My first Oregon football game was overwhelming, to say the least.
I don’t think I had never been in a crowd with that many people before (except maybe that one time in high school when I went to a Cher and the Village People concert). It was cold — I had missed out on the warmer games because I had no idea where Autzen even was until the end of Fall term — and I was seriously underdressed. My cheap moccasins were soaked and I shivered under my sweatshirt as the crowd swept me across the bridge and towards the stadium. I still didn’t like beer at that point, so I sipped a nauseating mix of Diet Coke and vanilla vodka out of a water bottle.
Clutching friends’ hands in front and behind me, we rushed up the stairs and into Autzen. “Oh!” was all I had time to say before I was nudged into the last remaining nook on the top row of the student section. All I could see were the endless rows of green and yellow before me, dark rain clouds gathering overhead and a sliver of that brightly lit field.
I’m no sports fan, but that day I became a college football convert. I’ve read that for many people, sporting events are as close to a religious experience as they’ll ever have. I’m a churchgoing girl, but I believe in Oregon Football too. Standing so close to so many people, all rooting for the same thing can’t help but make you a little emotional.
This Saturday, for the first time in 3 years, I’m headed back to Eugene. I’ll revisit old stomping grounds, and spend most of the weekend reminiscing about games past.
Autzen still gives me butterflies in my chest. I can’t wait to get to the stadium and yell “O!”