Something to be proud of

Sep. 01, 2013 @ 05:43 AM

Today is a proud day for me. Yesterday my alma mater, UNC Charlotte, took the field for its first ever football game and pummeled Campbell 52-7. It’s been a long time coming but it’s finally here.

I remember when I was a slightly younger fellow as a freshman at Charlotte and dragging my roommate out to the football march where students organized a march from the center of campus to the basketball arena.

Along the march the crowd touted a goal post, plastic 49ers footballs and belted out 49er cheers and chants along the way. It was exciting, but if I’m being honest, I didn’t expect much to come from it.

Then as the years went by a program was approved, coaches were hired, stadium designs were released, players were signed, practices were held and now an actual game has been played.

Unfortunately my duties at The Daily Courier forced me to miss yesterday’s action, but the excitement and pride all morning up until the 12 p.m. kickoff was indescribable. However, I’ll try.

I woke up ready to go and scrambled to find a shirt to squeeze into — I’ve put on a few pounds since my days of stocking up on Charlotte gear. I turned on college football preview shows and prepared a game time snack. I even put my drink in my Charlotte 49ers koozie and plopped onto the couch.

Even though I had plenty of work to do to distract me from the game, I grinned every time the 49ers made a positive play, which was pretty often as the 49ers led Campbell 32-0 before halftime, which is when I left the game for an assignment.

But the impact was felt. The television broadcast left a lot to be desired (shaky camera work, no replays, etc.) but now I understand why so many people love college football.

For so long I struggled to really care about college football because I had no rooting interest in any team. My college didn’t have a program, my parents never instilled any particular interest and I just never found any other reason to adopt a team as my own.

I enjoy the sport, but I never found myself glued to one particular game — until yesterday.

Now I picture myself blowing money on 49ers apparel and game tickets. I picture myself, unfortunately, allocating vacation to travel east, grill some burgers, consume an adult beverage or two and watch a program that I watched grow take the field.

Even though my time at Charlotte has come and gone and I’ll never find myself living on campus ad making a fool of myself in the student section, I’ll always feel as if I’m a part of this program.

I fought for this program, I wrote countless stories and columns about this program when I was in school. I remember one of favorite columns that I ever wrote was 700 critical words about the giant statues placed outside of the stadium that represent a nameless, faceless player.

That story got a lot of attention around the area and rubbed a few folks the wrong way, but isn’t that what columns should do more often than not?

As excited as I was yesterday before and during the game, I’m even more excited for the rest of the season and the future of Charlotte football. So you can have your Tar Heels, Blue Devils, Wolfpack, Bulldogs, Tigers, Crimson Tide or whatever else you call your own, I’ll take my 49ers every day. GO NINERS!