Many of you know the twitter handle @TheWuWu, and you have seen the adorable pictures of Marcus Wu with just about every Capitals’ player on the team and a few coaches too! So who is Gene Wu and how did he and his family become such big fans? We sat down with Gene to find out for you in our first monthly installment of Fan of the Month.
We met up with Gene and Marcus at the MedStar Capitals IcePlex (MCI), naturally. Marcus is taking ice skating lessons as he prepares himself to become the next local legend on the hockey rink. He is doing a great job skating too.
Gene has been a Caps fan since the 1980’s, although he took a little break to broaden his horizons with some basketball and football. After Marcus was born, they tried to get him interested in sports too. “We tried baseball. He was very impatient – it was too slow for him. So then we tried football. We went to a preseason game, the Lions and the Redskins; after the first ten minutes he went to sleep in our arms. The Redskins scored, it was loud, and he didn’t wake up at all.” Marcus chimed in and said he has been to see basketball, as in the Harlem Globetrotters, and liked that.
Around 2013 they took him to a Caps pre-season game and that’s all Marcus needed! “He was about a year old, and he started following the pucks and the players and got interested so I bought him a little soft puck and he started playing around and ever since then he has loved hockey.” Gene began to take Marcus to Kettler (MCI now) to watch practice and they began to meet some of the players. The family also began to attend some of the special events open to season ticket holders where they took those now famous pictures of Marcus with various Capitals.
The more frequently they have attended events, the more the players have come to recognize them. “Tom Wilson recognizes him. Oshie does. Ovi not so much but Kuzy definitely. Orlov does and he has met most of the players.” That’s when the need to skate hit, and now Marcus has been skating for about four months. Marcus said his favorite part of skating is “Going fast.” Gene said he gave ice skating a try when he was younger but used the “weak ankles” excuse to explain why he doesn’t skate today. His wife, Vicki is the other skater in the family and she can be found skating with Marcus while Gene watches and takes pictures.
We shifted our discussion to what it means to be a part of Capitals community. Gene had this to say: “The Caps community is a very small group, but it’s a very loyal group. They stick together. The organization is great; you have these open practices. I have talked to fans from other teams and they don’t have open practices and they aren’t as accessible.” He went on to talk about how friendly the players are to the fans. “They come from small towns and they understand that to grow the sport you have to take care of the little kids and they are really great with the kids. My wife and I really appreciate that.”
As the conversation continued, we asked about all those photos at the various Capitals events and how Gene manages doing that with now young son. He explained that they keep track of events through social media and by talking with other fans about where the players might be for special events. “We try to patronize their sponsors so that they will do more events. It’s another way to get to know the players.” So what does it take to get those pictures and autographs? “You have to get there early – especially the more famous the player – at least two hours early for the more popular players because they line up early for them. And it’s fun.”
The day the Stanley Cup came to Kettler during Fan Fest, Gene was among the first in line, in the still dark hours of the morning. He shared: “I couldn’t sleep. They were still sleeping and I decided to get up and get in line. It wasn’t too dark and was a little cooler. It was the Stanley Cup and how many times do you have an opportunity to get your picture with it??” Vicki and Marcus came up at a more reasonable hour to join him in line.
Gene shared his strategy as a dad with a young child during those times when he knows there will be a long line and a longer wait; “I usually stand in line first and they let it slide that my family joins us because it is just Marcus and my wife. I used to take him out during preschool but it’s a lot harder in elementary school.“
Marcus is entering first grade this year and he is pretty excited about it. They will be shifting their priorities more to Marcus and his hockey classes and practice this season. That doesn’t mean there won’t be more pictures though! “If we can make the appearances, we’ll make them but for now it’s all about his hockey ‘career’ now, Gene said. Marcus said he would like to be like Oshie as a skater. Gene told us that they like that Oshie is a ‘team guy” and that is what he wants for his son. Asked if he wouldn’t want to be a Holtby goalie Marcus said “No, I want to score goals.”
Gene shared just a few of his many photos with us. One of the first well-known sports figures, Marcus met with coach Mike Shanahan at Redskins training camp. One of the first Capitals he had his picture with was Karl Alzner. It has been fun to watch Marcus grow up in front of the camera. Gene explained that they post so many pictures so that their relatives who don’t have an opportunity to see Marcus grow can see what he is doing. “It’s a little biography of him and to show relatives overseas like in Taiwan who might not get to see or meet him, but they get to know him through the photos.” We look forward to seeing more of Marcus as he grows into an awesome hockey player!
Thanks, Gene and Marcus, for spending some time with us and letting us get to know you better. Friends be sure to say “hello” next time you see them walking the Capital One Arena concourse or at MedStar for practice and hockey classes.
Do you have a special fan story to share? We would love to talk to you and share your story with other fans. Just email us firstname.lastname@example.org or message us through our blog.