There’s No Place Like: Scott Stadium in Charlottesville, VA

There’s No Place Like: Scott Stadium in Charlottesville, VA

Written by Heather

Topics: Planning & Reflection

Last week I promised that the next post (i.e., THIS one) would be about lifestyle changes I have been working on post-Australia and what I hope my future holds. That’s not happening today. I’ve wanted to begin that series for weeks now, but every time I begin, I freeze. I’ve written several outlines and even started drafting a post, but it’s just not working. So until that story is ready to be told, I’ll continue sharing others. Like you thought I wouldn’t.

This post is the first in a new series (which I just thought of today!) called “There’s No Place Like _______”. I will highlight places that give me a sense of “home” and I’m excited about seeing where it may go. So let’s get started.

18-year old me at a football game my first year of college
Me and my K, at a game 1st year

Dorothy famously said “There’s no place like home”. While I typically agree, since 2006 I’ve also thought “there’s no place like Oz”. No, not Dorothy’s Oz but the nickname for Australia. I believed it so much it served as the inspiration for the name of this blog! And after living in Oz for a year, I’ve fallen even more in love with its people, culture, food, and lifestyle.

Since returning to the US four months ago, home hasn’t really felt like, well, HOME. Friends and family are here. My church is here. My alma mater is here. Fifteen years of memories are wrapped up in this place. But at best, I’ve felt a true sense of being home in fleeting moments. How unsettling when home doesn’t give you the grounding and center you expect it to offer.

This past weekend, I had a glimpse of “home”. I attended my first college football game since November 2009, and a day spent eating, yelling, singing, and cheering with thousands of other people made Charlottesville feel like the place it used to be, even if only for a few hours.

Our season home opener at UVA’s Scott Stadium
UVA football

How can football play such a significant part of my life?

Nature + Nuture

There’s no “nature versus nurture” debate here — they’re both HUGE factors in why I love sports, especially college football.

– I’m the first born. My dad loves sports. So he raised me to love sports and it was pretty easy to do, as I guess he passed on the sports-loving genes. As soon as I could hold a plastic bat in my hands, he was pitching a plastic ball to me.
– When my parents thought I was old enough to appreciate going to games, I went. I made posters, shook pom poms, and yelled like a champ.
– We went to one or two college football games every year growing up, even though we lived in North Carolina (our team of choice is in Virginia) for most of my childhood. I’m no stranger to sitting in enemy territory at an unfriendly stadium.
– My dad’s job just happened to move us to Charlottesville when I was in high school. It just to happens that the college I most wanted to attend is also in Charlottesville and that it’s home to the university team we had supported for years. I applied, was accepted, and attended. WIN.
– After I graduated we continued going to games as season ticket holders, and we continue to this day.

Me and the youngest sister

This past weekend, I stepped into familiar territory and relived an experience that’s meant so much to me over the years. I wore the school colors. I contributed a dessert to the tailgate. I entered the stadium 45 minutes before game time to soak up the pre-game atmosphere with friends and family. I cheered when the marching band began playing, grew even louder when the team ran onto the field, and sang the Good Old Song every time we scored.

For the record, I’m not the only one who sings when we score! Whether it’s a field goal or touchdown, the entire crowd links arms, sways, and sings each time we add points to the board.

Half the fun of football is the pre (and/or post) game tailgate. You prepare food and drink, pack it up, drive to the stadium, park, and set up your spread! These have become quite elaborate over the years.

In addition, cornhole has become a tailgating staple. You toss a bean bag at a wooden board and hope you can land your bag on the board (or directly in a hole in the board). I usually let others play the games but dad somehow talked me into playing this past Saturday.

I’m an absolute disaster. You don’t want me on your team.
UVA football

To top it all off, we WON the game. Granted, we were playing an opponent we should beat, but that hasn’t meant a whole lot in recent years O:-)

I’m looking forward to a fall (favorite season!) full of college football and a handful of home football games. The smells and colors of autumn coupled with the group energy and fanfare of a sporting event may be just what I need to begin finding “home” at home again.

Featured image via creative commons.

23 Comments Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. Renee Pearison says:

    Welcome home, Heather! We love having you in this part of the world. :-) WaHooWa!

  2. Gav says:

    Supporting a team is a lot like genes, more often than not family will be involved in the first teams we follow and support, passing on their passion, knowledge and memories. If it feels right the team(s) become our team(s) for life!

    I think supporting a team and going to a game in most sports has a powerful effect on us. Going to a game is never just about the game, but about the pre and post-game events. When a game is on it’s not a day with a game on, it’s a game day.

