Friday, September 25, 2009

A Dip into the Archives, as I get ready for the Alabama-Arkansas game
(And some scrapbook stuff for the first time in forever!)

(Tomorrow is the first game of Southeastern Conference play for Alabama, as we play host to Arkansas. I will be at the game---with, I think, Delaney this time--and will be yelling "Roll Tide" as loud as I possibly can. Amidst the sea of crimson I will, though, feel a little jolt of emotion when the Razorbacks take the field. I will want my Bama team to beat Arkansas pretty badly--we need to have an impressive win as the #3 team in the country--but I will also feel some sentimentatily, since I grew up in Fayetteville as a Razorback fan. Yep, I could yell "Pig Sooie" as a child and it's hard to separate ones self from such a "unique" ability or memory. So....I decided to dig into my blog archive and pull out this post I wrote last year before the start of the college football season. It gives some insight into my love of Alabama--as well as Arkansas and Texas--college football. I hope you may not remember it, so you can enjoy it again. And, remember....join in yelling ROLL TIDE as loud as possible with me around 2:30 p.m. Look for me on tv. I'll be the one wearing red and going crazy!)

Before I get to that post, though, I thought I'd share the latest mini scrapbook I've finished. It's my album preserving my memories of last year's Bama season, which ended with an undefeated regular season and weeks at #1. It was a great year and I had taken all sorts of great pictures (I made sure I had at least one picture from every game day, whether we were at the game or having a gathering here at the house). It's a super-simple album, made actually from a book I found at the dollar store and then added pages to.

It makes me happy (and I hope I can make a similarly exciting album for this season)...






And now my archived post:
I guess you could say that I was born with college football in my blood.

Born to college student parents, I lived my first two years on a college campus (a small one in east Texas), where Dad said they'd walk from their married dorm to the stadium every Saturday afternoon and get into the games for free. He still gets a little misty eyed when he tells the tales of those izdyllic days, long before College Game Day and blue-chip recruiting...when a day at a football game was pure enjoyment (and that's all).

As my father ventured into the world of academia, I was blessed to live all of my growing-up days in college towns. And, let me tell you, there is no better place to grow up...surrounded by the smell of books, the sound of ringing chimes, an appreciation for marbled columns, and a love of learning. And, of course, an unabashed passion for tailgating and fight songs, for cheerleaders and marching bands, and for touchdowns and game-winning field goals.

As a girl, my first love came in the hue of burnt orange. My father received his PhD from the University of Texas, and he says he can still remember the look in my eyes when I first heard "The Eyes of Texas" played during his graduation at dusk right beneath the Tower. At just eight-years-old, I learned to yell "Hook em Horns" with the best of them.

But, children are fickle, and when the University of Arkansas came calling, I quickly learned to call the Hogs. I have such sweet memories of going to games at Razorback Stadium (for some reason, the one that sticks out in my mind was one against SMU, back in the days of the Southwest Conference), but even sweeter ones of Barnhill Arena and the heydey of Arkansas basketball.

My loyalties were divided and I often riled up my family when I'd cheer for the Hogs over the Horns (and, in fact, I almost got booed out of a game in Austin one time when they played each other...but, I guess the fans didn't have it in them to eject a twelve-year-old).

But, soon, no loyalties would exist in my own personal world of college football allegiances. My family moved to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, before my sophomore year in high school. That's never an easy age at which to start over. I cried when we left Fayetteville; cried for my lost friends and the fear of beginning again. And, yes, I cried because I was leaving behind my beloved Hogs.

We arrived in 1983, as Ray Perkins took the helm of the football program. So, no, I never experienced the Bear Bryant era; I never heard him speak or saw him stalk the sidelines (in fact, my only "real life" memory of him is of him beating all the teams I ever cared about as a child).

So, you see, I never really expected to fall in love with the Crimson Tide...but, I did... just as sure as you can't help but fall for the allure of the perfect boy. You know the one? The one with the smile and the swagger and the sense of humor and the style. That's what happened once I moved to Tuscaloosa. I developed a big ole crush on the town and the campus and, of course, the football team.

I spent six years at the Capstone (in undergraduate school, and then again in graduate school) and some of my fondest memories are of the Saturdays spent either at Legion Field in Birmingham or at Bryant Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa. At registration, I got a little jolt of anticipation as I saw the new slate of classes on my schedule; and got an even bigger jolt when I checked the box that said, yes, I'd like to order my student football tickets for the season.

Time has gone by since then, and I've endured the ups and the downs over the years. The heartbreaking losses (how can I forget the loss to Tennessee by two points? We actually sang a dirge in the stands of Legion Field after it ended); the mediocre seasons; the unbelievable wins; and the national championship run (we watch the 1992 game on DVD every year before bowl season, and my three daughters almost know the plays by heart).
Things have come pretty full-circle. Gary and I got married on campus (in one of the three buildings that survived the Civil War), my girls all love the Crimson Tide, and I even do some teaching at the university. It's as if I really can't get away from Alabama...and I certainly wouldn't want to do so!

And, today, there is nothing like heading into Bryant-Denny and see my Crimson Tide face another foe. We are, in everyone's estimation, "back on top" where Bama should be...but that doesn't mean that every game's not an emotional rollercoaster of excitement for me (and whoever in the family gets to go with me!).

I will cross my fingers, say a little prayer (I know that God really doesn't care much of anything about the outcome of a football game, and I usually ask for forgiveness for getting my priorities out of whack when I head to church the next morning), and then cheer for the team that might just fulfill my football dreams this season. Because, you know, the fact that I can yell really loud will definitely spur my team on to victory (you knew that, didn't you?).

It's a bit of an obsession, probably. It's probably not what my Dad dreamed of for his little girl who was born in that small college town (he tells me all the time, after all, that it is "JUST a game"), but it is what it is. (I promise that I still have my priorities straight...God, family, and only then does football show up on the list!)

So, bring on the Hogs tomorrow...and ROLL TIDE!!!

7 comments:

Daisy said...

I'm wishing your team good luck today. Hope you and your family have a wonderful weekend.

Monogram Queen said...

I feel you, I grew up a Penn State fan and Steelers Fan
then I moved to South Carolina and fell in love with Brett Favre.

Doesn't mean I don't still pull for those teams though!
Roll Tide!

6p00d8341c726953ef said...

BEautiful!!!
I haven't been here in a long time, but do read about ya in FB ;)

Cheryl Wray said...

Daisy--Thanks!!!

Queen--Yeah, I have allegiances all over the place too. Texas, Arkansas... but my TRUE love is Alabama. ROLL TIDE!!!!

6--THANKS! Come back anytime!

Linda said...

LOL....pig sooie.....I'm rolling.

Brown English Muffin said...

I love the mini album

hippo chick said...

Although I don't do football, I can yell "Roll Tide" with the best of them, which I did on Saturday.

~hippo hugs~

P.S. love the mini.