With more than 78,000 red and white clad fans in the stands in a homecoming night game against Drew Brees and Purdue at Camp Randall Stadium, UW sports marketing employee Kevin Kluender, Stoughton, recalls how he was looking for something to energize the fans.
At the end of the third quarter, he turned to playing “Jump Around” by the House of Pain and that decision on an October night in 1998 set the tone for a Badger tradition to emerge. The student section started jumping nonstop and the Badgers hung on to beat the Boilermakers 31-24 on its way to a three-way tie of the Big Ten Championship and a trip to the Rose Bowl.
“We didn’t think much of it,” Kluender said. “I looked out there and it was like popcorn popping. It was a great moment.”
Brees, who went on to become a star with the New Orleans Saints, set an NCAA single-game record with 83 passes in the game against the Badgers.
Wisconsin finished the regular season 10–1 overall (7–1 conference) and were co-champions of the Big Ten Conference (with Ohio State and Michigan) for the first time since 1993. UW went on to beat UCLA 38-31 in the Rose Bowl.
Kluender now serves as assistant athletic director for marketing and promotions and the “Jump Around” tradition may be one of the biggest creations. He doesn’t take credit for the raucous chanting of the song having staying power.
“You can’t orchestrate something like this,” he said. “The Badger fans have made it what it has become.”
One year later after the first “Jump “Around” at Camp Randall, when the Badgers were opening the 1999 season against Murray State, a nonconference opponent, he wasn’t sure if the fans and student section would embrace it as much.
“It was a different feel with a nonconference game to open the season,” he said. “We played it and everyone started jumping around and I thought we may have something. It helped that ESPN and our broadcast partners started showing it coming out of breaks.”
In 2003 when Camp Randall Stadium and its suites were undergoing a renovation, when then athletic director Pat Richter advised not playing “Jump “Around” for the first home game against Akron because it may effect the construction of the renovation.
Kluender said after the first game many Badger fans were upset and wrote letters to the UW Athletic Department and administration office to reinstate the song. UW commissioned an engineering study to make sure the renovation of Camp Randall would not be altered and “Jump “Around” was brought back, Kluender said.
Kluender and his wife Sara also used their technology skills in the Stoughton School District’s virtual “Jump Around” event. During the COVID-19 “Safer at Home” order, Kevin Kluender did a virtual “Jump “Around” event with his children who attend Sandhill Elementary School that was recorded by his wife, Sara and used for the school district.
Kevin Kluender the virtual “Jump “Around” helped students and families see their teachers and friends and put a smile on their face during an unprecedented time.