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First college football game is an exciting afternoon

By Staff | Oct 11, 2019

A child's first college football game at Ram Stadium at Shepherd University can be an unforgettable experience. Courtesy photo

SHEPHERDSTOWN — College football has its own images and expectations. Adults see the games as entertainment, a chance to show an interest in the local college and as common ground to see old friends and share stories of times gone by. Students attend because they can be outside, can support their school and they also might know some of the players. Children are often so excited to be at a sporting event, they become a sponge to soak up all the first-seen things that happen around them.

A child’s first college football game actually begins the night before, when sleeping becomes almost as difficult as it does on Christmas Eve.

Selecting just the right clothing is important. The final wardrobe decisions might include a baseball cap, sweatshirt with any team’s logo, a windbreaker, comfortable sneakers and maybe sunglasses.

Just getting to the game can help build the child’s anticipation. Asking questions about the local team’s record and the numbers of some of the important players can build confidence in understanding what is going to happen on the field.

After the adults bringing the second-grader find a parking spot, the walk to the stadium is all new and can be a learning experience in itself. Coming upon tailgate activities with their particular smells, the constant movements of the students with their cornhole games and cups full of brew, the loud music filtering through the scene and the adults mingling and munching on food from the grill is a whirlwind of previously unseen happenings.

At the stadium, the pre-game movements could begin with a quick walk on the bouncy artificial turf playing field, watching as the stands fill with spectators of all sizes and stripes. Trying to take in all the passing and punting drills might be a little dizzying. The team calisthenics, the players’ lively talk amongst themselves and all the small groups of players blocking each other and catching passes from assistant coaches is a little overwhelming.

The sun rises in the sky as the stands continue to fill with spectators.

The seats are very close to the field. And then the visiting team comes jogging from its dressing quarters to the cheering and whistling of their small collection of fans. The home team seems to fly out of its dressing room, bringing on a drone of clapping from the stands. The officials toss the coin, and the game begins.

Hearing all the nearby talk about blitzes, sacks, first downs, penalties and touchdowns brings forth a few more questions.

And when the offer of food is made, the afternoon just keeps getting better and better. A hot dog and soda to start. Later, a soft pretzel and some shared nachos.

The crowd can erupt when a touchdown is scored, and those same people might jump out of their seats with no warning, if something suddenly grabs their attention.

When the game is over, it’s time to visit the bookstore for some team clothing. The child is now an official fan in good standing, with a dark blue hoodie with the word “Shepherd” emblazoned across its front.

The afternoon of excitement ends with a trip over the bridge to Sharpsburg for a treat from Nutter’s Ice Cream.

A child’s first college football game has become an unforgettable experience for his senses — the smell of the tailgates, the taste of the stadium food, the sights of the game and its surroundings, the feel of the crowd’s excitement and the sounds of the band, the people watching, the players and the music blaring from everywhere.