Seasoned Canes: Fans Share Their Stories
When he thinks back to the conversation, Ken Manheimer can’t help but tear up.
Manheimer recalled the discussion with his wife, Tammy, about the passing of his beloved father and lifetime Hurricanes Football partner, Peter, and how hard it would be to continue to attend games without his dad.
It was at that moment where his daughter, Riley, came up to him with an idea.
“I want to start a new tradition,” Riley said. “I want to go to the games with you. I want to do be the person to do that with you now.”
Manheimer was happy to oblige on the passing of a torch.
He had been hooked on the Hurricanes ever since the 1980s, when he said, “I saw adults jumping around like crazy people for the first time.”
Manheimer’s father, Peter, had relocated the family to Miami to attend law school at The U. Manheimer was the first generation of his family born in south Florida, and said that the university has played a huge role to play in his family’s story.
“It almost didn’t matter the outcome of the game,” Manheimer said. “It got to a point where it was all about family, and the bonding experiences. And not just within our own family, but our ‘U Family.’ When you get to the stadium, it’s just a different experience. It’s special.”
And though his dad suffered an accident causing waist-down paralysis in 1986, the Manheimers would not be deterred.
Following significant rehab, the father and son made their return to the Orange Bowl where they sat in the handicapped section of the stadium near the West End Zone.
“To see those fans and be a part of that was awesome,” Manheimer said. “We were the farthest seats on the side of the section, so we were on the Hurricanes side right near the tunnel.”
They carried those same tickets in to Miami’s transition into what is now Hard Rock Stadium prior to 2008. Manheimer said he started bringing Riley as soon as she was born, and has photos of her in Sebastian the Ibis’s arms at just a few months old.
Manheimer’s father passed in 2018, and he couldn’t help but think of his dad when he started to bring Riley to games regularly over the last few years.
“The greatest thing about attending games as a kid was looking at my dad and seeing smile on his face,” Manheimer said. “Now I see it moreso as a dad myself – he was smiling because he saw me smiling, like me with Riley.”
Like countless young kids across South Florida, Joseph Bernreuter only ever wanted one thing for Christmas gifts and for his birthday presents: Hurricanes gear.
“I was the youngest of all the kids, so from a very early age, I can remember going down to the Orange Bowl,” Bernreuter said. “I don’t think we missed a home game for a really long time.”
Bernreuter grew up with his family in Pembroke Pines and now resides in Plantation. He and his best friends grew up loving the Hurricanes, and though none of his friend group attended The U for school, they remain as passionate as ever.
“We’re always supporting the Hurricanes,” Bernreuter said. “We always make it a big deal to be there on Senior Day, because we follow these players throughout their careers. Growing up in South Florida, it’s more of a community thing than anything.”
Bernreuter and his friends travel to at least one away game per season. They went to cheer on Miami against LSU at AT&T Stadium in Texas for the 2018 opener, and traveled to Notre Dame in 2016.
“Regardless of the outcome, that was great,” he said of that road trip. “We toured the campus, and it was a great experience. With the tradition of that rivalry, to be there for that game was special.”
There’s one trip that stands out above the rest, however – a trip out west for Miami’s most recent national championship win in the 2002 Rose Bowl.
“We did the whole kit and caboodle,” he said. “The parade, everything. I got to meet Ed Reed and Ken Dorsey, I was a senior in high school…that’s the best of the best. I could never replace that memory.”
Bernreuter does admit, however, he might not even be the biggest fan in his own family; that honor goes to his sister Christina, who has cerebral palsy. 2020 was particularly challenging, he said, given Christina’s love for Hurricanes Football and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think she has only missed between five or 10 games over the past 20 years,” Bernreuter said. “The amount of home games she has been to is astounding.”
Now, attending the games with his family and lifelong friends is even more special. After his father, Jim, passed away, the family honors his memory by continuing their tradition of cheering for the Hurricanes on Saturdays.
“These days Canes games have taken on even more meaning,” Bernreuter said. “The Hurricanes bring us together even to this day. After my dad has passed away, it was the highest priority to make sure we kept doing what brought us together.”
Section R, Row 50.
If you looked down that row for any Hurricanes football game in the Orange Bowl in the early 1990s, you’d have seen John Malone.
Malone, who grew up in Miami and started attending games casually in the late 1970s, said he was swept up by the frenzy of the Hurricanes in the 1980s before first purchasing season tickets in 1989.
“I was behind a post in Row 59 so I moved down to Row 50,” Malone said. “Those were nice seats.”
There was only one Miami game with which John Malone was struggling with the outcome of: the 2019 Independence Bowl, which he attended in person.
“I had a streak of going to multiple bowl games in a row, and I’m a proud graduate of Louisiana Tech,” he said. “That was a difficult and fun day at the same time. I guess I couldn’t really lose that day.”
Malone often takes his wife, Jo Mendez, or son, Chris, to football games in the fall.
“The weekend is predicated around kickoff time,” Malone said. “We go to a friend’s tailgate. We really enjoy it and really look forward to those Saturdays.”
Football-wise, one of his favorite memories was attending the 2001 Rose Bowl for the national championship.
He had missed the first national championship while in training for work, but has attended every one involving the Hurricanes since.
And while he loves Miami Football, Malone roots for the Hurricanes across all sports. He started attending baseball games at Mark Light Field in the 1980s and even attended the first men’s basketball game after the program was reborn.
Malone used to live a stone’s throw from campus, even taking his bicycle to ride to basketball games if he was going solo. Now, he lives a bit further up the road in Coral Gables.
“I would carry a stadium seat to baseball games, so not as many bike rides for baseball as there were for basketball,” Malone said with a laugh.