Saturday, September 5, 2009

If you're a Red Raider, you'll understand...

College football is here! I know many, many people who are completely indifferent to the whole thing, and I can certainly understand why.

Once upon a time, I was in that group of people. Growing up playing volleyball in school, I held quite a bit of resentment towards football programs. Jealousy ensued primarily because when they dictated to me that their thriving revenue helped to pay for our shiny new uniforms. I guess it was their pompous attitude towards it all; that I should give gratitude for their hard work, not giving praise/attention to my hard work. I can remember many, many times where we were kicked out of our gym so the football team could practice. Nevermind the fact that they had an all purpose indoor training facility (in high school, no less), which was being occupied by other football players, and as a result, left us in the hallways practicing without the ball because there were low ceilings. Regardless, I had a healthy love/hate relationship with football. I never understood why my father would be parked in front of the television on Saturdays and Sunday nights (and some Mondays too). I didn't get why he played "tackle" with my Brother in the hallway just before bedtime. But then Brother grew up and started playing football, much to my chagrin. Yet, when I watched him play I had a great sense of pride for him, and my love/hate faded to love/dislike. This continued on until the Fall of 1999.

By this time, my I'd hung up my volleyball shoes and was a full-time student, holding down a full-time job. I was a regular ol' college student, but I was dating a football player. That summer he and I had shared a couple of classes and during that time, he made it a priority to educate me on all things football. I'd had some familiarity with the game, but I never really learned the rules, the hand signals, and such. He asked me to come watch him play. My father liked going to the games, so it was a given that I'd be there. However, I'd only sat with the alumni, never in the student section. There was a big game coming up and he requested that I be there. Dad planned on taking Brother, so I didn't mind sitting in the student section.

On October 2, my life changed. We were playing Texas A&M. I remember it being a typical autumn night, cool, but not cold. I had on a Tech shirt, a jacket, and secretly wished I had a Tech jacket. I sat with my cousin in the student section, the two of us cheering. That was the first time I saw her school spirit. She had such a fever for it all, and she began to educate me on the traditions. In that game, I learned all of the hand signals, the cheers, the fight song, and the Matador Song. Earlier in her university career, she'd been a member of the Goin' Band, even scoring a place on Zeta Iota Tau. (yes, she has skills!) Anyway, that was a phenomenal game and the very night that I caught the Red Raider fever. We pulled off a very, very dramatic win. I rushed the field and joined 20,000+ other friends at the 50 yard line singing the fight song, and we later rushed to the goal posts and tore them down! I felt a part of something larger than myself and I finally "got it." I knew what that comeback feeling was like. I was keenly aware of all of the fans in that stadium and every where else, giving a prayer of hope in unison for our boys. RAIDER POWER...the double T, the masked rider, guns up, cowbells, tortillas, Bertha, March Grandioso, Raider Red, Will Rogers, victory bells, STRIVE FOR HONOR...all of those symbols came together for me, finally...I understood that all along I bled scarlet red and black. It started very young, because in utero my mother walked that glorious campus in West Texas.

Now, it is no wonder that I'm drawn back to that very place every Fall. I recharge. So Tech fans, watch this video (below), even if you have seen it already, and tell me that you don't get tingles, especially at that last image. Mikey & Brother, you should know it well, YOU WERE THERE! (Mikey, I think that's when you caught the fever.) It was November 1, last year, the day we defeated Texas.

Man, I have to make a game soon!

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