John Tripp and Susan Melero never miss a game at Gill

Susan Melero (left and John Tripp (right) have been attending Oregon State athletic events together for seven years. There regular spot is in section 17 behind OSU’ basket.

Josh Worden, Senior Beat Reporter

Two Oregon State fans never miss a game together

John Tripp and Susan Melero are two of the most consistent Oregon State fans in Gill Coliseum on any given night.

They have both been attending men’s basketball games and other OSU sports for decades, the last seven years with each other.

They’re both disabled, but that doesn’t prevent them from watching nearly every home game in section 17, right behind OSU’s basket.

“My biggest thing that I like about (John) at the Beaver games is I love going with him,” Melero said, who has Down’s Syndrome. “I like the excitement, the atmosphere. The getting up and yelling for the boys and girls and for football… this one (John) knows everything about sports.”

Tripp started attending men’s basketball and football games as a child in the early 1970’s with his father. Melero is 35 and has been going to OSU games for 34 years. She was born in December 1980 and needed multiple heart surgeries as a child, but her parents started taking her to every game in the fall of 1981.

“Everybody from people in the concession stands they know to the players themselves have always been very welcoming and friendly,” said Susan’s mother, Verlene. “I think it’s a real good atmosphere for them to be in… it’s been something they’ve been able to share together.”

Tripp and Melero are married — not legally, Tripp points out, but they had a celebration last May at the OSU Alumni Center. Among the 150 people in attendance were Benny Beaver and women’s basketball assistant coach Eric Ely. For both Melero and Tripp, going to the games together helps make the experience even better.

“Having Susan in my life and having someone to go with,” Tripp said about what makes OSU sporting events fun. 

Tripp has his and Susan’s names engraved on the underside of his watch.

The couple is most regularly at men’s basketball contests, but they also enjoy watching OSU football, women’s basketball, baseball and more. 

At games, Tripp is the constant chatterbox of the two, identifying each player and how many points they have. Melero is no slouch, either; she can rattle off players’ names from current teams and past years. She loves to interview players and coaches as “a journalist,” she says. Some of her favorite interviews currently are senior forward Jarmal Reid and women’s basketball coach Scott Rueck.

“They definitely seem like they’re really into it,” Reid said. “They’re true fans of the program. I feel like, in a lot of programs, that’s hard to come by, so they’re very appreciated.”

Tripp’s interest in sports first blossomed when a special education teacher in grade school found a way to combine academics and sports into one educational pursuit.

“He was an Oregon Duck fan and I was a Beaver fan, so the deal was I had to learn to read about both teams,” Tripp said. “That’s kind’ve how I learned to read.”

Both have competed in Special Olympics and Tripp played basketball in the 1995 Special Olympics World Games in Connecticut.

Melero’s favorite player of all time: “Gary Payton all the way.” 

No offense to current player Gary Payton II, but Melero is referring to his father, whose No. 20 jersey has been retired by OSU. Melero has trouble picking favorites, though, because she also claims former players Brian Jackson, Joe Burton, Angelo Tsagarakis, women’s basketball guard Syesha Thomas and more as her top picks.

One of Melero’s first sports memories was a Seattle SuperSonics game in Portland against the Trail Blazers. Because of Gary Payton’s ties to OSU, Melero vocally favored Payton’s Seattle team over the hometown Blazers.

“Every time when (Seattle) made a basket, every Portland fan turned around and said, ‘are you nuts?’” Melero said. “Come on, I’m a Beaver and he used to play for the Beavers.”

Both keep busy outside of OSU athletics also — they’re in a Bible study at Calvary Chapel in Corvallis, take swimming classes at Osborn Aquatic Center and have volunteered and worked at multiple places around town.

No matter what, though, watching OSU basketball will be one of their main passions with Tripp rattling off statistics left and right and Melero clapping harder than anyone around. 

Regardless of if the Beavers win or lose, there’s one guarantee: Tripp and Melero will be in section 17, supporting their team every game.

On Twitter @BrightTies