Monday, September 29, 2014

Loyal Boilers

We spent a beautiful Saturday in the shadow of Ross-Ade Stadium enjoying tasty food, good friends, and tailgate fun. We started attending Purdue football games on a regular basis in the mid nineties, and have been making it part of our fall ever since. These days we pack tents, tables, toys, and toilet paper, chairs, coolers, cornhole, and koozies, and enough food for the whole neighborhood.
When we first started backing our Boilermaker boys of fall, we didn't have the perfect spot in the front row of the R Lot. We parked here and there, wherever we could maneuver a 12 passenger silver van, which could be on the intramural field, at the nearby high school, or squeezed into the yard of some entrepreneurial college students looking to make a few bucks on a Saturday morning.
We've seen our share of ups and downs on the football field, from the days of coach Tiller, to Hope, to Hazell. While we're currently struggling a bit, one of the highlights on Saturday was an awesome sack on the Iowa quarterback by freshman linebacker Gelen Robinson, son of  famous Boilermaker baller, Glenn 'Big Dog' Robinson. Not to be confused with this big dog, who was roaming around the tailgate lot.
Although our friend Tyler is a Boilermaker alumni, he has roots back in Iowa and cheers for the Hawkeyes. We like him anyway. Especially Matthew. They go way back. To the day Matthew was born. :)
Back in the day, we had seats in the south end zone. We liked that perspective for watching the plays develop, snagging the occasional glove or wristband from a Boiler as he exited the field, or heckling an opposing player lined up for a kickoff return. Lewwwww-isssss. We watched kicks sail through the uprights (well, I didn't), held our breath as catches were made or dropped, and cringed at the sound of a big hit (well, I did). Sitting in the south end zone sometimes put us shoulder to shoulder with the opposing team's band who had a song in their repertoire for every down and every penalty. (Play the holding song!)
In the early days, we didn't arrive hours before kickoff. In fact, most of the time we were booking it to get to campus, get the tickets passed out, and get in our seats in time for the pregame show. I am the ticket keeper, and one time, as I was hurriedly passing out tickets, a security guard informed me that I wasn't allowed to sell tickets that close to the stadium. I told him not to worry, I was just distributing them to my family. :)
On Saturday, since it was Homecoming, Andrew and Darci got to be on the field to welcome the team with Darci's fellow athletic training alumni. The Boilermaker Extra-Special led the team out through fire and smoke. Unfortunately, we didn't smoke our opponents.
When the smoke cleared, the field fans had to make a quick exit to make room for the entrance of the Hawkeyes. There go Andrew and Darci!

And here come the Hawkeyes!

One of my favorite parts of the pregame is the reading of I Am An American, by Roy Johnson, voice of the Purdue "All-American" marching band:

I am an American. That's the way most of us put it, just matter of factly. They are plain words, those four: you could write them on your thumbnail, or sweep them across this bright autumn sky. But remember too, that they are more than just words. They are a way of life. So whenever you speak them, speak them firmly, speak them proudly, speak them gratefully. I am an American.

We always tried to guess ahead of time what he would say for the description of the sky. On Saturday, it was "bright September". Of course, the whole crowd chimes in on the last line:  I AM AN AMERICAN!
 Matthew removed his hat for the singing of the national anthem.
The basketball team was introduced with a surf board letting the crowd know that they will be playing in the Maui Invitational over Thanksgiving break. Aloha Boilermakers!
The halftime show was a salute to the Wizard of Oz in honor of its 50th anniversary. They even had a group of 'munchkins' running through the 'yellow brick (flag) road.'
They included songs from the original Wizard of Oz, and also from 'The Wiz' and 'Wicked', which it inspired.

It was a great day for football, even though the scoreboard didn't end up in our favor. What was favorable, was time spent together, and the tradition of family, friends, fun and football. Boiler Up!

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