Tradition abounds in college football, with things like the lunch pail at Virginia Tech, the rock at Clemson, Chief Osceola at Florida State and a plethora of others, and Old Dominion has their own. Meet “Juice Man”
Ray Wittersheim, better known to ODU coaches, fans, and players as “Juice Man” is an integral part of each ODU home game, and has been since the program’s rebirth in 2009 and it all started with a series of speeches given by head coach Bobby Wilder when he was hired.
Standing on the sidelines of the new Kornblau field at S.B. Ballard stadium, Juice Man looked on, watching the Monarchs’ second scrimmage in their new stadium with anticipation as a new season, and a new era in ODU football sits just two weeks away.
“Back when Bobby Wilder was hired, when he was starting to do the recruiting of him team and everything he was doing the circuit, doing all the fraternal organizations in the local area,” Juice Man says.
“I caught him at Norfolk Sports Club, at the Norfolk Kiwanis Club and both speeches he emphasized two things that he pushes for, one was PMA (positive mental attitude) and the second was, whatever you do each and every day, you “bring the juice” so I ended up hearing the juice comment twice and when we started playing football the team started the “Monarch March,” Juice Man elaborated.
For those not in the know, the Monarch March is the tradition of ODU players and coaches walking through campus together before kickoff, arriving at the open end zone of the stadium where their portal to the field awaits.
“I ended up right by the Monarch head by the gate and had a juice container, a single juice container and it kicked off with the kids to bring the juice, every player as they come by would end up tapping on the juice container, over the years, I’ve just ended up having the nickname “The Juice Man” and I’ve grown to the point where I have five containers instead of one,” Wittersheim said.
“Everybody knows him as “The Juice Man,” Wilder said. “Even the new kids ask “Why are they calling him the Juice Man” and all the older kids tell them the story, he stands right here when we come in on the Monarch March every game with his Tropicana juice bringing the juice to get the kids excited. He sits right above the tunnel, they feel his energy, they feel his passion.”
“When we won the Bahamas Bowl in 2016, that next spring in 2017 he paid to buy all the players the monogrammed football that displayed that win and that game as something they will keep forever, it’s who he is, he is a great friend of the program, everybody loves him and he is always positive,” Wilder explained.
“It’s like a dream come true in many ways,” Wittersheim said about the new Kornblau Field at S.B. Ballard Stadium.
“When we first started and made the decision to bring football to ODU we were very excited about it. Of course, out of the gate you wonder, we are going to bring football back and you are always hopeful that you will bring a great product back, the product that coach Wilder and the coaches have put on this location has been unbelievable and to end up going ahead and tearing down Foreman Field and what we see standing here right now is a miracle.”
“I’ve got two kids of my own but I see these kids come in and redshirt for a year and then they play four years so I get to spend five years with them, I just try to be there for them and it’s almost like I have a lot of sons. I’m so proud of them. I’m just happy they go along with the Juice Man and feel that the Juice Man is part of the tradition here as well, it helps me stay younger,” Juice Man said.
Fans like Juice Man are the reason this new stadium has come together. The fans at ODU are dedicated, they are going to pack this place every week, it’s a special feeling as you walk around the stadium with the TowneBank video board and look up at the end zone right above the tunnel the Monarchs will walk through on August 31st when Norfolk State makes the five-mile journey to ODU.