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‘Nova Nation Conversation: Derek Richardson

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A ‘Nova Nation Conversation with Derek Richardson

Welcome to ‘Nova Nation Conversations, a summer series that will feature a different VUhoops reader/Villanova fan each week. Interested in being featured? Let us know!

This week we share some Villanova stories from longtime fan (and former Will D. Cat), Derek Richardson!


What is your name/handle?

NovaMascot99

Where are you from?

Toms River, New Jersey

Where are you now?

After a 4 year stay at Villanova and a 3 year stay in Newark (for Seton Hall Law), I’m back in Toms River practicing law.

Give us a summary of your current life in a few sentences!

Married. 2 kids. Divorced. Remarried in a blended family with a total of 4 kids.

How long have you been a fan of Villanova?

Since 1996. Before that, I had never heard of Villanova. I had literally no idea where I wanted to go to school. My best friend at the time had a sister at Villanova. One weekend he made plans to visit her and invited me to stay over one night. After that, I think my exact thought was “I like this place. I guess I’ll go here.”

Did you attend Villanova?

I did. ‘97-‘01. Majored in political science. When a family member discussed the prospect of future employment for a large pharma company in computer science, I briefly flirted with a change in majors. That lasted exactly 1 day because, after attending a calculus and “intro” programming class, I quickly realized that I made a much better poli-sci major than actual science major.

What is your favorite Villanova basketball memory?

My favorite memory is sitting court side for a game with my son. He was in absolute awe. It reminded me of when I sat court side for a Nets game with my dad as a kid.

Who is your favorite Villanova player?

Josh Hart. It’s so hard to choose. Josh was nice enough to stop and take a picture with me and my son after a game in Newark. It wasn’t until after I saw the picture that I noticed the street sign. That is exactly the intersection where my law school apartment was located.

Who was your favorite Villanova professor?

Lance Hannon. Super nice. As the son of a State Trooper, I had never been exposed to the idea that “criminal justice” was more than throwing away the key to a cell. He challenged me to think and challenged the way I thought. I credit him for really opening my mind on a lot of topics.

If you had an unlimited amount of money to give Villanova for one project, what would it be? (Pavilion not included)

The “Keep Jay at Nova Forever Fund.”

Do you follow any other sports at Villanova?

I follow football casually.

What groups/clubs were you involved in at Villanova?

I was on the board of the Villanova Basketball Club and can proudly claim having created the club’s first website. (It was awful)

I was also the Will D. Cat mascot. I remember how hot and sweaty and awfully smelly the mascot costume was. When I was the mascot, I seriously doubt the costume was ever washed. Maybe year to year. It was kept in a bag in an unlocked closet upstairs in Jake Nevin. Literally anyone could’ve walked in and taken it. The whole mascot operation, as I remember it, was pretty unorganized. I don’t remember ever really being told what to do and what not to do. That lead to my almost costing the team a technical foul during a nationally televised game at the Pavilion. I was skate boarding across the court on my stomach. I stood up and a referee tapped me on the shoulder and told me if I did it again, he’d T-up the team. I think I hid for the rest of the game.

I met some of the current mascots. Plural. There are like 6. It’s a machine. They have business cards. I couldn’t get a free hotdog (true story) when I was the mascot. These guys are a well oiled, professional machine. It’s impressive. At a recent game, one of the mascots gave me a Will D. Cat business card with a handwritten note saying “once a Will D. Cat, always a Will. D. Cat.” I keep it in my wallet as a reminder of a cool connection to the program... and possibly my “in” for a free hotdog.

What other sports teams do you follow?

The Yanks, Giants, Rangers and now the Sixers. Sorry Knicks, it’s just not going to work.

If you could play one position, for one team, in one sport, what would you be?

Point guard for the Lakers.

Game day drink of choice?

Cape May’s Demisemiseptcentennial Ale. Brewed for Villanova’s 175th anniversary.

Any Villanova game superstitions?

I have an NCAA tournament superstition. I wear the same outfit for every game. Can’t wash it. I didn’t plan it very well in 2016 and wore a track suit in the Houston heat. It was worth it. I’ve “retired” the white #1 jersey I wore for each championship.