Sep 29, 2009

From the Desk

by Amanda Baker

I have come to a concrete conclusion about Liberty football fans: they are just plain nuts. Who else camps out on the perimeter of Williams Stadium the night before a big game, has tailgate parties in the rain, and claps together thunder sticks to keep warm in the stands a full two hours before kickoff, all in pouring down, nonstop rain?

I wasn’t hardcore enough to camp out or tailgate before the game against No. 6-ranked James Madison University (mostly because of my lack of tenting gear, a car and a grill), but I did get to the stadium when the gates opened for Liberty students at 4:30. We as a student body had heard rumors that JMU fans were going to storm our stadium and fill up the student section before we did, so coming early was almost expected of any Liberty football fan, rain or shine.

So, in the spirit of supporting the football team despite the dismal weather conditions, I donned a huge, dense sweatshirt, a baseball hat and Chucks and found a spot in the stadium on the 10-yard line with other brave souls who defied the elements. Since I had nothing better to do to pass the time, I put my observation skills to work.

I could not have asked to participate in a better student body. After the gates opened at 4:30 p.m., the student side of the stadium was immediately 75 percent full (give or take a few percentage points), and consistently filled up to the beginning of the game. JMU did not follow through on their threat to overwhelm our section, which I was more than ok with.

Not all Liberty students came as bundled up as I expected. Some people dressed in kiddie superhero costumes ran up and down the stadium steps, evoking cheers from their peers. Other guys came shirtless and painted up, even though they looked like they had contracted a bad rash when the rain melted away patches of the paint on their body.

As for the rest of us, who did not want to risk hypothermia (although I salute the previously mentioned diehards), we were content to create consistent noise with our thunder sticks, wave bed sheets spray-painted with slogans (“Beat JMU” was a common theme) and huddle together to conserve heat. Two-and-a-half hours later, we were rewarded for our vigilance with the kickoff.

There was not a dry spot on my body when halftime rolled around. Some of my friends reported that my lips had started turning blue, although I remedied that by leaving to go warm up at one of my friend’s dorms after the halftime show. Even though I did not stay until the end of the game in order to become a semi-hardcore fan (I still have to camp out and participate in a tailgate to reach professional hardcore status), this is one of the memories that I will dust off and admire long after my career at Liberty is done. Although, if there was one thing I could change about Saturday, it would be to invest in a pair of rain boots.

Contact Amanda Baker at ambaker2@liberty.edu


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