My inaugural piece for OurTwoBits.com is addressed to the UF Class of 2018. But before I discuss what you can expect on your first game day in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, let me tell you a little bit about myself.
My name is Lucas Dolengowski and I am a senior telecommunications major. Some of you may recognize me as a radio personality on ESPN 850 WRUF; however, my more prominent role is as President of the Men’s Basketball Rowdies student organization (Shameless plug – follow us on Twitter/Instagram @MBKRowdies). You can find me in the front row of just about every home basketball game. While hoops are my passion, I am a HUGE sports fan in general. The Packers, Yankees, Red Wings and Pistons (yes, I know they’re rather scattered geographically) are my teams. I’ve aspired to be a sports broadcaster since the age of ten, and I’ve already started to live that dream at the greatest school in the world. One caveat to all this: I actually grew up a Gator hater. I’m almost ashamed to say it, but it was true. Originally from The Great Lakes State, I was raised as a Michigan Wolverine and a brother of the Big Ten. Even as a resident of Orlando for 15+ years, when it came to Florida and the SEC…I was, as the kids say these days, not about that life.
But when I received my acceptance letter back in 2011, I knew immediately that this was the place for me. Gator Nation and the city of Gainesville both have a way of latching onto your heart and not letting go. That’s why I am writing this for all the newcomers on campus as the Florida football season opener approaches. Some of you freshmen have grown up in households that bleed orange and blue, or you have already witnessed a football game in The Swamp. But for the majority, your true induction into the Florida family will take place on August 30th.
My very first Gator game was back in 2010 (my senior year of high school, and I had just applied to UF), when Florida lost to LSU thanks to the infamous fake field goal. It was a fun experience despite the loss, but it didn’t really get me riled up. Fast forward to September 3, 2011: my first game as a student. Florida Atlantic was in town for the season opener, a night game, and Coach Muschamp’s debut. His defense suffocated the Owls and the Orange & Blue were victorious, 41-3. Jeff Driskel even played in mop-up duty.
While I remember quite a bit about what happened in The Swamp that night, what comes to mind first are the emotions I felt; these are likely the emotions you’ll feel too. At first, anxiety – the only negative things about night games is that you wait around ALL DAY just wanting to get into the stadium. Once you’ve flashed your Gator1 and scanned your ticket, there is nothing like the feeling that arises when you walk through the tunnel to your section. The 90,000 seats are filling with fans, the music is bumping, players are warming up, and a plethora of different scents pierces the humidity. Soak this in, because this experience – the first experience – is the most satisfying. When Chubbs (ironically, whose hand was bit off by a gator) tells Happy Gilmore, “Go to your happy place,” that’s one of the moments I would choose. You likely will too.
As kickoff nears, your adrenaline will peak when the video of alligators swimming plays to the chorus of thousands of hands chomping in unison. There is no better entrance in college football. Guaranteed. From there, just enjoy yourselves and cheer the Gators on to victory. Cherish the opportunity you have to take part in the amazing tradition that is Florida football.
To sum it all up, here are some tips and suggestions for your first football game as a student at the University of Florida:
- Get into the stadium early. I recommend 30-45 minutes before kickoff. You avoid long lines at the student ticket gates. Not only that, but you DEFINITELY don’t want to miss the traditional “Orange! Blue!” cheer, Mr. Two Bits, the “Gators” spell out, or the team running out of the tunnel.
- I certainly do not condone underage drinking. However, if you do decide to drink, do it in moderation. You don’t want to be the token drunk guy/girl in the student section. People want to watch the game, not take care of you.
- Learn the words to the fight song, alma mater and “We Are The Boys.” Your friends will be impressed and will probably want to follow suit.
- THE GATOR CHOMP IS RIGHT ARM OVER LEFT ARM. Please execute this correctly.
- When the Gators score, high five anyone and everyone in your vicinity. Don’t just limit your excitement to your group of friends. We’re all a part of Gator Nation!
- Don’t leave the contest early, no matter the score. Your post game debauchery can wait a few extra minutes. And when the clock does hit zero, head over towards the band and sing the alma mater with the team.
- And most importantly…BE LOUD!