Lydia Kautz

I am not a big sports person, but there’s something to be said for watching your team win the big game. 

I used to be much more willing to wake up at 4 a.m. to go do something.

Most days I do it anyway, because we have a morning deadline and I currently have a commute.

But I don’t enjoy it nearly as much as I did back in the early 2000s when I had much more energy and a lot more time.

In — I think — late September 2004, in my first semester of college, I woke up well before the crack of dawn to attend a football game.

It was not a school-wide event of the sort you might see at K-State. We didn’t have a proper football team at the little school I had chosen to attend. We didn’t have sororities and fraternities either, though we did have a diet version of them called “social clubs.”

I had joined one of them.

Rush week — called “club week” — was quite a bit calmer than the usual college group initiation. This was in part because there had been a huge hazing scandal in another state the previous year. Everyone was extremely aware of hazing and extremely afraid, it seemed, that someone might somehow do it by accident. 

So everyone was very nice and friendly in the hopes we’d all have a good time.

And we did.

The meanest thing they did — and I say ‘mean’ lightly — is make us walk (as opposed to driving) to an early morning football game at a site was a mile or so away from campus.

Attendance was not compulsory. 

I could have stayed in my dorm and slept, but didn’t because I was an idiot.

That’s the only explanation I can think of for how I wrenched my sorry behind out of bed, put on actual clothes and started on a march — with more than a dozen other classmates — in the dark and fog of early morning.

I don’t recall exactly where the game took place or how we got there. I seem to recall climbing a set of metal mesh steps to access a foot bridge that stretched over — I believe — a railroad track somewhere in town.

I don’t know. I was extremely tired and it was dark out for much of the journey, so the memory is hazy.

By the time we arrived at the game, the sun risen.

The game started at 6 a.m. and was between our brother club and a group of boys from another club. We were just there to cheer them on.

I didn’t mind spectating. I like the sidelines better than the field anyway. I am now — and was even then — far too squishy to do sports, anyway.

While football has never been my favorite sport — despite many attempts by my Cornhuskers-loving family to indoctrinate me — I quickly became invested in the game. 

We scored a touchdown within the first few minutes. 

We cheered.

We scored yet another one shortly after that.

Everyone went positively nuts.

When we scored the winning touchdown — the other guys had scored a few of their own by now — we absolutely lost our minds.

For a day that started before the sun came up, it was a good day. 

I certainly remember it almost 20 years later.

The win just cheered me up. I hadn’t had any particular loyalties to any of these people — much less their little clubs — until about two days prior, but by now I was fully on board. I liked almost all of them and not because of the game, though that was a definite mood booster.

As we go into football season, I remember that game.

It wasn’t anything fancy — just a quick, relatively informal match between two groups of college kids who were by no means athletes being cheered on by a bunch of bleary-eyed classmates.

It was nonetheless one of the only really memorable football games of my lifetime.

Memories are made — in sports as in other things — not just by giant crowds, gimmicks or big, expensive facilities — but by the people you’re with when those events take place.

Here’s to making memories on the football field and off.

Lydia Kautz is the Editor of the Abilene Reflector-Chronicle.


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