COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Come this fall - the XFINITY Center will be full of energy with boisterous cheers and chants, music vibrating through the rafters, sneakers squeaking on the court and rims rattling.
This would mark John Rymer’s favorite time of the year – the start of yet another Maryland basketball season.
John was always easy to find. A tall and slender built gentleman, John would stand proudly along his customary courtside seat on the east baseline with his wife, Vicki, by his side - clapping, cheering and encouraging each Terp during the team introductions.
"Isn't this great?"
It was John’s customary phrase for 47 seasons as a Terps' season-ticket holder. He always present, always positive and, most of all, always encouraging. He could often be seen smiling and brimming with enthusiasm while extending a warm hand shake and smile.
For John, it was always great.
But this Maryland basketball campaign will start off with a very different feel in November because our long-time friend and family member, John Rymer, passed away from cancer on August 5.
In a recent letter to the Friends of Maryland Basketball (FOMB) group, current President Stan Goldstein, one of John's many friends who traveled with him for nearly four decades said, “If there is a Mount Rushmore for the Maryland Basketball Family, John deserves a place.”
John is credited with being one of the founding member of the Fastbreakers, a group of passionate Terp fans who played a pivotal role in fundraising during the Lefty Driesell era. In addition, John served as the President of the Terrapin Club and was also elected to its Board of Directors.
Goldstein shared that he "found John's unwavering support and positive outlook to be inspirational.”
“John would never say no when it came to supporting our coaches and basketball programs and you couldn’t say no when he asked for your support," said Goldstein.
Kevin Anderson, director of Maryland Athletics, recognized John “as the ultimate Terp” and Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon shared that John was “one of our all-time greatest fans" and added “John was always positive, always happy and always supportive.”
His loyalty and dedication caught the eye of many, including former Hall of Fame head coach Gary Williams who shared how unique, special and committed John was to both the University and basketball program.
John’s intuitional knowledge of the University of Maryland was equally impressive. And fans and friends took notice of how intelligent and insightful John was.
“He wasn't just a great guy, he may have been the greatest storyteller Terp athletics has ever known,” Maryland men’s basketball radio analyst Chris Knoche shared. “John could hold anybody spellbound with stories about any event in any venue on campus. He could go from talking about boxing matches in Ritchie Coliseum in the 50's to watching Gary Williams play in Cole in the 60's to watching Melo and company roll Minnesota on the road last year - all in the space of about 15 minutes. One of his greatest strengths was simply that he played few favorites. He rooted for the uniform and the university. He was just a tremendous man.”
John was never far from the team – in fact he was a mainstay when the Terps traveled on the road and everyone enjoyed his company.
“It seemed like when I was on the road doing a game – it was a gimmie that John Rymer would be there too,” Hall of Famer and Voice of the Terrapins Johnny Holliday said. “John would be cheering his head off for the student-athletes, shouting encouragement when things were not going well and offering high fives when the Terps were rolling. John loved Maryland, and believe me, all of us at Maryland loved John Rymer.”
John could light up a room and he left an indelible mark on each person he met. Just ask ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt whose relationship with John dated back for more than 40 years.
“I met John back when I was a little kid, back in the 70’s," Van Pelt said. "He was the most consistently positive, upbeat supporter of Maryland athletics, basketball in particular that I ever knew. His smile seemed permanent. His outlook was always optimistic and he always cared about one thing above anything else: what was best for Maryland. I can’t remember an encounter that didn’t end with me feeling happier if for no other reason than I saw him. He’d thank me for all I do for Maryland, which in my life could never match his. He’d tell me how proud my dad would be, which meant more than I can say. We will all miss John immensely. The best way we can honor his memory is to keep that spirit alive in all we do. What a spectacular man and example of the best of what a loyal Terp can aspire to be.”
"John was a friend and supporter of the everyday fan,” said current Fastbreakers President Fabian Jimenez. “He wanted to have the Fastbreakers get to know and love the program as he did.”
In early July, Jimenez and John exchanged emails for one final time: John shared: "God has been so good to me. He has given me 80 incredible years. No regrets. All love and appreciation!”
A friend, a mentor, a storyteller, a leader and an ambassador – John Rymer exuded all of these endearing qualities and as Goldstein concluded in his letter - "We are now left with a void in our heart and in the XFINITY Center."