When I got the prompt of writing about why I am a fan of Auburn University, I knew right away it was going to require some thought. I’ve been stewing on it for a few days now, and the thought of putting it all into words is still overwhelming. There is simply too much to say. I could write a book on all of the reasons why I love Auburn, but for the sake of everyone’s time and attention spans, I’ll try to just hit the highlights.
I’ll start off by saying that I was 100% totally biased from the womb. You see, the story of my fandom starts with my parents, who met at Auburn in the mid 1980’s and got married after their junior years. The time they spent in Auburn together provided some of their favorite memories, whether it be working at Tiger Rags, playing any of their favorite arcade games (probably Galaga), or even just living at their place in Ridgewood Village. Fast forward to me, and there’s no surprise that Auburn is in my blood. I’d venture to guess that my older brothers, despite going to Georgia Tech and Mississippi State, still have it in their blood, too, even if they wouldn’t admit it.
Growing up in Atlanta, there were always occasional trips to Auburn. Sometimes we got to go to football games, but usually it was just passing through for a bit on our way to the beach. By the time I was old enough to start looking at colleges to attend, I knew it would be tough to pry me away from Auburn, but I don’t think I ever really got to appreciate Auburn until I became a student. It started in the spring of 2013, when, as a high school senior, I decided to go by myself down to Auburn for A-Day and the “Last Roll” of the original Toomer’s Oaks. The thrill of being in downtown Auburn with the thousands upon thousands of other people, who were all total strangers to me, was a high I will never forget.
As an out-of-state student, I knew absolutely NOBODY coming to Auburn. Despite being from only two hours away, only three people from my graduating high school class of 700+ people came to Auburn, and safe to say I had no idea who they were. As an introvert who wasn’t super keen on having to make all new friends, I was more than a little nervous coming to Auburn. However, through two distinct avenues, I met 90% of the people I call my friends today.
The first, as much of a miracle as it may seem, was through my randomly assigned roommates. I had met one of them very briefly once the summer before at orientation, but somehow two of my roommates happened to be two of the best people I have ever met. They became like brothers to me within a few months, and they are still two of my closest friends. Not only that, but through them, I have met so many more people that will be lifelong friends. That may sound naive coming from a guy still in college, but I know it’s true because one of them introduced me to my fiance during our junior year. We already have so many memories together in Auburn, so I thought it would be fitting for both of us for me to propose outside Toomer’s Drug Store, lemonade in hand. We will be getting married this summer, and, funnily enough, we will be living in Ridgewood Village, just two doors down from where my parents spent their first year together.
The second place I met people was at the Auburn Christian Student Center (ACSC). Again, I didn’t really know anybody there going in as a freshman, except for the fact that the campus minister’s wife, Mary Brinkerhoff, and my aunt were good friends. A lot has happened in my life and at the ACSC in the last four years, but the bonds I’ve made with the people there and the lessons I’ve learned from Jim and Micah have shaped who I am today. I think it is also worth noting that these are the people I spend my game days with, in the exact same seats in Section 19. It’s where I witnessed the Miracle in Jordan-Hare and the Kick Six, and its where I’ve spent about six hours for every home since 2013, with great people to spend it with. I don’t know what my college life would have been like without the ACSC, but I do know it is a place and a group of people who have changed me for the better.
I think the prompt for these articles was supposed to guide us towards why we are a fan of our football teams. But for me, it’s impossible to separate Auburn football from Auburn. The friends I’ve made, the lemonades I’ve drank, the classes I’ve struggled through, the sunny days on Samford Lawn I’ve enjoyed, the rainy days walking to class I’ve not enjoyed... It’s just as much a reason of why I am a fan of Auburn as the football games. I’ve seen some ugly games in that stadium, and if that were the only reason I had to be a fan of Auburn, I’m not sure how much of a connection I could have. I don’t have to be a fan alone, though, because I am part of that dumb, cheesy, spot-on marketing campaign that is the Auburn Family.
Auburn will always be a place of brotherhood, of friendship, and of family for me. That is why I am a fan.