If you have been to a Fire game in the past few years, you have probably heard the steady pulse of the bass drum coming from Section 8. The man behind that beat is long time Chicago Fire fan DJ Racis. DJ has been a dedicated part of Section 8 for almost a decade. Among many other things, he is infamous for running for every Section 8 board position at the Annual General Meeting.
Life is a crazy journey for all of us and the latest part of DJ's has him leaving Chicago for Reno, Nevada in less than two weeks. As fate would have it, his departure takes place just after this Saturday, January 28th's 2012 Section 8 Annual General Meeting at the Toyota Park Stadium Club at 1:00 PM. In his farewell thread, DJ said, "Hopefully I'll come out of hiatus and run for every spot on the board and lose everyone once again just for old time's sake."
I'll leave it to you to attend this weekend's meeting and find out if he was jesting or not. Before he starts a new chapter in his life outside the Windy City, he shared his story as a Fire supporter.
DJ's Fire fandom originated when the Fire came into existence. The buzz from the club's launch was unavoidable and he took notice.
"My dad always listens to Polskie Radio 1030AM and they were pumping the Fire up so much we just had to go," DJ recalls. "I still have the ticket stub from the Fire home game."
It wasn't until the 2003 Eastern Conference Final when DJ became hooked on Section 8's chants and cheers. Sitting across the aisle from the supporters section, he knew instantly he had to get season tickets and get involved in the fun.
"I've been a regular since 2004, my first season that I got season tickets. I tried my hand at drumming that year on the bass [drum] and did it a few times. After that I became a regular on the bass [drum] especially after I bought my 30" bass drum."
The drum itself has a personality of its own with various stickers along the body and a painted design of Chicago on the outer head. Whenever the Fire score a goal, DJ hoists the drum over his head in celebration. He always brings it around with him, not just at Fire games, but to UIC games, international soccer competitions, and other events as well.
Since then, DJ has regularly stood in the Section with the drum corps providing the steady beat for the fans to sing along. He has also collected a number of stories from road trips and special occasions. DJ was on ESPN SportsCenter's Not Top Ten for headbanging his bass drum after Dasan Robinson scored the stoppage time game winner in the comeback win against Colorado in 2009. Always one to have a wild time on a road trip, he recalls only some of his first road trip to Columbus in 2005 after allegedly falling off the bus and getting picked up from a Columbus hospital.
A notable memory he does have is from the 2009 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals against New England.
"To come to a packed house, and not just with new fans, but all the old fans that came back - everyone knew why they needed to be there. It was business." DJ also recalls the atmosphere, "I can never recall a louder or more raucous stadium than that night."
It will be the atmosphere DJ will miss when he leaves Chicago as well as being with fans and friends both at home at Toyota Park and away on road trips. As for his famous, decorated bass drum, he plans to leave it with a caretaker for future use at Fire games. However, he will especially miss his Elgin Crew.
"Over the last few years I have really become great friends with the guys and gals and it has been a great second family for me to be with away from mine. I'll miss you guys so much."
Even though DJ will be hundreds of miles away from the Fire, he still fully intends on keeping up with the team through the various satellite and online options available. He may even continue going on road trips when the Fire play against the Western Conference teams. As thankful as he is to be able to keep up with the team, he knows it just won't be the same as being there.
"I'm going to miss being at games so bad. Even my girlfriend is sad for taking me away from that as she had fun at the games that I brought her to this past season."
However, the family ties within Section 8 remain strong enough to hold together no matter where anyone goes.
"Being a part of Section 8 is so amazing. I gained an extended family that I will have bonds with for life. Hopefully I'll be able to come back to the city for some games and see people On Tour at the limited amount of west coast games we have."
"I'll definitely keep in touch with many of the Section 8 people that I know because the Section is family and you never forget about family no matter what."
There's saying around here that 'the beat rolls on'. We certainly hope the beat of DJ's drum continues even in his absence and it will be all the louder whenever he has a triumphant reunion with the Fire faithful.