Arizona basketball super fan 'Grandma' is young at heart
Tyler Besh / Arizona Daily Wildcat
If you think you’re dedicated to Arizona basketball, you might need to reconsider.
Phyllis Goodman can tell you what dedication to Arizona basketball is. Arizona fans know her as “Grandma” and can find her in her usual seat at every men’s basketball game in McKale Center.
Goodman has been a season ticket holder for 45 years, longer than the Wildcats have played in McKale. She either brings one of her two kids from out of town or a lucky friend with her to games — but that friend has to make the cut.
“I only invite someone who really likes basketball,” Goodman said. “I won’t just invite somebody because it’s a thing to do.”
Goodman spends the beginning of each game sitting on the edge of her seat, waiting eagerly for the team to run out.
She remains on her feet for the whole game, dancing to every song and cheering on the Wildcats with every ounce of energy she has.
Goodman is Wilbur Wildcat’s choice dance partner (don’t tell Wilma), and the ZonaZoo waves in her direction between pregame introductions and tipoff and yells, “Hi Grandma!”
Goodman waves back every time.
“I’ve kind of bonded with the students, and it makes it more up close and personal,” Goodman said.
She may seem all smiles, but if the referee makes a bad call she’ll tell them straight.
“I’m not a quiet basketball fan. If I’m there to watch basketball, I’m really into it,” Goodman says. “I’m very lucky I’m seated with people who put up with me.”
After every game, Goodman runs to her car to listen to head coach Sean Miller on the radio.
In reality, it’s the Arizona crowd that is lucky to have a fan as enthusiastic as Goodman. But where does this dedication and fireball of energy come from?
Goodman attended the UA, as did her husband. Both her sons and one grandson are UA alumni, and her granddaughter is currently a student at the UA. Her youngest son was a ballboy when Fred Snowden was the head coach in the 1970s, which is also when Bear Down Gymnasium was the home of Arizona basketball. Goodman’s father was also a season ticket holder.
“Basketball has been in my family forever and ever,” Goodman says. “I’ve always had a lot of energy. I’m very lucky that I have that energy and that I’ve had the opportunity to jump around and use it up.”
Her energy is well spent on Arizona basketball, no matter where she is watching the game.
“When I’m watching a game at my house by myself, an away game, I do the very same thing that I do at McKale,” Goodman said.
Goodman often wishes she could be in the student section so she wouldn’t have to sit down.
The ZonaZoo would be delighted to have her company. When told about the fondness the 10,000 members of the student section have for her, Goodman responded, “I don’t know how that started — maybe because of my hat.”
The ZonaZoo is known to hold up large cardboard cutouts of the team members’ heads as well as one of coach Sean Miller. Last year the student section decided to include a cardboard head of Goodman.
“I almost fell over,” she said.
Goodman sits close to the court, which allows her to experience the game where she can be seen.
“If I were sitting way, way up I would not be happy,” she said.
If it was up to Goodman, she would sit with the team on the bench. Unfortunately for her, “they don’t let fans do that.”
Goodman brings a noticeably infectious energy to every game, and the great number of fans who know her can feel it.
“All I can say is I have the best time,” Goodman said. “I don’t know about anybody else, but I have the best time.”