Mania) was founded by a student named Carl Burgess, who, upon returning to post secondary education, noted a distinct lack of a hockey fan base at UNB. Burgess met with UNB's hockey coach to discuss ways to increase school spirit at hockey games. The two men decided upon the model used by the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletics Association), who manage to sell out tickets to many collegiate games. The group's first year was so successful that in their second year Burgess established an executive committee consisting of a coordinator, media relations officer, corporate relations office, off-campus/residence relations officer, special events coordinator, team relations officer, and field manager.
Activities: When Varsity Mania was first implemented, Burgess used the pre-existing competition between two residences, the Aitken House and Bridges House, to create the initiative's main event: The Residence Challenge. The residence with the largest and rowdiest turnout at each sporting event was awarded with prizes, and the house with the highest turnout each year received a VCR. Moosehead products were also awarded for participation, at great value due to strict liquor restrictions on campus. The Red Brigade also worked to improve school spirit at UNB home matches by selling noise makers and promotional merchandise, painting fan faces, and starting a sports band called Joy Kidd. Initially there was no stage available for the band to play on, so the Red Brigade built a stage using their own time and money.
In 1989 Varsity Mania sponsored a road trip to Mount Allison University, where the UNB Red Shirts were playing against the Mounties. In conjunction with the Student Union, a travel package was arranged for interested fans that included return transportation, tickets to the event, and entry to a concert taking place after the game. Four buses carried 200 students to the event, who, at the game, demonstrated a level of school spirit that impressed the UNB athletic department.
In 2009, to get UNB's team ready for a game against Université de Moncton, the Red Brigade made a large banner, signed by all members of the Joy Kidd House, and hung the banner in the team's changing room before the game. UNB beat UdeM 3-1.
Note(s): The Red Brigade has been sponsored by various local businesses since its inception.
- Student Union, Clubs and Societies, [The Red Brigade]
- Up the Hill, 1989, p. 133.
- The Brunswickan, vol. 125, no. 14, 1991, p. 19.
- The Brunswickan, vol. 125, no. 17, 1991, p. 8.
- The Brunswickan, vol. 142, no. 15, 2009, p. 17.
© UNB Archives & Special Collections, 2014