Bolivar basketball coach Robby Hoegh strutted into the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions press conference sporting vivid royal blue slacks.
“I’m not afraid to look like an idiot, obviously,” Hoegh said.
Hoegh loves to wear blue. The coach dons the Liberators’ colors for every game. He frowns upon his own children wearing red, the uniform color of many of Bolivar’s opponents. Hoegh has remained loyal to his team’s colors since he started coaching at Bolivar in 2001.
After becoming head coach in 2008, basketball fans began to take notice of Hoegh’s choice in trousers. One pair of blue slacks gained a new level of fame when an anonymous Liberators fan created a Twitter account specifically for the pants.
“That started back, I think, when I was a freshman,” Bolivar (9-0) senior guard Johnny Scott said. “I think it’s pretty funny.”
The person tweeting behind the moniker “Blue Pants” (@BluPantsGoldSwag) describes itself in its official biography as “a blue pair of pants worn on a semi-regular basis by Coach Robby Hoegh. When I’m on, it’s on.”
With each tongue-in-cheek tweet about Bolivar sports, Blue Pants’ following grows. Blue Pants tweets about sports, about going to Casey’s or Arby’s with Hoegh, and occasionally hints at its own origins.
Avg. margin of victory by Liberator basketball teams tonight was roughly equivalent to my waist size. Coincidence? I think not. #BHSmatters— I Am Blue Pants (@BluPantsGldSwag) March 6, 2015
“I graduated from a clothing factory in Bangladesh, but now I’m a Liberator through and through,” Blue Pants once tweeted.
A total of 338 fans follow the pants’ account on Twitter. Blue Pants regularly commented on a run to the final four by both Bolivar’s boys and girls basketball teams in March 2015.
“Avg. margin of victory by Liberator basketball teams tonight was roughly equivalent to my waist size. Coincidence? I think not,” Blue Pants tweeted after a playoff doubleheader.
While Hoegh has been known to interact with Blue Pants on Twitter, the coach of the No. 2-ranked Class 4 team in Missouri insists he is not the man behind the Twitter account.
“I’m not that witty,” Hoegh said.
While the Liberator’s official mascot is inspired by Simon Bolivar, Hoegh’s pants still make some in-the-fabric appearances at Bolivar sporting events.
“Blue Pants has become kind of our unofficial side mascot. In fact, we’ve had pep assemblies where Blue Pants makes appearances and talks to the student body,” Hoegh said.
Hoegh is undecided if his royal blue slacks will appear at a Tournament of Champions game. The garment debuted when Hoegh tried to comfort a tense Liberators team before a game, but the Liberators of now have a different attitude.
“I wore them against Helias in a tournament championship once, just because I wanted our kids to be loose. I wanted to give them something to kind of laugh at have fun with,” Hoegh said. “This group doesn’t really need that, and then it just looks like I’m drawing attention to myself.”
Hoegh prefers to draw attention to his players, whom he speaks fondly of as basketball players and as people.
Senior Bryce Krueger made seven 3-pointers and scored 30 points Tuesday in a 77-50 win over Aurora.
Case Jones and juniors Brandon Emmert and Conley Garrison round out the Bolivar starting five. Senior John Michael Cates is the sixth man in a short rotation.
Whether or not the pants appear at JQH Arena, the Liberators are excited for the chance to play in the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions.
“It’s an awesome experience and we’re going to play as hard as we can,” Scott said.
Bolivar plays the defending Tournament of Champions winners, Oak Hill Academy of Mouth of Wilson, Virginia, in the first round. Like any good fashion ensemble, Bolivar’s players work well together.
“What the kids are good at is putting pieces together, understanding their strengths and playing off of each other’s strengths,” Hoegh said. “You just get comfortable with each other and you can be direct and honest with each other without offense, and that’s key—direct communication.”
10 of the best tweets by Blue Pants (@BluPantsGoldSwag)
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10. And yet another year goes by with no “Dress as a famous pair of pants day” for Courtwarming spirt week.
9. Avg. margin of victory by Liberator basketball teams tonight was roughly equivalent to my waist size. Coincidence? I think not.
8. I graduated from a clothing factory in Bangladesh, but now I’m Liberator through and through.
7. Hoegh’s shirt tail is out…awesomeness switch has been flipped to “on like Donkey Kong”
6. Last week, I went for an epic tweet and doctors say I have a partial tear in my left inseam.
5. Worst nightmare EVER last night! Dreamed that I overslept and missed the big game…even worse, I was khaki.
4. I hold my good friend belt in place, belt holds me up…we are a fashionable a teamwork metaphor
3. Trying to tackle (Johnny Scott)? Probably more effective to try juggling water.
2. I ask questions to find common ground: “What are your favorite dryer sheets?” or “Where are u from? I’m from J.C. Penney’s”
1. I’m just like every other pair of pants; I put my owner on one leg at a time.
2016 Bass Pro Tournament of Champions schedule
Thursday, Jan. 14
5 p.m. Rainier Beach (Seattle, Washington) vs. Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nevada)
6:30 p.m. Bolivar vs. Oak Hill (Mouth of Wilson, Virginia)
8 p.m. Kickapoo vs. Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, California)
9:30 p.m. Christ the King (Middle Village, New York) vs. Chaminade (St. Louis, Missouri)
Friday, Jan. 15
5 p.m. consolation semifinal
6:30 p.m. consolation semifinal
8 p.m. championship semifinal
9:30 p.m. championship semifinal
Saturday, Jan. 16
2:30 p.m. seventh place game
4 p.m. fifth place game
6 p.m. Great Southern Bank dunk contest
7 p.m. third place game
9 p.m. championship game