My entire life I have loved sports, but no sport more than football. Football demands dedication for everyone involved including fans. I would re-create games in my Little Tikes Giants uniform (you know the one with the helmet with the little plastic face mask) in my Auburn, NY backyard, that is when I decided that clothes were necessary. The Redskins replaced the Giants when I moved to Silver Spring, MD and I remember getting cake from my first grade teacher when the ‘Skins beat the Bills (what I learned? winning equals cake). I began my own playing career in the third grade as a center/nose tackle for our padded flag football “Art Monk Football Camp” team and finished it as a Division IV (smallest) New Hampshire State Champion running back/defensive back senior. At 17 and a state-champion, I felt that I experienced everything football was going to offer me in my lifetime, but then I moved to Tuscaloosa, AL.
The decision to apply to Alabama was not completely random. My father grew up in Birmingham in the 1970’s and my grandfather still lived there. Still, the path to Tuscaloosa was not a common one. I decided to go to Alabama based on my decision to go to a warm weather state school and the fact I received a four-year ROTC scholarship. I had been to Tuscaloosa once, but nothing really stuck in my head except a short trip to the Bryant Museum, but even then I was not a huge Bama fan. My grandfather had been telling me for years that Alabama was the place for me to go, but I was a New Englander and moving south was not something I would even consider that is until it snowed May 15, 2002. At that point, I was heading south and taking the path less travelled.
That is the long and short of how I got to Bryant Denny September 2003 for the Alabama-Oklahoma game that made me fall for Bama Football. It was a late game and there was a significant amount of juice for the match up that featured #1 Oklahoma and their future Heisman winner, Jason White. I was a little buzzed from the five or six shots that I had forced down getting ready for the game in my dorm room. Not only was this match-up a big one, it also was my first game at Bryant-Denny. When trying to get to the seats, my drunk ass got lost trying to find my gate, I came upon four old ladies huddled up getting ready to go into the game. They had their radio ear buds set to Eli, Bama gear from head to toe, programs and tickets in hand, and were making last minute preparations to walk in to the game. I looked at them for a second and then realized they had no male counterparts. THEY WERE GOING TO THE GAMES BY THEMSELVES!!!! I have told myself that they were widowers with a passion for Bama football, but why they were there alone was not as significant to me as that they were there sans males. Growing up, football was tolerated by the fairer sex, but it was not a passion for any female. But here these older ladies stood, fully prepared, for this game. It was love at first sight. I realized then that I was entering a fandom of which depth I had no concept of and this was going to be something that I would be a part of for life. It was the moment that I feel in love with Bama Football and my love has only grown stronger over the years.