It is the first Gameday Week of the year and I couldn’t be more excited. I was trying to determine if I wanted to break down the actual game, but I thought I would give readers some insight into my passion for Gator Football and how it affects me, and others around the Gator Nation.
When I was a kid growing up in New Jersey, I was originally an Ohio State Buckeyes fan. I had family that lived in Ohio and attended OSU. No one in New Jersey was really a Rutgers fan, unless you went there. Plus, with OSU being so popular, they were on one of the 5-channels that we got on our TV (no cable). Even after moving to South Florida, I continued to root for OSU; I’ve been known to be quite loyal to my teams.
When I was young, I always thought I would end up going to OSU, but I soon began to realize that wasn’t realistic. I decided that it would make more sense to go in-state, and the University of Florida was, and still is, the best school in the state. I was a junior in high school when I attended my first Gator game. The game just happened to be Steve Spurrier’s last game as UF’s head coach. I sat in a UF section, and started to get comfortable with the Orange ‘n Blue. It probably didn’t hurt that the Gators CRUSHED Maryland.
After my senior year, I made my decision to attend UF and determined that the Gators would forever be my team. Ron Zook was in his second year as coach during my freshman year and the Gators struggled through the next few seasons. Despite the win-loss problems, I began to understand why everyone always said that Gator Football was the best. After Zook’s firing, Urban Meyer was hired and proceeded to lead UF to the National Championship. It was after the 2006 SEC Championship game that I determined I would never root for OSU again (all of my Buckeye items were sent up to cousins in Ohio). I attended many games during my time as a student at UF, and each of them, wins and losses, were memorable.
Last year, I graduated with my second Master’s degree and moved to Los Angeles. While there, I still followed every Gator game from start to finish, and even met some new UF fans in the process. However, something was missing when I was in California. It was the passion for college football that UF fans and all other SEC fans possess. Sure, there are some people that are really into the Trojans, but the biggest fans that I met there were the ones getting up at 9:00 am to watch SEC football. I didn’t think I would miss it as much as I did, but there was a big hole in my life last fall.
This summer, my girlfriend and I decided to move back to Florida. It was down to Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, and finally Gainesville. After she was able to secure a job, I returned to the all-to-familiar G-vegas. Some may look at it as “not growing up”. I look at it as knowing my niche.
This weekend, when fellow alumni return to town, donning their Orange ‘n Blue regalia, there will be a rush in the air like no other.
This rush will occur in many towns across the country, and I know there are many people just like me that get chills simply thinking about how excited they are for the season to start. It’s the passion that we have for our teams and our universities that allow me to write articles like this one. I am proud to call Gainesville my home, and most of all I am proud to be a Florida Gator. For there’s no other name so glorious, all hail Florida, hail.
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