How Caps Fan Goat Got His Nickname

Posted June 12, 2013

File photo by Clyde Caplan

He can be seen, and most certainly heard, at Caps’ games, he starred in a Capitals Hockey commercial on CSN, and he has one of the most recognizable faces in town. Simply put, he is an icon, but most people don’t even know his real name. He is William Stilwell, a.k.a. Goat — the man with the loud, booming voice that leads fans in cheers of “Let’s go Caps!” at home games at the Verizon Center.

“Goat is a nickname I’ve had since I was a kid,” explained Stilwell. “One of my friends decided to misinterpret a nickname I already had to mess with me. I hated it, so it wound up sticking.”

Like it or not, he has embraced the name and, throughout the years, it has become his calling card. “When the Caps had their old (like 2000-old) message boards, I used it as part of my username. It stuck there, too, and it kind of spread from there,” said Stilwell. “I guess when I got a jersey with Goat on the back it spread to folks who weren’t crazy enough to spend so much time on a message board for a hockey team.”

Usually the Caps getting knocked out of the playoffs starts something of a “playoff hangover” for Stilwell. It is a cooling period for him and he usually tends not to pay too much attention to the NHL playoffs, but this year is different. “I’ve found myself watching pretty much every game I can get my eyes on. I’m not sure exactly why, but I just got kind of swept up this spring,” he said.

Will we ever hear his vociferous voice yelling “Let’s go Nats!” from the stands at Nationals’ Park? “For the most part, I pretty much take a step back from fervent fandom during the gap between the end of the playoffs and the beginning of football season. I can certainly get wrapped up in baseball if the planets align,” he quipped. “But these days I’m mostly a causal fan, if only for my sanity during the summer. Heh!”

Stilwell will have plenty of time to rest his valuable vocal cords in preparation for the start of the 2013-2014 NHL season. And you can rest assured that he will be in section 105 ready to lead fans in a rousing chorus of “Let’s go Caps!” to cheer on the team. After all, Goat is a big part of the game experience. Fans and players have come to expect and rely on his chant, and truly appreciate it.

Read more about Goat on DC Sports Bog.