Fanatic Cavalier Essay Contest Winning Essay - Blankenship
UVa sports and particularly UVa football have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. My parents didn’t go to UVa but always followed their sports. From their interest in UVa football, I started to take up my own passion for UVa football that would grow to what it is today.
When I first started to follow UVa football I was only 6 or 7 years old and that happened to be the time when UVa started to become a football force. I started to watch and listen to as many UVa games as possible. Many times my mood would be dictated by how UVa football performed in their most recent game. If they won it was the best day ever but if they lost I was pretty miserable.
Friends and family recognized that even before I turned 10 I was already a huge fan and practically every birthday or Christmas gift had some kind of UVa logo. Since I was getting more and more UVa clothes I naturally added them to my school wardrobe. At the time I didn’t even realize it but I had begun to exclusively wear UVa clothes to school. This started a streak of wearing at least one UVa item to school every day until I graduated high school. I even had a UVa tie for more formal school functions. During this same time period I painted my bedroom orange to match all of the UVa related items I had accumulated and started displaying on the walls. I even named my new dog Herman after Herman Moore. These stories started to get around my local area and my local newspaper ran an article (see scanned article in email).
As I entered high school I became an even bigger UVa football fan. 1990 is the season that stands out most for me with some of the happiest and saddest times to be a UVa football fan. During the Clemson game that year, I found that UVa played better while I held my uncle’s psychotic cat, so naturally I held onto the cat no matter how many times I was scratched. Of course at that point I would have done anything to help stop the Clemson streak. I don’t think I’ve ever been happier or more relieved after a football game. Later that year, the opposite feeling set in after the loss to Georgia Tech. I really believed UVa would win the game and continue on to the National Championship. After that game I walked around in shock for about a week. That game happened 20 years ago but it still stings when someone mentions it.
During my senior year in high school I achieved a lifelong dream by gaining acceptance to UVa. While UVa’s academic opportunities were the main reason for wanting to go to UVa, I can’t deny that free admission to UVa football games was a nice bonus. While at UVa I never missed a game. My time at UVa was a great time for UVa football, but the game that I’ll remember for the rest of my life is the Florida State game. I happened to be sitting at the goal line when Warrick Dunn was stopped. I’ve never been through the range of emotions in that 5 second timeframe after the snap. At first I thought there was no way he could be stopped, assumed UVa had lost, then immediately swung back to realizing he had somehow been stopped and not believing that UVa had beaten mighty Florida State. That game really made me believe that anything in sports is possible.
Since graduating from UVa, I continue to grow as a fan and appreciate UVa football more every day. I was lucky enough to marry a woman that understood and accepted my love of UVa football. At our wedding reception she even let me keep up with the 2007 UVa/Middle Tennessee State game on my phone. There’s even a picture of the two of us in our wedding album checking on the game. After settling into our own house, my wife and I were able to build our own little UVa area of the world. When giving directions to our house we simply tell people to look for the UVa mailbox and look for the house that has all kinds of UVa decorations on the front porch and in the yard. Inside our house there’s one room that is painted navy blue and is decorated with the UVa items I’ve accumulated through the years. There’s an autographed 1990 football team poster, an autographed team football, a picture of me sitting in between Shawn and Herman Moore, my UVa diplomas, a UVa stained glass light, and countless other items. A friend started calling the room “The Shrine”. A Virginia Tech friend actually said that he felt the need to take a shower after visiting the room because of all the UVa stuff. I took this as the ultimate compliment.
I’ve obviously outgrown most of the clothes that I had growing up but I still have each of the over 100 shirts stored away. Now I’m starting to train my young daughter about UVa football and what it means. She already has a few UVa football items but I’m working on getting her more. She should be able to wear my first UVa football sweatshirt by the middle of football season. I’m also holding out for the day where one of us can wear my “Look Hoo’s #1” T-Shirt again.
It’s hard to describe just how much UVa football means to me. Over the years it’s just became a natural extension of who I am. Being a UVa football fan hasn’t always been the easiest thing to do. There are football programs that have won more games, have bigger stadiums and have more fans, but for me no other football program can compete with UVa’s.