Posted: Wednesday, October 5, 2011 8:01 pm
By: By Lisa Smartt
I didn’t grow up in West Tennessee. We moved here eight years ago from College Station, Texas. Despite the fact that most of my life was spent in Texas, I feel honored to be considered a Tennessean. A West Tennessean? All the better. I’m proud of this community. I’m proud of our great university. I don’t believe you can get a better college education anywhere.
But I have a confession. I haven’t been a very good team supporter. I’ve gone to a few games of a few different sports. But I’ve never really been a diehard fan. My family and I were blessed to attend Saturday night’s football game at Graham Stadium. We were impressed with the talent and enthusiasm of the UTM players. We were glad to cheer for a team which represented such a great university. My husband and I decided we wanted to become better fans. More loyal. That realization reminded me of a story.
A dear older friend of mine graduated from Texas A&M University years and years ago. Though Texas A&M typically prides itself on a winning football team, occasionally they do have an off year. Such was the senior year of my dear friend. If you know much about A&M football, you know that thousands upon thousands of students and diehard fans follow a long-held tradition of standing through the entire game. I still remember her words. “We were having a terribly hard season that year, but we all continued going to the games. The crowds never wavered. And we stood, too. We yelled loudly. I remember at one of the games it rained straight down the entire game. The players were sliding all over the field. We lost .. again. Yet there we were. We continued standing in the pouring rain until the very last second. And as the players came off the field, we sang and cheered for them.”
My curiosity was peaked and even though I knew her answer, I asked anyway. “Why? Why did you keep going and keep standing?”
Her older voice became firm as she spoke with confidence, “Oh Lisa, because that was OUR school. Because that was OUR team. The team might be experiencing some setbacks, but we knew those boys represented the greatest university in the world … or at least from our perspective. We wouldn’t have considered abandoning them.”
My husband and I have attended Texas A&M football games. We gathered with 80,000 other people and cheered the Aggies on to victory. Though I have no illusion that our personal cheering made the young men suddenly more talented, I do believe that the cheering deeply affected them. We enjoyed the Aggie games. But I have to be honest. There’s something even more special about UTM games. UTM is a unique university. Small enough to be personal. Large enough to meet the needs of students. In our estimation, the talented young men on the field Saturday night represented one of the best universities on the planet. They deserved more than mild bouts of cheering. I determined to yell until it hurt and stay until the last second ran out on the clock. If you’re a member of this community, I want to encourage you to come out and support the Skyhawks. Maybe all they need is someone who’s willing to stand in the rain for them.
For more information about Lisa Smartt, visit her website, lisasmartt.com.
Published in The Messenger 10.05.11