Gregarious band member is McKale Center staple

2014-03-02T00:00:00Z 2014-03-02T09:12:08Z Gregarious band member is McKale Center stapleBy Jon Gold Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

There are 7 minutes 14 seconds left in Arizona’s throttling of visiting Cal on Wednesday night, and it’s Jordan Ingram’s time to shine.

T.J. McConnell sets the stage with a three-pointer that puts the Wildcats up 18, getting the crowd into a frenzy.

Chris Brown’s “Turn Up the Music” blares over the loudspeakers, and Ingram, situated in his regular front-row spot as a trombonist for the Pride of Arizona pep band, gets swept away.

“Turn up the music, cause this song just came on  … ”

Ingram pumps his fists.

“Turn up the music, if they try to turn us down  … ”

He waves his arms.

“Turn up the music, can I hear it til the speakers blow … ”

He shimmies his shoulders.

“Turn up the music, fill your cup and drink it down  … ”

Ingram gets ready.

“If you sexy and you know it, put your hands up in the air  … ”

And now, the move.

If you’ve been to an Arizona game in the last few years — or happened to have seen one of countless online links to a classic GIF of Ingram following the Wildcats’ win over Harvard in last year’s NCAA tournament — you know the move.

It is a full-body surge? Thrust? Wave of emotion? The wave starts at his head and rolls down his chest and out his feet and there goes the head twirl.

Usher himself doesn’t do it much better.

“I’m always like this,” Ingram said. “There are loads of home videos of me dancing, being crazy. I don’t know where it all came from. I was the first child, so I’m kind of used to the cameras.”

The eldest son of Jani and James Ingram of Flagstaff — he has a younger brother, Josh, who plays basketball for Trinity College in San Antonio and a younger sister, Jalisa, who is still in high school — Ingram is gregarious by nature.

But even he is taken back by the attention that he’s garnered, both on the McKale Center video board and around Tucson.

It started after that NCAA tournament game, when the website created the video clip of him dancing enthusiastically. It spread like wildfire on college basketball sites and on Twitter. Even the Washington Post picked it up.

“The first person who realized it was a big deal — I guess? — was my grandma,” Ingram said. “Mom and Dad were in San Jose with me, so they didn’t know about anything. But when I got back to my room after that one game, I had 200 Facebook posts.”

This season, he’s been as synonymous with Arizona home games as superfan Phyllis Goodman and a Rondae Hollis-Jefferson dunk. Sean Miller gets less mug time on the sparkly new video board. Wilbur T. Wildcat gets a run for his money.

UA athletic director Greg Byrne asked Ingram to stand on the podium in front of the band on Wednesday to help lead the Zona Zoo in distracting the Bears.

Giant long balloons in hand, Ingram went to work.

Didn’t work.

The free throws were good, and Ingram resumed his place in the band formation, but not before slipping on a red No. 1 foam finger.

He’ll get more chances to make his mark tonight when No. 3 UA faces Stanford.

“I get to be at every game with Jordan, and he is one of the reasons why I love basketball games so much,” said Megan Carcioppolo, co-captain of the Pride of Arizona Pomline. “He always gets the crowd started on every chant; he directs the entire Zona Zoo to distract the other players for free throws; he is constantly dancing and having so much fun. I would call him the face of our student section.”

And it’s a recognizable face.

Since his initial dance with fame, Ingram has become a local celebrity, on campus and off.

“People recognize me at least four times a day,” Ingram said, incredulously, as if, ‘Me? Why me?’ “It’ll be more frequent the day after games. The weirdest thing is I do get a lot of stares. They won’t say hi.”

Some are willing to take the plunge, particularly with the benefit of some anonymity. Like a giant taco suit.

Flash back to Feb. 6, when the Wildcats hosted Oregon and emerged with a hard-fought 67-65 win.

With just more than 4 minutes to play in the first half and Arizona clinging to 31-30 lead, the team needed some energy.

Enter Ingram and Wilbur.

During a media timeout, Ingram busted moves alongside the Arizona mascot, two McKale Center staples bringing out the best in one another.

Ingram got a fist bump from a cameraman and a high-five from a student in a taco suit. Taco Suit Guy corralled his buddy, Watermelon Suit Guy, and they approached Ingram for a picture.

He happily obliged.

This has become routine, and not just at McKale Center.

Ingram works a part-time job at Sears as a television salesman, and recently he was approached by an older gentleman looking for a new squawk box. Ingram made his pitch, talking about all the latest technologies, and the man interrupted him.

“Oh my god, you’re the guy in the band!” he said.

“My boss was standing there, laughing the whole time,” Ingram said. “Didn’t sell the TV, though. That was the bad part.”

The sales job is just for the time being, though, as Ingram, a communications major, hopes to embark on a marketing, advertising or public relations career.

For now, though, this college life is too much fun. He’ll return for a fifth year, and hopefully, to the band, where he’s made the cut three of his four years. Right back to that familiar spot, right in front, ready to dance, ready for his moment.

That is, if they don’t need him on the court. He is 6 feet 5 inches after all, a former high school basketball player.

Maybe if Nick Johnson gets in a little foul trouble …

“I’m not too much of a ballhandler,” Ingram corrects.

“I would fill in for Zeus,” he said, referring to center Kaleb Tarczewski, “but that would be scary, too.”

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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