Year in Review

By Tina Cameron

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Hunter & I on his 25th Birthday

I have been reflecting a lot on my life and my family this past year. My younger son turned 25 on November 30th — how is that even possible? His brother will be 29 in March. I can still remember being pregnant, them coming home from the hospital, their first days of kindergarten, high school graduation, college graduation. I am 51 and don’t feel like my sweet boys should be grown men already. It recently occurred to me that more than half of my life is over which is terrifying and sad especially because I have not accomplished half of the things I want to.

 

It reminds me of that amazing song by Kenny Chesney “Don’t Blink.” I made videos for both boys at their high school graduation parties of their first 18 years with that song playing as the background music. The song talks about how fast life moves on, “don’t blink.”

My heart and mind feel like I am still in my 30s, however, my body is another story. I feel more like I am in my late 60s to early 70s. I need to work on getting in shape and losing weight—again! I am not making excuses, but I have no energy on my days off between work and graduate school to want to do anything besides veg out on the couch and watch TV or nap. My sleep schedule is always out of sorts. Lately, I wake up at 2:30 A.M., even when going to bed at 11:30 P.M. I am worn out.

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Oreo

This year I lost my beloved bunny, Oreo. It was heartbreaking, and I miss him so much, but he is in Heaven with Haley. Throughout the year, I have also lost animals that I took care of as a volunteer at the zoo. It is just heartbreaking for me to lose any animal that I fall in love with.

 

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Corey & I tailgating Alabama vs. USC

Overall, 2019 has been a good year for me. I graduated with my BSN, I started graduate school, and I am doing more volunteer work in the community. However, having my boys living two hours away in Charleston with their own lives is becoming harder on my heart than I thought it would. This was the first year that Corey did not come home for Thanksgiving as well as the first year I did not see Hunter on his birthday. It absolutely broke my heart. I know I need to understand that they are grown, and this was eventually going to happen, but it still hurts.

As we approach the Christmas holidays, I want to encourage everyone to take a moment to reflect on this past year and make hopes and goals for the next. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

 

My New Family Member

by Tina Cameron         

20190928_110613 On September 19th, 2019 I went into our local pet store to buy some things for my new turtle tank. I happened to notice that they sell Red-Eared Sliders which is the type of turtle I have. Incubus is fourteen and a half years old. I saw the cute, little babies and one that was a little bigger. I just thought, no one wanted to buy him. Fast forward a week, and he was still there when I went back.

I spoke with the manager about him, and he had been surrendered by the “owner.” I use that term loosely, as the lady that brought him in told the manager that if they wouldn’t take him, she was going to “put him down.” I just couldn’t believe what I was hearing. My heart broke, and I knew I had to have him. Unfortunately, I had somewhere to be and told them I would be back to get him.

On Saturday, September 28th I stayed up after working all night waiting on the store to open and prayed that he was still there. The employees knew that I was coming and seemed happy that someone was saving this poor little guy. See, he was neglected and apparently mistreated. He was not properly cared for because his shell is bubbled in places and misshapen. He is very nervous and appears to not trust humans. He tends to hiss if you go to touch him. It is so very sad that this poor innocent turtle was mistreated. So, once I signed the adoption papers, he was placed in a transport box. I about cried in the store because I was just so relieved to know that he was going to a loving home. The salesperson said the vet thinks he is about eighteen months old and was told the “owner” never named him. He did check out healthy except for his shell. His first outing was to The Dollar Tree and then to Wal-Mart.

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Introducing him to Incubus was interesting. Incubus couldn’t him figure out—he does seem a little bit jealous and well, the new baby is still adjusting. I was told it would take him a few days. Incubus let him know that he was boss (he stepped on our new addition while swimming by). They are now swimming in the tank in sync with each other, and he is warming up to me. He now swims to me when I stand at the tank, and he has not hissed again. After deliberating for days, I have decided that his name will be Crimson Tide and will call him Crimson for short. He is a Red-Eared Slider, so that is why I chose Crimson. After all, I love turtles, and everyone knows I love the Crimson Tide.

