Man Behind The Waibel Factor
phrase that's taken on a life of its own with the Minnesota faithful.
The Waibel Factor.
Jon Waibel, a junior forward from Baudette, Minn., is one of those
character guys who becomes a fan favorite for his work ethic,
desire and ability to provide what coaches refer to as intangibles.
Remember the old "NFL Today" show on CBS, when Jimmy
"The Greek" Snyder used to pick winners based on weaknesses
and strengths of the two combatants? Intangibles was one of the
categories. Put a big check next to intangibles in Waibel's column.
This being the computer age and all, hero worship has progressed
beyond a mere chant or a bedsheet-turned-banner. It's gone to
the Internet, and one of the notable web sites is www.thewaibelfactor.com,
administered by Gopher fan Joshua Fait, a 28-year-old
computer software support specialist from Minneapolis. Fait talked
about his labor of love with us, which we bring to you in this
Inside College Hockey: How many Gopher games do you
see each season? Are you a season ticket holder? Follow them on
Fait: I have attended games since the late 80's, and
only the last couple years have I been lucky enough to have season
tickets. Roadtrips I have been know to make are Madison, Duluth,
St. Cloud and Mankato.
INCH: Why Jon Waibel?
JF: I think what I wrote after we won the title last
year kind of sums up why Jon Waibel has a fan club.
you put in the hard work every single night on the ice. That kind
of effort is why we made this fan club. I think its symbolic of
how the whole team played. Not just one guy for himself, but everyone
giving their all for the team."
miss a single game his first two years at the University and came
to play hard every time out. He doesn't get a lot of the glory,
but he makes alot of good things happen on the ice.
What kind of feedback do you get from people who stumble upon
favorite Jon Waibel (photo courtesy University of Minnesota
Oddly enough, it was never meant for anyone other then the fan
club members. This whole thing just kind of took off about halfway
thru last season. I was watching the Gophers play at North Dakota
on TV (Friday). Middle of the 3rd period the camera pans the crowd,
and there is a guy wearing a homemade "Anti-Waibel"
t-shirt. We had made "Waibel Factor" T-shirts to start
the year, so this was a play on them. I don't know if Waibel saw
him or not, but Jon ends up scoring the game winner in the closing
moments the next night to cap a terrific comeback win. From that
weekend on, everyone has taken notice of Jon, the web site and
the fan club. Everything has been positive!
Has Jon seen it and, if so, what does he think?
It's my understanding that he and his family have seen the site.
They definitely know about the fan club. I think Jon kind of thinks
it's funny. They all seem to enjoy it.
Is there anything you'd like to add to the site?
I am always looking to add more content. I do all the content
myself at the moment. It would be nice to have a few stories,
maybe an interview and things like that on a regular basis.
Have you always rooted for guys who play a style of game similar
Everyone, of course, roots for the big names. But I think each
true hockey fan will always identify with one player on each year's
team whether it's pro, college, or whatever. Usually, that player
isn't the big name or the leading scorer. It's a guy who plays
the game the way you think it should be played. He doesn't get
all the glory on the stat sheet but without him, the team probably
wouldn't have the same success.
your team's Jon Waibel? Send
us an e-mail and we'll post the top vote-getters.
North Star growing up was Shane Churla. Some of my favorite Gophers
from the past are Larry Olimb, Joe Dziedzic, Travis Richards and
Jed Fiebelkorn. I think with the exception of Olimb, none of those
guys were big scorers. But they all played hard or had something
about them with which I could connect.
It's still a little more than a year down the road, but what happens
when Waibel graduates?
There have been a few ideas tossed around about what to do after
Waibel moves on. The best idea yet is to dedicate the web site
to one player each year who exemplifies the same qualities as
Jon. Almost like a "Jon Waibel Award."