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We’ve reached that point of the year where the tailgates begin and the goosebumps appear on arms. College football makes its return this weekend with a slate of games that might look bleak to some but meaningful to others.
As you look to your favorite team’s schedule and plan the next four months, hoping not to have your Saturdays taken up by an event your significant other planned, don’t forget to soak in every moment. For some reason that you might find hard to explain, this is like Christmas morning on repeat for 12 weeks.
As someone who covers the sport, I feel the same way. I’ve had the opportunity to experience some of the greatest traditions in college football. I probably wouldn’t be in this spot if I didn’t experience those long drives, crazy game day atmospheres or Friday nights before games where you can barely sleep, knowing what the next day would bring. It’s something you have to love to understand.
I fell deeply in love with college football spending time with family, traveling to games and being enamored by walking into a stadium filled with over 70,000 fans. There’s something about a crowd singing a fight song and going absolutely insane on a third-down stop or touchdown. From Baton Rouge to Gainesville and other amazing venues around the country, we all have our stories, some crazier than others, but it leads back to the interactions.
I have my father to thank for my love of college football. Every Friday he would check me out of school for a long road trip to watch his favorite team play. My teachers started to pick up on what was going on. He would show up with flags on the car supporting his team. This would give away our destination to anyone paying attention, including my fifth grade teacher, who caught on pretty quick. But this was our thing, our time to experience something that we would hold onto for 33 years to this day. He still has a photo of me, wearing this ugly bucket hat and sticking my tongue out, only 7 years old at the time. But I remember it like it was yesterday, because those memories stick with you.
Even as I played drums in the high school marching band during my freshman year (before I took my talents to the soccer field), we’d leave at halftime of games on Friday night’s and drive nine hours for a college football game the next day. My dad knew how much I enjoyed the time together and I could tell how much he enjoyed those adventures. Just like many of you, my passion never faded. I’d still meet with my dad while in college or find a halfway point to catch a ride. You never forget your first love, and mine is college football.
Last summer I didn’t know what the future would look like. My father would go to his scheduled radiation treatment, fighting cancer and dealing with this horrible disease that affects so many families around the world. The small things started to stand out. I wondered what game day would look like if I had the privilege of covering the same game he was attending. Would he still be strong enough to sit through a game, making the trek to his seats? I might’ve not been sitting with him over the past number of years, but I would always figure out a way to let the tradition continue of ‘attending’ a game with him.
Halftime has been my work break, where I could soak in the atmosphere with him, even if only for one game per year. Right as the band would take the field, I’d make my way down from the press box and head for Section T, Row 49. If only for 20 minutes, I was going to enjoy that time inside the stadium with him and let the tradition continue. Every moment was worth it, never losing sight of why I was sitting above him.
It’s weird, every time I write an article, no matter what it’s about, my father is the first person I think of. I know that he reads every word I write because a Twitter notification will pop-up, showing a ‘like’ or ‘retweet’. After teaching my father how to navigate Twitter, I can now tell when he scrolls through his phone at night after a long day of work. He’s still learning some of the tricks of social media, even finding Instagram notifications more recently.
Isn’t it crazy how one game can bring us together and produce memories to last a lifetime?
It feels great to say that even though pops still deals with a few ramifications of his fight with cancer, he’s healthy and that’s all I can ask for, knowing others unfortunately might not be able to say the same. All I can say is keep fighting, there’s a whole bunch of people rooting for you. Don’t ever give up, you’re needed in this world, whether you know it or not.
As for college football, all I can say is thank you. Thank you for giving me a career, the wonderful memories I get to continue sharing and for making my dreams come true.
Sometimes it’s not just a game, as I imagine most of you reading this can attest to. Enjoy it, soak it in and create a new batch of memories.
Let the season begin.
I’d love to read some of your favorite memories and post them. So send me an email and I’ll put together a list together of moments. Trey.Wallace@outkick.com