I’ve been planning to write this blog since Labor Day weekend. In fact, I even started it that weekend, but somehow life has gotten in the way and my brain has been too scrambled to put words to paper (or screen). There’s a saying that life is what happens while you’re making other plans… but that’s another blog. This one is about fall, fans and football. Not any type of football, but, specifically, college football. Twelve years ago, after a lifetime of declaring that I didn’t like football, I was coerced, at the last minute, into accompanying my husband and oldest son to a University of Oregon Ducks football game. We hadn’t attended a game there during our time at the UofO, but with great reluctance I agreed to go to the game more for the opportunity to spend the day with my husband and son than with any expectation of enjoying the game. Well, my life changed that day! I loved the game; I loved the stadium; I loved the fans! My husband gave me a four-seat package of season tickets for Christmas that year and life hasn’t been the same since. “It’s Game Day!” rings out in our home Saturday mornings in the fall. We’re referring not only to our kids’ soccer games but also to the college football games. We decorate the car with flags and pom-poms. We honk and wave at other similarly decorated cars on the 2-1/2 hour drive down I-5 to Eugene. The smell of fall in the air now evokes not only thoughts of pumpkins, scarecrows and trick-or-treating, but also thoughts of football, the roar of the crowd, the loving rivalries with our friends from other Pac-10 schools.
The day before the season opener this year, my husband and I went on a beautiful nine-mile hike on Mt. Bachelor in Central Oregon. My husband happened to wear a UofO hat on the hike. Several times as we passed other hikers, we heard the casual “Go Ducks!” greeting. Graduating from college makes us part of a group – the alumni of that particular school, but until I discovered college football, I didn’t really have much of a connection to the University of Oregon after our college graduation. Now, I proudly wear shirts that proclaim, “I am a Duck” and “I feel Ducky”. Today I will don my yellow and green, my husband and I will gather up six kids and young adults, park our car on the UofO campus and walk from campus to Autzen Stadium, crossing the footbridge over the Willamette River with thousands of other Duck fans. I’ll send “It’s Game Day!” text messages to a select group of friends and I’ll revel at the sight as I enter through the walkway into Autzen Stadium – the players on the field, the fans milling to the their seats stopping to greet people along the way, the student section already full – a sea of yellow. The air will be clean and crisp (this is Eugene, after all). There will be a buzz of excitement in the air and in my ears.
I read recently that as we grow older it’s good to have passions. Activities that we love help to keep us young and vibrant. I have several passions that I will carry with me as I age and one of them will be Game Day. I do feel Ducky today!