Before going to college I had never actually been to a live football game and so I didn’t really know what to expect. I followed college football (go FSU!) and watched NFL games at home (go Patriots!), but that was the extent of my game day experience. All I knew was that with all the intensity of the games, it was going to be so much better being there in person.
In the fall semester of my freshman year, the first game of the season was coming up quick, only a few weeks into the school year. Virginia Tech at Florida State. My new friend, Carissa invited me to go to the game with her. Thankfully she had gone to games before and could guide me to awesome game day. She said she had a whole group of friends that were going together and warned me that they get really into the spirit. So into the spirit, that they paint their bodies garnet and gold checkerboards and regularly get featured on TV. We got to the stadium almost two hours early and waited all that time in the scorching sun for the game to start. Obviously my inexperience made me a little too eager and anxious to arrive at the stadium at a normal time. However because we arrived so early, we were able to get awesome seats three rows from the front on the ten yard line.
Before the game began, FSU had some traditions to observe. The band was getting the crowd hyped up by playing the fight song and war chant. After one of the drum majors came onto the field and led us in a few cheers with the band, Chief Osceola rode Renegade right into the middle of the the field and threw down the spear and responded by shouting “HUUUHHH” as the spear hit the ground. Since this was my first game I definitely didn’t know how to participate in all the different things happening around me but I was really glad I was sitting around some older students who actually knew what they were doing. The opening was definitely my favorite part of the game because there was such solidarity from the fans, all knowing what to do as each tradition was completed and even knowing the lyrics and dance for the fight song!
The entire student section was on their feet the entire game cheering and booing and giving advice to the coach that clearly couldn’t hear them from across the field. Throughout the game we would shout so loudly when our opponents had the ball, I thought my throat would be sore the next day for sure. Just by being there and supporting FSU, I felt like part of that team coming together with other students and past alumni to have a great time. The interactive fan experience was incredible. Seeing the cheerleaders in person, the amazing band halftime show, and the crowd pulsing with energy and support was very surreal to me because I had seen it all on TV before, but being there was so much better and made everything more intense. When everyone was doing the tomahawk chop, I could see everyone’s arms moving from across the stadium and after the band stopped playing the crowd was still chanting. Later, I remember reading an article talking about the biggest obstacles for teams coming to FSU to play was that the fans were a large part of influencing the atmosphere on the field. After that night, I could feel exactly why our opposing team had a hard time drowning out the noise and staying focused. At the end of the night, we unfortunately lost, but for me that game was ultimately a win because it was just the beginning of my fun at college football games.