When Erica Johnson approached the free throw line, The Convo crowd grew silent.
Only the bounce of the ball was heard before Johnson’s free throw attempt. But as her arms started to rise above her dreadlocks, so did a noise from behind Bowling Green’s bench.
“YEYEYEYEYEYEYE,” a fan decked out in orange and brown screeched as the ball soared into the basket.
The noise pierced the ears of fans in attendance. It was strange, loud and distracting.
“Sit down, and shut up,” a peeved percussion player yelled.
Johnson made both her free throws to add on to what was a 22-point performance during Ohio’s 79-69 win over Bowling Green on Saturday. Johnson seemed unfazed during the game, but she admitted later that the noise stuck with her.
“I made the free throw, but it worked,” Johnson said. “It distracted me. Usually I tone out everything, but that got me.”
It only took a few milliseconds for the sound waves of the most annoying sound in The Convo to reach Johnson’s ears, but in reality, that noise was on a 15-year journey.
Julie Trice is a basketball mom. Her five kids all play the sport, and her husband, Travis Sr., has coached some of the best AAU talents that Ohio has to offer.
She’s been to hundreds of basketball games, and whether it were games in East Lansing, Michigan, to watch Travis Jr. play for Michigan State, or Madison, Wisconsin, to watch D’Mitrik ball out for the Badgers, Julie is going to be there loud and proud for her children.
That’s why, on her 46th birthday, Julie woke up in her Huber Heights’ home, threw an orange and brown BGSU tee shirt over a white pullover and made the two-and-a-half-hour trip to watch her daughter, Olivia, play against the Bobcats.
It was only three minutes into the game when Johnson walked up to the line for Ohio’s first free throw attempt. The atmosphere was light. Bowling Green and Ohio have had some back-and-forth meetings in the past, but fans were cheery as Ohio jumped out to an early lead.
Trice was about to change that.
“YEYEYEYEYEYE,” the noise shot out from the back of her throat.
Fans looked to each other in disbelief. Was that a machine? A dying animal? Whatever it was, it was aggravating. It only took one time to irk the eardrums of the Bobcat faithful. They had just been introduced to the “Trice Tribal Call.”
“I’ve been doing it since my oldest was in middle school, so I’ve been doing this for over 15 years,” Trice said.
When she used to sport her green and white at Michigan State games, the Spartan fanbase called it the “Catcall,” but Trice and her sister, Amy Gibson, agreed that the name didn’t suit their unique racket.
“That’s our tribal call, man,” Amy said.
Once she had the chance to warm up her vocal cords, she shot out the noise effortlessly and frequently. After anything positive for the Falcons — layups, 3-pointers, foul calls — the noise of the Trice family tribal call followed.
The Convo was not amused.
“That’s so annoying,” a fan yelled.
“Go home,” someone chimed in.
“Is she drunk?” one Bobcat diehard asked.
No one could’ve known it was simply the noise of a mother supporting her child. All they knew was that she was about to get a dose of her own medicine.
That’s why when Falcon forward Kadie Hempfling went to the line a few minutes later, the Athens remix of the Trice family tribal call soon followed.
“YEYEYEYEYEYE,” the crowd shouted.
The noise may or may have not made Hempfling miss her second attempt. That’s up for debate. What’s not up for discussion, however, is whose noise sounded better.
“I got it on Snapchat when they tried to imitate me,” Trice said. “But as I always say, ‘often imitated, never duplicated.’”
The back and forth between The Convo crowd and Julie was fun for her. She said it was the best time she’s had with it at a game. In the second half of the Bobcats’ win, Julie settled for claps but still would break out the call every now and then just to let everyone know she was still there.
Ultimately, it was an eventful start to Trice’s birthday. She didn’t get to see her daughter’s team pull off the upset win, but being surrounded by family and friends as they headed to enjoy some fine Athens Thai Cuisine was worth a cheer of celebration.