 

A Sweet Boy Named Wyatt

By Tina Michelle Cameron

wyatt outdoor pictureThis will probably be the hardest blog I have written to date. It is part two of a blog from earlier this month which was about September being Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. You see, I want to tell you about a sweet boy named Wyatt. It is easy to talk about Wyatt; it brings a smile to my face and warms my heart to think about him, but with the smiles, also comes tears. Wyatt Edward Brown was born on October 28th, 2014 to the most amazing parents I have ever met – Ashley and Eric Brown. If you follow my blog or are friends with me on Facebook, then you know that I am a nurse at Lexington Medical Center on the oncology unit. This is where I met Wyatt’s mom, Ashley, as she is also an oncology nurse. Ashley and I became friends while working together which is how I got to know this beautiful little boy.

Sweet Wyatt, as I always affectionately called him, was kind, sweet, funny, smart, and so loveable and loved. He loved superheroes (the Hulk was his favorite), cheering on the Clemson Tigers, playing with his action figures, watching his favorite video, The Hulk vs. Batman, and spending time with his amazing family. He was smart having already learned to read and work an iPad like a grownup at age two.

wyatt and mimi adn gigiWyatt was the strongest and toughest little boy that I had the pleasure of getting to know and love. He would light up a room with his smile and gave the sweetest hugs and kisses. Some of my favorite memories of Wyatt were playing with his toys or just watching cartoons. Another favorite is when they would FaceTime me from Texas or call me during a football game to just say “Go Tigers!” (To mess with me because I am a diehard Crimson Tide fan).

Wyatt was diagnosed at three-months-old with Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma, a soft tissue cancer. He had surgery followed by 399 days of chemotherapy and radiation treatments. He went into remission, but then, unfortunately, relapsed – which led to more treatment, radiation, and an extensive surgery at M.D. Anderson in Houston, Texas. Eric and Ashley had to relocate there for three months for his surgery and treatment. This is where they met the incredible Melissa Bellinger who started the A Shelter for Cancer Families organization that provides housing and support to families affected by cancer in the Texas area.

bracelet team wyattAshley and Eric created a Facebook page (TeamWyatt) to keep family and friends updated on Wyatt’s condition. His page has 5,477 followers from all across the world. It is filled with messages of love, support, and prayers showing beautiful pictures of sweet Wyatt and his family. T-shirts, decals, and matching bracelets with the words “No One Fights Alone” were made to show support for Wyatt and his fight. Unfortunately, he passed away on April 28th, 2017.

Just a week after Wyatt passed, and despite their unimaginable loss, his parents held an event to honor Wyatt and raise money for A Shelter for Cancer Families. I was honored to volunteer with the organization and Wyatt’s family, and we raised $10,000 in one evening.

This amazing little boy endured surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation treatments like a champ. He never complained. Wyatt will never be forgotten and will forever be loved by his beautiful family. Despite his life being so tragically cut short at two and a half years old, his parents and family gave him a lifetime of love and adventures in that short time. I know that he is watching over them and his new little sister Emma Ray Hope from Heaven and will forever be their guardian angel.

family picI will always love Ashley and Eric for allowing me to become an honorary member of their family and the time I spent with sweet Wyatt. Ashley, I love you like a sister, a close friend, and the daughter that I never had. Thank you both for sharing your most precious Wyatt with me and the world. To Wyatt, we will continue to fight for more funding and for a cure. You will always be my superhero.  I will always love you and hold you in my heart forever.

#teamwyattforever #noonefightsalone #superhero #hulk #sweetwyatt #ashelterforcancerfamilies

Football Fandom. To Be or Not to Be…

By Shannon Boatwright

To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them.

 

There is no question for me. I end them. Yep, I could not care less about football. Heavens to Betsy, what is wrong with me!?!?!!!???!!!! I’m a Southern girl and deep down I could not care less about football????? Oh, the horrors!

Ok, so I’m getting a bit dramatic here by using a Shakespeare soliloquy from Hamlet to reference my disdain for football season. But bear with me, ‘cause I know I am not alone. I may not be surrounded by people who are in my camp of dislike, but I know they’re out there. I have internet, I’ve read blogs. There are other people out there who share in my suffering. Yes, I know Hamlet is contemplating life versus death in this gorgeous, deep soliloquy, but work with me here. I’m looking at it from a different point of view and well, I AM a drama teacher so excuse me for not being able to resist integrating a little Shakespeare, as I do think he’d consider the whole football shebang absolutely ridiculous.

Cheerleader

Now, all you football fans, the psycho ones included, don’t get your panties ina wad, I have respect for the sport and am not trying to diss anyone. I’m just simply stating that IT’S NOT MY THANG. And nowadays, I’m not ashamed to admit it. I was a cheerleader in high school and I loved the environment of cheering on others. As I grew up, I recognized I love the coming together, the passion, the partying. Would I rather tailgate than actually watch the game? You betcha. I’m not gonna let a bunch of 20 something year-olds ruin my day because they couldn’t complete a truly complicated pass to win a game.

