Wildcat Tracks: Nick Ebel ’16
There are college football fans and there are serious college football fans. You could definitely say Nick Ebel falls into the latter category. Ebel, a senior at The University of Alabama, is well, sort of famous for his role as the “Alabama Shaker Guy”. How does one become known for wearing a hula skirt made of red and white shakers to football games?
“Gameday at Alabama. It fits the stereotype of most big southern schools. Tailgating is a necessity, preppy is the dress code and you don’t go in the stadium without your shaker,” Ebel explained. “I started my college career trying to fit in that mold. Four games into the season I was holding strong, but when I wasn’t using my shaker I would stick it in my belt. At one point I looked down and thought ‘Hmmm…what if I made a hula skirt out of this?’ Then I thought, ‘No Nick. Don’t do that. That’s weird.’ I dismissed the thought completely, but 10 minutes later, the thought came rushing back into my mind along with ‘I know! I’ll paint my chest too, that’ll be cool!'”
The rest is history! “After the game, I collected all the shakers I could find. Before our next home game, I painted up and set out for the quad. People were coming up taking pictures, inviting me into their tailgates and having a blast with it,” Ebel said. “I was absolutely loving the opportunity I had to make people laugh and smile. But before I left for my day, I never thought to look at myself in the mirror. When I got back after my first game, I looked in the mirror and froze. ‘Nick. You look like an idiot,’ I thought to myself. I swore to never do it again. The whole next week people were stopping me on campus asking me if I was “that guy…the shaker skirt guy.” Embarrassed, I would acknowledge that I was in fact “that guy” then would inform them that it was a one-time thing. They always pushed back and told me I needed to do it again. Peer pressure is a beautiful thing! I finally agreed that the shaker skirt would make a second appearance. Four years later, I have not worn any other outfit to a football game. To this day, I am still embarrassed every time I leave the house in the shaker skirt!”
Growing up, Ebel says he was actually pretty shy. “I hated talking to strangers and would not go out of my way to put myself in the spotlight,” Ebel said. “Spring break in 8th grade is where that all changed. We went to the beach and brought Zach Hughes ’16 with us. Zach continuously put us in random social situations without a second thought. We were interacting with strangers and having a blast doing it! From that trip, I realized life was a lot more fun when you are willing to put yourself out there and see what happens.”
Ebel loved his time at Westminster, mentioning a few favorite faculty members he remembers fondly. “My first-ever 7th grade class was with Mrs. DeRousse. That was a real bummer because, as many know, once you have a class with Mrs. DeRousse, it will never be beat. I have yet to experience a teacher who loves her students as well as Mrs. DeRousse.” Ebel played both baseball and football at Westminster. “On the sports side, Coach Snyder had an incredible impact on my life!” Ebel said. “He coached with conviction and genuinely cared about us beyond our lives on the field. He reinforced the importance of discipline in my life and showed me how to be a strong leader.”
His stand-out role as the “Shaker Skirt Guy” has allowed Ebel to interact with people whom he otherwise might not have met. “I’ve been able to meet a ton of great people as the shaker skirt guy! As far as famous people, it has stayed mostly within the football world meeting a number of former Alabama football players who are now in the NFL and our current players generally know who I am and will recognize me. Tua Tagovailoa thinks the skirt is hilarious,” Ebel said. “Outside of the football world, my favorite interaction would have to come through the national championship game where President Trump showed up. I didn’t get to meet him, but as I was wandering the stadium, a few of the secret service members were pulling out their phones and taking selfies with me.”
Ebel plans to graduate in 2020 with a double major in public relations and communication studies. As for the Shaker Skirt Guy? “I never went into this role with hopes of accomplishing anything other than having fun and maybe making a person or two laugh,” Ebel said. “Everything that has come from doing it has been incredible! Moving forward, it appears the skirt will die with me. I had hoped to pass it down these past few years, but as I searched, nobody was willing to take on the challenge.”
This alumni spotlight was originally featured in the January 2020 issue of our alumni newsletter, Wildcat Tracks.