October 4, 2017
Chills crawl up my arms and legs like a spider scampering up a wall. It's half past six on a crisp Saturday morning in October. Still nine hours until toe meets leather and my anticipation transforms into anxiety. The good kind... if there is such a thing. It's game day.
Growing up, game day meant more than just... "Oh, there's a football game today." It meant leaves had to be raked, tailgates prepped, and long drives made.
As an adult, I often find myself reflecting on those Saturdays. In many cases, I repeat those behaviors because they are so ingrained in me. Just ask my wife when I'm more productive around the house. My nervous energy gets put into yard work, laundry, and errands.
Speaking of my wife - she grew up in Minneapolis (where we currently live). Minneapolis is a city that lives and breathes, but more often dies hard, for their professional sports teams (Search "Drought (sport)" on Wikipedia if you need proof). The state of Minnesota has one Division 1 school, not counting hockey, so the idea of college sports is lost on many Minnesotans.
Raleigh, North Carolina, however, has no shortage of college sports in the area. Growing up in the heart of tobacco road (don't be fooled, NC takes its football very seriously too), you were forced to pick a side. Most picked a blue or red school, but I wasn't most. I grew up in a home that cheered for the underdog Demon Deacons and I bled black and gold. Still do.
A typical game day with a 3:30pm EST kick off went something like this in the Wilson house:
7:00am: Wake Up
7:30am: Eat and read the News & Observer Sports section
8:00am: Blow/rake leaves and pick up sticks
9:30am: Shower and put on Old Gold and Black
10:00am: Watch a little bit of Sports Center/College Gameday
10:30am: Throw the football in the driveway
11:00am: Head to BB&T Field in Winston-Salem via I-40W with a pit stop at Whole Foods and Bojangles' to buy food for the tailgate. Listen to a NC State, UNC, or Duke game on the radio.
1:15pm: Tailgate - California roll in one hand, chicken supreme in the other. We would always finish it off with some parking lot football.
3:00pm: Enter the gates
7:00pm: Head home listening to the post-game show and other college football games
8:45pm: Watch the prime time games
If the Deacs were on the road, chances are the game was actually closer to home for me, and nothing gets me more fired up than stepping into enemy territory, especially as an underdog. Whether it was Duke's Wallace Wade Stadium, Kenan Memorial Stadium in Chapel-Hill, or my next door neighbor, NC State's Carter-Finley Stadium, I was rocking that Old Gold and Black.
These are some of my favorite memories. Although Wake isn't thought of as a strong football school, they were kind enough to give us fans an ACC Championship in 2006. That has eased the pain of many losing seasons. As my dad, who raised me a Wake fan, told me, "Losing builds character." If so, he raised me well.
What is your favorite part of Saturdays in the fall and what are some of your game day traditions?
PS: Thank you to everyone who purchased a shirt in September. $1 from each purchase was donated to the Hurricane Irma relief efforts. Forgot to buy one last month? Swing by the Fan Shop and order yours today.