That daggone game they’re playing is HARD. So, when relatives and/or friends are screaming at the TV because their player did not succeed in whatever play…let’s just say, it’s all my sarcastic self can do not to yell in their obnoxious face, “You get out there and do it yourself, you overzealous dingbat!”  Sorry, it’s just one of my pet peeves when it comes to humanity. Of all the things to fuss about and most humans waste their energy on something they themselves could never do, something that is literally just a game.

And let’s just consider for a quick moment the fact that I’m a teacher and the reality that football players (college and professional especially) are treated like absolute rock stars, yet teachers – THE ANGELS WHO GROW, INSPIRE, REACH & TEACH ALL celebrities and rock stars – don’t get paid squat compared to these football people. We don’t get a quarter of the notoriety, AND we are grossly underappreciated… well, it’s enough to boil my blood. Do we sacrifice our bodies like a football player? Not necessarily, but we certainly sacrifice our sanity, our health and time with our families.  Those of us who give over 100% to the profession of teaching absolutely make incredible sacrifices. So why is the world so backward? Why are teachers not being interviewed at press conferences and being hailed as superstars? Why aren’t teachers being paid millions for literally growing and inspiring good humans who contribute to society?

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. A society of backward nonsense. That to me is the world of sports to a degree. No one in their right mind can deny the ridiculousness of it. Again, does this mean I have any disrespect for the people of sports and their awesome hard work? Absolutely not, my admiration is huge. I just wish teachers were awarded the same respect, admiration and monetary worth.

Carolina FootballSo… back to my point, do I personally enjoy the football fandom? Not really, nope. Do I sometimes laugh at it? Yep, can’t help it. But hey, to each her own. If getting all worked up, raising your blood pressure and screaming at the tv or field brings you joy, then I’m all for it. If the Gamecocks are playing the Tigers, will I hoot and holler for the Cocks? You betcha. Will I enjoy the drinks and food more? Probably. I admit it, my world will not end if a team I like loses a game. As I lose my husband, my best friend and other people in my life to football fandom, I’ll keep moving forward and enjoy the passion in the game, and try to keep the big picture from completely ticking me off and instead, just let it continue to be a character study in the absurdities of humanity.

Shakespeare QuoteDo I take arms against this sea of troubles? Nope! Totally not worth it. There are too many humans who are completely and utterly taken with the game. Instead, I stay nobler in the mind and just suffer a bit.

Here’s to surviving this season of football fandom and here’s to hoping the food and drinks are really darn good! As Shakespeare says so well, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts…”   😉  😉

Go Team!

 

Salads to Share for Football Season

By Rhonda Woods

Hello everyone!  Well, it’s that time of year….yep, FOOTBALL!!!!!  Weather you are a USC fan, Clemson fan or all of the other college teams,  Football means tailgating or football viewing gatherings on the patio, garage or den. So, we need some recipes to feed the hungry fans to keep up their strength to yell and cheer on their teams.

Like many households, we were a House Divided with both USC and Clemson fans, with my “sweet husband” being one of the biggest Clemson fans I have ever known!  He would boast his devotion to his team, proudly wearing his orange attire, picking with his family and friends and enjoying both the triumphs and defeats.

In my class, we prepare Faculty/Staff lunches twice a month as well as the occasional catering opportunities and have found the following salad recipes to be a huge hit.  Our folks get some pretty good eats here and they are quick to praise our program. I think we have spoiled them just a bit.

May God bless You,

Chef Woods

Red Skinned Potato Salad with Dill

@12-15 servings

4 lbs. red skin potatoes, diced, cooked and cooled

1 small onion, peeled and diced

1 rib celery, diced

½ c. pickle relish

6 hard boiled eggs, peeled and diced

½-1 t. dried dill weed

Dressing:

½ c. evaporated milk

1 t. vinegar

2 t. sugar

2 T. prepared mustard

1 ¾ c. salad dressing (not mayonnaise)

Salt & pepper to taste

  1. In a large bowl, combine potatoes, onion, celery, pickle relish, eggs and dill weed.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together evaporated milk, vinegar, sugar, mustard and salad dressing.
  3. Gently toss salad dressing with vegetables.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Transfer salad to a plastic or glass bowl, cover and refrigerate.