    Preparation for a game is one of my favourite things. It starts when you wake up, then putting the colours on. Next phase food, making food to take and/or deciding on places to eat near the ground. The nerves of excitement building as it edges towards leaving for the ground.

    Traveling to the game you’re on your own or in your game group on your heading to pre match routine. The nearer you get the more team colours you see on the same trip, on their own pre match routines. Once you arrive it’s almost like walking in your front door at home, you feel at home. There are more team colours around; you’re not on your own or in your own little group anymore. You’re a larger group of people wearing the same colours, hoping for the win, wanting a good game. The growing excitement is infectious in numbers, it all feels familiar as we enjoy the routines and as we see faces of people we’ve seen before at games.

    In the stadium you feel even more at home as you look around at the colours and the emotional memory of key games or events at games generates a warm homely feeling. The songs and chanting can be heard in little groups, almost like a quire in practice for the event. The closer to the game the more people join in, the atmosphere builds and by game time the stadium is rocking with excitement and song. :-)

    Kick off and all the pre match emotional build up is released in song, chants and cheers. More of the same in game, as well as the obligatory advice shouted out to the ref, normally revolving around him needing a visit to Specsavers! ;-) We cheer our team, we whinge about our team, come what may we support them.

    Post-game, is different depending on the result, conversation about the ref, good or bad things that players did. One thing is sure, you’ll be happy with the day in general and very very exhausted! After a game you can guarantee a good night’s sleep :-)

    In closing, because I’ve waffled a bit here, I think you needed football season to get underway, to give you that memory boost of life at home. I’m glad the familiarity, the excitement, the game chat, the chants and the all-round atmosphere of game day have given you the feeling of being home :-)

    It also helps to have good food, chocolate coated strawberries would be amazing. :-)

  3. Nicole says:

    So glad you were able to attend the game – I know you really missed fall in the States & football while you were away last year. <3

    Excited about your new series – can't wait to read more! :)

    • Heather says:

      Yes, I missed it so much last year — seeing photos of my family together during my favorite time of year at the tailgate made me homesick!

      Speaking of homesickness, please eat a maracaron or two for me soon.

  4. Julia says:

    I love how sports can bring people together. I only like watching English football live because of the atmosphere, it just isn’t the same watching it on tv (unless, of course, it’s the World Cup and then I make an exception!) Glad you explained what tailgating is, I was just about to ask! Sounds like a great tradition to me :)

    • Heather says:

      People are usually confused, thinking I mean the “on the road” version where someone is following someone else too closely in a car. Figured it may help to offer a definition :-)

      I’m not a soccer fan but I have so many friends who are!

  5. Jaime says:

    Glad you were able to feel like home during the game. I hope as time goes on you will be able to feel more at home. I can only imagine how hard it must be. I’m not a big sports person, but I could see how it brings so many people together. I see it all the time.

    Oh & home is where the heart is ;)~

    • Heather says:

      Home *is* where the heart is but I haven’t been able to even sort out where it’s been lately :-)

      La Tomatina was enough of a sport, right?! :-)

  6. Kyle says:

    I have never been to a college or professional football game. Only high school. I feel like I’m missing out on some kind of fundamentally American experience. But I like soccer :)

    And don’t write the other series until you’re ready. It’s never good to force it. I am interested to hear your thoughts though :)

    • Heather says:

      I’d like to say you’re missing out because I LOVE sports but American sports (or sports in general) aren’t everyone’s cup-o-tea. O:-)

      I’ll get the thoughts from my mind to the screen eventually. You’re right — when they’re ready!

  7. Sally says:

    I love the idea for your new series. I think your next post should be There’s No Place Like Sally’s Couch. Which means you’ll have to come visit. :)

    • Heather says:

      That’s a ridiculously good idea. If/when a break comes up in my part-time work schedule and all is right with airline prices and your schedule, I am headed straight for your couch!!!

  8. Adam @ SitDownDisco says:

    Very interesting… I feel for you sista.

  9. Deidre says:

    I’ve never been to a football game in the US. In fact, I am way more into Aussie rules than American football.

    I felt the same way about Australia – Now when I got “home” it’s a bit confusing.

  10. Laura says:

    Tailgating- one of my favorite things to do in the Fall! Looks like you had a great time :)

  11. Dad says:

    Ahhh. The wonder of college football Saturdays! Heather, what makes you such a great fan is that you appreciate every nuance of game day! And you ‘re a student of the game which makes you a terrific comrade at the games. Another winning (no pun intended) post! Welcome home. Love…Padre!

  12. Erik says:

    The place must really rock when they are good (which isn’t often, I understand- Michigan State fan here, we’re a basketball school)

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