Welcome to the refreshed Daily Stampede! To celebrate the new look and feel of our sports communities, we’re sharing stories of how and why we became fans of our favorite teams.
If you’d like to share your story, head over to the FanPosts to write your own post. Each FanPost will be entered into a drawing to win a $500 Fanatics gift card. We’re collecting all of the stories here and featuring the best ones across our network as well. Come Fan With Us!
(This has been a topic here before. Some of us shared our stories eons ago... so we’re letting some of the newer writers take on this assignment.)
I moved to the U.S. from Northern Ireland when I was four and had no idea who or what USF was. I didn’t learn what it was until 2001, when my friend Phil (pictured above in blue shorts) and his family took me to my first Bulls football game. I was hooked.
I was in the Junior Bulls Club and was even pictured in one of their brochures. I loved every bit of the experience of rooting for Marquel Blackwell and DEEEEEAAAAAANNNNDDDDDRRRRRREEEEEEWWWWW RUUUUUUUBIN. I was at every big home game, Louisville 2005? Yup. WVU 2007? Yessir. The beatdown of C. in 2007? You know it. Kansas 2008? Oh yeah. Sat in the FSU student section in 2009 (hottest game ever).
USF was my dream school since I was ten, and there was nothing that was going to stop me from going there. It was a surreal moment when I received my acceptance letter in the mail. I still have it to this day. I think I’m one of a very small group of people that would say USF was their dream school, but I’m proud of it. I wouldn’t change a thing. #GoBulls
Full disclosure: USF wasn’t my first choice or my dream school. I was another jackwagon who had USF as a second choice. I grew up a Northwestern fan, a consequence of both parents being alumni, and only knew USF existed because of that 2007 season. But what I did see and hear of them that year was incredible. They were high on my list after that.
When it came time to start looking at colleges, I toured USF. That’s it. I didn’t need to look anywhere else. I knew it was the school I wanted to go to if I wasn’t accepted to Northwestern. I felt at home walking around campus. And I also knew that C’s in AP classes don’t get you into a pseudo-Ivy League school.
I truly fell in love with USF at my first soccer game: August 2013, the Rowdies Cup against UTampa, and my first experience with the Goalmouths. The football team didn’t exactly endear itself to me that year, but the soccer team already had me too far down the rabbit hole. They were my first true love and the biggest reason I bought into USF.
My path to USF could have been a lot easier than I made it. Born and raised in Tampa, I attended nearby Plant High School, and USF football was always a big part of my life. I spent pretty much every Saturday in the fall from ages 7-18 at Ray Jay. I was there for the WVU upset, I road-tripped it to Charlotte for the bowl win over Clemson, and my personal favorite was in Tallahassee for the 2009 win over the Noles.
Unfortunately, in my last few years of high school I never really considered USF for some reason. I always told myself (and my family) that I wanted to get out of Tampa. Go out of state, explore, do something different. I certainly didn’t want to attend a school right in my backyard. My only visits to the USF campus at this point had been our high school concert band MPA performance and a few trips to the Sun Dome. I went on to attend the University of Alabama my freshman year before transferring home.
Best decision I ever made. USF opened up so many opportunities for me in my hometown that I still wonder to this day why I didn’t give it a shot to begin with. Internships, broadcasting opportunities with various club sports, and just the right amount of campus life. It also gave me the opportunity to reconnect with my beloved Tampa sports teams, with which I continue to be in a serious love/hate relationship.
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