Ride along: Spider retirees showcase dedicated team spirit

March 3, 2023


As young parents, Dean and Carol Decker enjoyed bringing their daughter, Leah, to basketball games on campus. They could cheer for the Spiders and didn’t have to worry about how loud their baby would be among the crowd noise. Leah is now grown, but the love of attending games has not changed for Dean, a retired biology professor, and Carol, a retired UR staff member. What has changed is the Deckers transportation to the game.

The Deckers are part of a group from Lakewood retirement community, who travel by shuttle the short distance — 6.8 miles to be precise — from the center to the University of Richmond when there is a home men’s basketball game.

The bus is filled with residents who are UR alumni or retirees ready to cheer for their beloved Spiders. A diehard group of about 20 attend as many games as they can, some of whom have been in the stands since their days on campus.

Wayne and Em Key were lab partners in a genetics class at UR and decided to become “partners for life.” They have attended games for 36 years.

Another resident who cheers for the Spiders is David Burhans, UR’s chaplain from 1974-2004 and a member of the Athletics Hall of Fame. Emily Johnston, class of 1955, attends games with her brother (class of 1950) and her son (class of 1981) — that’s 70 years of basketball games.

“Lakewood is a community of amazing people, so many of whom have long-lasting ties with the University of Richmond,” said Hillary Winkelmann, director of sales and marketing for Lakewood. “Attending Spiders basketball games and cheering for their team brings so much joy to our residents. You will never go to a home game without seeing the Lakewood bus. It’s so fun to see our residents’ love and loyalty to UR in action!”  

From ages 2 to 92, there’s something for everyone at Spider basketball games, a fact this group of retired Spiders proves every home game.