CANES BASKETBALL LEGEND AND CURRENT MAYOR OF DANIA BEACH TAMARA JAMES DISCUSSES HER DECISION TO COME TO UM, HER RECORD-SETTING CAREER, HOW HER PRO CAREER LED HER OVERSEAS AND HOW HER BASKETBALL BACKGROUND HAS HELPED HER NAVIGATE HER NEW ROLE AS A PUBLIC SERVANT ON THE BEHIND THE U PODCAST

LISTEN NOW!

Close Topbar

Seasoned Canes: Fans Share Their Stories

Freddie ‘CaneFreak’ Vasquez

An unmistakable sight for those who support Hurricanes Football, Freddie ‘CaneFreak’ Vasquez’s game day attire pales in comparison to Vasquez’ compassion for others.

For 43 years, Vasquez has been cheering for the University of Miami. But even more than his signature outfit – mask, shoulder pads, horns and all – Vasquez said getting the chance to interact with fans on game day means more to him than all the rest.

“It’s the people that you meet. The kids go crazy meeting you,” Vasquez said. “Canes fans, other fans…no one cares who you root for. They love and support you for being a true fan.”

 

Vasquez was born in Hialeah. He attended his first game at the old Orange Bowl in 1979 with a friend named Frank Ortega, whose father had season tickets As an avid Los Angeles Raiders fan, Vasquez didn’t start dressing up for Canes games until the 1980s, borrowing the idea for the game day costumes from his favorite NFL team.

“It has been the same basic outfit, but I add on to it every year,” Vasquez said. “I’ve added all the ACC helmets, ACC mascots, pins up and down. Just wait until this season.”

In total, Vasquez has been to 427 games to root for the orange and gren. He lives in Tampa now, but still drives down for every game and travels to essentially every road game. He says his toughest loss was one that many Hurricanes can agree upon – the 2003 Fiesta Bowl to Ohio State.

Win or lose, and no matter the opponent, Vasquez has one rule by which he strictly abides: visiting the handicapped areas across the stadium to take photos with fans.

One of his fondest memories of all-time involves a youngster named Stephen. Desperate for a photo with the famous ‘CaneFreak,’ Stephen eventually caught Vasquez’s attention.

“The usher in our aisle said, ‘Freak, the kid wants to see you. He wants a picture with you,'” Vasquez recalled.

In order to take the photo, and with help from his mom and sister, Stephen stood up in his wheelchair for the very first time, according to his mother.

“How can you describe that feeling?” Vasquez said. “She said he had never done it before. I’m tearing up in the stands. That’s what it’s all about. Making a difference for kids.”