*This article was originally published on March 4, 2016*
On Friday night, a palpable energy will fill the air at Matthews Arena as the men’s hockey team hosts Maine in the first round of the Hockey East playoffs. The team is on a tear, winning its past seven games, and 13 of its past 15.
But once the puck drops, another sensation will be tingling through the Northeastern faithful in attendance, one of excitement and anticipation.
“The minute the first notes drop, everyone’s face lights up and they start singing it,” says Mike Davis, BHS’16, leader of the DogHouse, the hockey student section.
Davis is describing what has become a beloved tradition at Northeastern hockey games: the NU Pep Band preforming, and students singing, “Stacy’s Mom,” a 2003 song by the band Fountains of Wayne.
Justine Newman Photography
The minute the first notes drop, everyone’s face lights up and they start singing it.”
—Mike Davis, BHS’16
Many in the Northeastern community express intrigue yet befuddlement over how this song has come to captivate the crowd at hockey games and become tradition. Count John Leonard, assistant director of bands at Northeastern, among them. “I do think that it is fascinating how this song has taken off.” As Leonard puts it, “it’s pop music, it’s peppy, it feels good to sing, and everyone just loves it.”
While the NU Pep Band was already playing “Stacy’s Mom” when Leonard arrived at Northeastern in January 2012, the song was merely among more than 60 in the rotation—hardly predictive of the cult following it has today.
Why this song catapulted to “must perform” status at hockey games may not be fully understood, but how it became a hit is a bit clearer.
During a game in the 2013-14 season, Northeastern alumnus Justin Harriman, CJ’02, was sitting in section 41 at Matthews Arena, the season ticket holder’s usual spot, when a friend told him the pep band had just played “Stacy’s Mom.” At one of the next breaks in game action, he stood up and started screaming for the pep band to play it again. At the next game, he did the same. And the game after that.
At some point during that season, ‘Stacy’s Mom’ became the song,”
It took a few games but soon enough, with help from the DogHouse joining Harriman’s calls, the pep band began working the song into its regular rotation. More students joined in singing, and the tradition grew. Fans would even replace “Go NU! Go NU!” chants with “Stacy’s Mom! Stacy’s Mom!” until the pep band played it, says NU Pep Band President Matt Tate.
Photos by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University
“At some point during that season, ‘Stacy’s Mom’ became the song,” Leonard says.
And Harriman became known as “The Stacy’s Mom Guy” at hockey games.
Harriman founded the DogHouse as a freshman in 1997. He’d go outside the residence halls on Thursday nights and bellow into a megaphone to let students know when games were being played that weekend. And at the games, he’d be working to get chants going in the DogHouse. So perhaps it’s no surprise that years later, his unbridled enthusiasm and powerful lungs served as the genesis for the “Stacy’s Mom” sensation.
“It’s my way to have a good time,” Harriman said of getting the crowd going during games. “Screaming ‘Stacy’s Mom’ to the band, it was just a lot of fun. And that’s what makes going to hockey games fun. You’re there to support the team and have a good time.”
Leonard says an unforgettable moment came during the 2014-15 season. At the Beanpot championship game at TD Garden in Boston, more than 1,000 fans belted out the lyrics, including members of the pep band once they’d finished performing the first several measures.
Go to the Pep Band’s website and the first thing you’ll see is a video of band members practicing what is dubbed as “the unofficial theme song of the NU Pep Band and NU Hockey fans everywhere.”
Tate says that the pep band, the DogHouse, and fans alike coming together to sing “Stacy’s Mom”—and other favorites like “No Diggity,” and “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” from the Disney film Mulan—has elevated the energetic and inclusive atmosphere at hockey games to new heights. The song’s popularity, he says, has strengthened the camaraderie between the pep band and DogHouse.
“I think the rise of ‘Stacy’s Mom’ a couple of years ago is what brought it to another level,” says Tate, E’16.
Adds Davis: “The DogHouse and ‘Stacy’s Mom’ are synonymous. You can’t have one and not have the other.”