Like a lot of people, I was born into the Auburn family. My parents met in the late 70s at Auburn, and after two earlier attempts at a perfect child, strike 3 (me) came along. But the roots ran deeper than just my parents. My grandfather, on my mother's side, graduated from Auburn when it was still Alabama Polytech (API). So it was long predestined that I'd be cheering for the boys in Blue and Orange.
Over the years I picked up my rabid fandom from my dad. I remember, in the midst of moving to Tennessee in 2004, we would stop whatever we were doing in order to watch incredible run Auburn was making. It wasn't until I started looking at colleges and universities that I really started paying attention to Auburn. The 2007 Florida game solidified that this was my team, never will I forget that feeling of pride watching Wes shut up every single Florida fan in that stadium.
The first time I set foot on Auburn's campus as a student in 2010, I was completely taken with it. I knew I had found where I was meant to be. And yet, I had never experienced an Auburn game in person. That would all soon change. On September 4, 2010, I'm fairly certain I shed a tear as I watched Nova soar across the stadium. I high-fived fellow classmates as Cam scrambled for a long TD run, and celebrated the win with my first rolling at Toomer's. I think I established myself as an Auburn fanatic in January that following year. Wes Byrum kicks a short FG that felt like it lasted an eternity. Myself and about 15-20 friends were crammed into a dorm room, and we exploded with cheers and screams of what can only be described as pure euphoria. I dashed into the bathroom, grabbed two rolls of toilet paper in each hand, and yelled "I'll pay you back next week!" as I took off sprinting from the Village to Toomer's to celebrate something that I didn't think I'd ever see in my life.
Since those years, I've grown to love all Auburn sports. In the spring of 2011, I found myself with a free afternoon thanks to a cancelled class. I remembered that Auburn had a baseball game that day, and since I had never watched Auburn play baseball before, I figured I'd check it out. That would be the day that I became a HUGE Auburn baseball fan. I arrived some time during the 2nd inning, and as I walked onto the walkway to head to the student seating, the opposing pitcher tried to pick off an Auburn base runner - to no avail. My ears were then greeted by a boisterous "NOT EVEN.." followed by a group of students responding with "CLOSE!". I thought it was one of the greatest things I'd ever heard, and all I wanted to do was be near those people. I found them, and decided to sit a couple rows back, so as not to just be some random guy who crashed the party. They continued to heckle through out the game, and it took everything within me to not be constantly laughing.
Another pick off attempt was made a few innings later, and this time I joined in on the "NOT EVEN...CLOSE" heckle. I guess one of the guys picked up on a new voice in the mix, because he turned around and told me to be louder. And so I was. This began a 4 year stint of being in Section 111, Auburn's baseball (and occasionally other sport) hecklers. Most people think of hecklers as being crude, obnoxious fans who just yell at players during a game. And while we were obnoxious, and did yell, we tried to be clever and at the same time clean with our heckles (no cussing, no bringing up moms and sisters, etc.). Because Plainsman Park was always called a family environment, and we respected that. Going to Auburn baseball games quickly became the thing I looked forward to doing in the spring, and it was a source of nearly endless laughs and just general good times.
Working for the swim team opened me up to sports outside the traditional 3 (football, basketball, baseball), and showed that we are straight up DOMINANT in a lot of things. I guess you could call Auburn a non-traditional traditional powerhouse (that makes sense, right?).
But if I had to get right down to the heart of it all, I'm not an Auburn fan because of my parents, or because we win a lot of games. I'm an Auburn fan because of the Auburn family: a community of people that love their team, celebrate the wins, lament the losses, but also understand that there is more to it all than sports, and that winning isn't all that matters (even though it's fun as hell when we do win). And because Auburn men and women believe such things, I believe in Auburn, and love it.
War. Damn. Eagle.