|Kidd Brewer Stadium|
2012 was originally supposed be my local, North Carolina tour. I firmed up plans to go to App State in the spring and had hoped to add East Carolina (known for its passionate fan base, as well) as the fall approached. My dad's worsening condition took ECU off the list and made Notre Dame's final home game of the season my second and final tour stop. One week prior to heading back to South Bend, I made the trek west from my house in central NC to Boone - one of my absolute favorite places to visit when I was in college, but also a university whose football team I had never previously seen live (despite numerous opportunities). The trip got off to a rocky start when, on the night before, my buddy Chris contracted a strange illness that made him unable to go with me. I halfheartedly attempted to find someone to take the ticket, but knew of a few others that were going to be in town for the game. I decided to go it alone. Oddly, 2012's tour was completely flown solo. I went to App and Notre Dame by myself. App was a game-time decision for me. I awoke that morning and decided that it was a gorgeous fall day perfect for watching football. I contacted an old high school friend named Sharon, who I had fortunately been working with over the previous year on our high school reunion. I say fortunately because, frankly, I had not seen her in over half a decade before the reunion planning. If it were not for the reunion, I might not have known that she was going. She turned out to be a major reason why my App football experience was so positive. I called her once I arrived in Boone and was ushered right over to her awesome tailgating spot.
Most of my tour stops have found me aimlessly wandering prior to games, drinking a beer provided by an on-the-street venue and soaking in the unfamiliarity of the given campus. I had been to App a dozen times. I wanted the "I'm a huge App fan" tailgating experience; Sharon, her husband, and her friends were the perfect group to be around for exactly that. They knew what they were doing; they had done this tailgating routine in that very tailgating spot for every home game over several previous seasons. Nice people, all of which welcomed the lonely stranger who came to the game by himself with warm greetings and offerings for various drinks. Thank you again, Sharon...it was great tailgating with you "at The Rock." All around her spot next to the stadium, there were thousands of Mountaineer fans gearing up for a shot at another Southern Conference Championship (which is what they achieved that day with a victory over rival Furman).
|This was a unique tailgating vehicle|
|Me and Mr. Mustachio, Dean|
I'll always remember App State as site of some of my most enjoyable college experiences. I've never met anyone that went there that didn't know how to have a good time. Maybe it's a pre-requisite to attend, being adept at having fun. As I found out in 2012, it's also a school that has found the right formula on Saturdays, combining the beautiful Boone atmosphere with rich modern football history. I had a newborn and wife to get home to that evening, but I imagine from past experience that from "The Rock" to Klondike to Geno's, App State was hopping after securing another championship for the trophy case.