Saturday, January 22, 2011

How I Grew To Be An Orange Fan

I am not sure if I have ever told this story but I thought I would share it either way. Many may not know this but I am not a Syracuse alum but someone who wishes I were. I love Syracuse so much that I love everything orange in life. I drive an orange car, my favorite candy is orange slices, 70% of my wardrobe is orange and my family has learned that if you want to get me a cheap gift, lean towards something orange.

When I was a young kid, I grew up around mostly casual Syracuse fans who were fair weather at best. They would root for SU and boast when they won but say they expected it when they lost. Me, I was the kid who tried to defend them but I was also the kid who's opinion did not matter because very few outside my family knew I existed.

I do however remember going to games with my family and watching Syracuse football with my grandfather who spoke the praises of the guys who wore 44. Needless to say, I tend to be more passionate for football than any other sport but I would watch Syracuse play a ping pong championship just to support the school.

I remember being a kid and sometimes I would sneak off to the library (I am 38 so we didn't have internet and it wasn't too far from home that I could not ride my bike). Many times while there I would look for Mark Twain books or sports biographies of playing I liked to watch on television. The one thing I never told anyone is, I would also look up Syracuse college to try and learn more about the only college I really cared about.

When I was younger, I had an issue paying attention (no matter how hard I would try) and studying. Many in my age group will confirm that in our day, that meant you were lazy and just not trying hard enough for most. I think the reason I was good at math was it required the least amount of studying and just simply applying practical practices. I would study often but my mind wandered no matter what the subject (sometimes even Mark Twain books I would have to reread as I missed important details before).

At some point during my high school years, I just simply gave up on what it would take to become a Syracuse student but remained a faithful fan. I would take the Post Standard or Herald American and look up stats of guys who once played at Syracuse and now played in the pros, I would cut out Syracuse stories in the paper and hang them up. But I knew I did not have what it took to get in and had no idea what I wanted to major in so why waste my time trying?

Please do not mistake this post as some form of plea for sympathy because I have lived a life that has it's ups and downs and would not change much of it for anything because I believe it all happened for a reason. My 4 years in the Army (2 of which were spent in Germany) made me appreciate Syracuse even more being so far away and not able to see every game. I have a 22 year old daughter that I adopted and 17 year old stepson who I would gladly give my life for that I would never have been able to know had my life not gone the way it did. As Garth Brooks once sang, "Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers."

Some people have multiple teams they enjoy following and I have some other teams in professional sports I follow and like at times but nothing takes the place of Syracuse Orange. I spent many years hearing the stories, dreaming of attending and reading as much as I could about Syracuse and that passion still burns inside of me at times. I never realized how much I enjoyed writing until I was an adult and maybe that may have made the difference but regardless, this is my life.

I may not know what Schine looks like inside or the best bar on Marshal Street to get in with a fake ID but very little excites me as much as driving back to Syracuse for a visit and off in the horizon as I head down 81N is the glorious view of the Carrier Dome and I know I am home. I may not have attended a class or have a degree from Syracuse University but I assure you that I live, breathe and bleed Orange. And when the good Lord says it is my time, I hope those who love me will remember this and bury me the same way I live my life, surrounded by as much Orange as possible.

Thank you to those who share this journey with me and to those who have not yet but will. GO ORANGE!

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