July 31, 2009

Caroline's Tiger Pause - When I fell in love with Clemson...

September 19, 1987 was the day I officially fell in love with Clemson. I had been in like with Clemson for as long as I could remember, but this was the game when my passion was truly ignited and I was made a Tiger forever.
I was born with orange blood in my veins. My father’s side of the family has been solid orange since my grandfather played football and basketball at Clemson before his career was interrupted by World War II. I always enjoyed games and loved wearing my cheerleading outfits, but September 19, 1987 was the day when Clemson football became an obsession.

September 19, 1987 was the day Clemson played Georgia in the Valley. It was the day when we defeated the bulldogs on a final second field goal by David Treadwell, Clemson 21 Georgia 20. That game is completely ingrained in my memory.

I was 8 years old on that day and was extra excited about the game because so much of my family was in town. After a quick and fun tailgating reunion with the cousins we started to make our way into Death Valley. My seats were terrible and so was the weather. It was a rainy day, and I was relegated fairly high in the upper deck with my cousin Mary Lynn. I really looked up to Mary Lynn growing up, so I was excited to be sitting with her, but I went so completely Clemson crazy during that game I am pretty sure she would not return the compliment.

The weather was more than unpleasant, but the second you came into Clemson there was such electricity in the air. And the current only grew stronger as you walked into the stadium. We took our seats about 45 minutes before the game, and already Death Valley was about 80 % full and the entire crowd was so excited. The feeling just grew as the game went on. I will never forget how loud it got in there, particularly in the 4th quarter. Those last few drives by the Georgia offense the sound of the crowd was just thunderous. I remember yelling and screaming my heart out, shaking my pom pom like crazy (and accidentally in my neighbors faces to the embarrassment of my cousin). You could physically feel the tension in the game.

Our final drive, when Terry Allen (one of my all time faves) drove the ball down to the Georgia 4 and Treadwell knocked it through the uprights I positively exploded along with the rest of Death Valley. I just remember how incredibly loud it was and that it was the first time I really felt the unified euphoria that happens in Death Valley all of the time, and also that something special in the air that is just Clemson. That day honestly changed me, and I have never forgotten it.

When we finally made it to the car and made our way home, I was so excited about the game that I talked in the loudest rasps I could muster because I had completely lost my voice. My total happiness with the outcome kept me from realizing that I was actually sick. By the time we made it home, I had a fever and what turned out to be a nasty case of strep throat. There is a little part of me that still thinks that all of the yelling I did that day had a little something to do with it. If it did-it was totally worth it!

September 19, 1987-that was the day I fell in love with Clemson; the day I realized there really was something in those hills. It was the day I knew there just are not too many places on the earth better to be than Death Valley when Clemson is winning a big game. The day I understood that 80,000 people can collectively feel all of the same emotions at the same time. September 19, 1987 was the day that I truly became a Clemson Tiger.

So what was the day you fell in love with Clemson? What day did you become a true Tiger? Please share your stories with the blog—I can’t think of a better way to get pumped for football season than reading about the moments that all of you became Clemson Girls.

I want your contributions to this sports blog - feel free to send ideas and suggestions my way. In the coming weeks I will be doing a preseason football preview, highlighting the offensive and defensive starters, highlighting the freshman we can expect to see play in the fall. It should be an exciting year in Clemson sports (it will take pages to cover my excitement of the upcoming basketball season alone). But I also want us to talk about the moments that make Clemson special to all of us. So come on Clemson girls—use your voice and tell us what makes you Tigers. :)

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