I think I attended every home game of the Tennessee Vols from the age of five to the age of 18. My weekends were spent in Knoxville with my family cheering for the Big Orange. I missed best friends’ birthdays and it was always made clear to never schedule a wedding during football season. “Rocky Top”, the fight song of the Tennessee Vols, was the first song I ever sang and I’ve always wanted a bluetick hound named “Smokey.”
My parents would drive three hours to East Tennessee every weekend to see Tennessee football. We would visit my grandmother on Friday then on Saturday we would meet at my uncle’s house to get our tickets and talk about how the game was going to go. Then our family would pile into an SUV to go tailgate in lot nine, right in front of Neyland Stadium. We ate Buddy’s BBQ and threw around a football. Thirty minutes before kickoff, we would part ways to go sit in our different sections and get ready to cheer on the Vols. When I think of football season, I think of Tennessee.
One of my cousins married a Florida Gator and every year they make a bet on the UT vs. Florida game. One year, the couple decided that the loser would have to find and play the same instrument they played in middle school band and stand on a street corner playing it until the loser was given $5. My cousin played the tuba in middle school. His wife played the flute. Florida won and my cousin never went through on the bet. Until, we were tailgating before a football game and these three old guys acted as a pep band. It just so happened that one of them was playing the tuba. Bottom line, that day my cousin put a tuba on and did a really awful rendition of “Rocky Top” until my mom paid him five dollars. We all got a good laugh and a new home video.
Because of my roots, I like to think I’m a pretty avid football fan. I can follow a game, I understand football jargon pretty well and I also really like when my team wins (If you know anything about the Tennessee Vols, you know this hasn’t happened a lot in recent years). So when it came time to look at schools for college, a good football team was one of the top qualifications on my list. I chose to go to Baylor University. It hasn’t been too difficult to change my allegiance, although having my two favorite teams in a different conference helps a lot.
Baylor football reminds me of Tennessee football, but this time I’m the one who sets the traditions. The first time I ran the line at the very first football game in McLane Stadium was surreal because the class of 2018 was the first ever class to step foot on the new turf. I will also talk about how I camped out with friends the time College Gameday came to Baylor because instead of sleeping our group watched movies, chatted about life, and got in trouble for sneaking onto the field. I love football because of the people I get to share it with and I think it’s safe to say my Baylor family is just as important to me as my Tennessee family.
Think about how many people from all life stages come together to cheer for one team. We feel the exact same pain from a loss and the exact same pride of a victory. The best part about football is that no matter the outcome, the fans love their teams unconditionally and will always come back to show support, because that’s what families do.