 

Broccoli Salad

8-10 servings

Salad:

1 large bunch broccoli or 2 broccoli crowns, chopped (including the stem)

1 small red onion, chopped

½ c. raisins (white or dark)

½ c. pecans, chopped

Optional ½ c. shredded carrots

Dressing:

1 c. mayonnaise

¼ c. vinegar

½  c. sugar

¼ c. milk

Stir-ins before serving:

¼ c. Bacon Bits

  1. Soak broccoli in cold salted water for 5 minutes.
  2. Rinse broccoli in cold water and drain.
  3. Chop broccoli, onion, and pecans, placing chopped vegetables and pecans in a medium mixing bowl.
  4. Add raisins.
  5. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar and milk.
  6. Toss dressing with vegetable mixture.
  7. Put salad in a covered container and refrigerate overnight.
  8. Before serving, stir in bacon bits.
  9. Refrigerate leftovers.

 

Pasta Salad

8-10 servings

1 gal hot water

1 T. oil

1 T. salt

16 oz. tri-colored rotini pasta

1-4 oz. can sliced black or Kalamata olives, drained

1 pkg. Knorr Vegetable Soup Mix

16 oz. Italian Dressing

Optional:

Peeled diced cucumber

Shredded Carrots

Halved Cherry tomatoes

  1. Heat water, oil and salt in a small stockpot until boiling.
  2. Add pasta, stirring to separate, and cook for 8-10 minutes-al dente.
  3. Drain and rinse in cold water to cool.
  4. Return pasta to the stockpot or a mixing bowl.
  5. Combine cooked pasta, olives, soup mix and salad dressing.
  6. Transfer to a plastic container, cover and refrigerate for 2-4 hours, or overnight for best flavor.

 

Marinated Calico Bean Salad

12-15 servings

¼ c. Sugar

½ c. White vinegar

1 t. Salt

½ c. Onion (yellow or red), chopped

½ c. Green pepper, chopped

½ c. Celery,  thinly sliced

1 can Cut Green Beans

1 can Yellow Wax Beans

1 can Light Red Kidney Beans

1 can Lima Beans

1 can Sliced Carrots

1 can Garbanzo Beans

  1. In a small saucepan, measure and combine sugar, vinegar and salt.
  2. Heat over medium heat until sugar is dissolved.
  3. Remove and cool.
  4. Chop onion, green pepper and slice celery, then, add to the large mixing bowl.
  5. Open and drain all the canned vegetables in a colander, then add to the large mixing bowl.
  6.  Pour the cooled marinade mixture over the salad and gently toss to coat.
  7. Transfer salad into a large plastic container.  Seal with a lid and refrigerate overnight.

If You Can’t Win the Game, Win the Tailgate

By: Stacy Thompson

As football fans, we like to believe that we have control over the ultimate outcome of a game — gotta wear that lucky shirt, lucky hat or lucky socks; if watching on TV, gotta sit in the lucky seat. Obviously, the actions or inactions of the fans have little to do with the play on the field, but that knowledge doesn’t make losing a game any easier or tolerable. On the flip side, there are those that don’t really follow football or care whether the home team wins or loses but simply enjoy the great southern tradition of football tailgating. So whether you are an ardent fan or dedicated socializer, I hope you enjoy these quick and easy tailgate recipes to make your Saturday a blast. Just add burgers, dogs or BBQ and you’ll easily win the day regardless of the score of the game!

Southern Caviar

  • 2 cans black-eyed peas
  • 2 cans shoe peg corn
  • 2 cans Ro-tel tomatoes
  • 2 large bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 can black beans
  • 12 small green onions, chopped
  • 3 ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 tsp parsley flakes
  • 16-ounce bottle Zesty Italian dressing

Mix all ingredients and chill overnight. Serve with Tostitos scoops.

 

Sweet Southern Slaw

  • 1 (16-ounce) bag coleslaw mix (finely shredded)
  • 2 tablespoons finely diced onion
  • 2/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds

Mix coleslaw and onion. Whisk remaining ingredients and toss well. Chill before serving.

 

Southern Deviled Eggs

  • 7 large eggs, hard-boiled and peeled
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
  • 1 teaspoon prepared mustard
  • 1 pinch each of salt and pepper

Cut eggs lengthwise. Place yolks in a small bowl, mash, and add remaining ingredients. Mix well. