Tuesday, September 17, 2013

How I Became A BYU Fan

I am a BYU fan.  That is one of the easiest confessions I've ever made.  I love BYU football.  Three or four months a year I revel in the victories, cringe at the losses and sweat all the week to week drama that each football season brings.  The rest of the year I spend looking forward to the new players who will join the team, analyze the lay of future schedules and generally wish football season was on us again.  

It's certainly amazing that I ever became a BYU fan in the first place.  I was born to parents who both received degrees from the University of Utah.  All four of my grandparents were also Utah graduates.  My maternal grandfather was even the student body president at the U back in 1933. (Luckily, I was raised by parents who weren't huge sports fans or I might have been sitting writing in red today).  (In the interest of full disclosure: my paternal grandmother was born to a huge BYU fan, but she rebelled and rooted for Utah).
One of these things is not like the other...

Academically the closest I got to attending BYU was attending the version that is on tropical islands (and whose school colors actually are red and white)  Luckily I married a BYU girl with a father and grandfather with BYU degrees so my children could have some balance in their family tree.  
I'm not sure where my fandom really began, but there are certainly milestones along the way.  When I was 7 or 8 and living with my family in Cottonwood Heights (a haven for Ute fans it turns out) my friend and I painted a white Y on the frame of the door of our treehouse.  A short time later the neighborhood kids found out that Ty Detmer was at a baseball game in our local park and he was nice enough to sign my baseball glove (what was I thinking--a baseball glove?).  Later, after we had moved to Orem, my dad would take us to BYU games that he had been given tickets for.  We didn't go to many, but I remember thinking they were the best games ever.  

In high school, I casually observed and cheered for BYU, but didn't go too far out of my way to watch many games.  As a missionary, my mission president (a former Cougar tackle) let us watch the BYU Utah game (last miracle for LaVell game) that his children had recorded and sent to him one Christmas.  It wasn't until I returned home from my mission that I began to take my fanhood more seriously.  

BYU had a losing season in 2002, their first since 1973 and I began to really follow week to week.  Nellie and I had one of our first fights as a married couple as we watched Colorado State drub BYU in the rain and snow in 2003--the Y would go on to a second losing season in a row and I started to follow recruiting.  The next year I got season tickets with some friends and we had some ups, but mostly downs as the Cougars suffered another humiliating season--and I was hooked.  

I'm not sure how, but rooting for BYU to be good when they were just horrific somehow steeled my determination to support the team through thick and thin.  When BYU hired Bronco Mendenhall and they began to turn it around, I talked my dad and brothers into buying season tickets with me.  For seven years now we have been going to games together and have seen some amazing plays.  In that time we also added Scott to the mix.  Since he was four he's been to more BYU games than not.  

We've been in the stadium together in snow up to our calves and rain that filled our shoes.  We've been sunburnt together and have cheered as one in crisp fall weather.  Together we watched Austin Collie catch a ball on 4th and 18, Andrew George catch a touchdown pass in OT, and we've seen BYU scores of 59-0 and 44-0 in consecutive weeks. We've watched in awe as BYU has competed against amazing athletes that sometimes got the better of us.  Through it all, we've built some amazing memories.

I have loved spending time with my son, my dad, and my brothers and even my sister-in-law (we added her along the way).  It has been a great excuse to hang out and spend time together.  Most importantly it has been a great way to spend time with Scott.  He and I have not only watched many games together at LaVell Edwards Stadium, but have seen some great games on the road, including a couple of bowl games.  

We look forward to many more years of BYU games ahead.  Although winning is much more fun than losing, it doesn't really matter as long as we're spending time together and building memories.  Go Cougars!
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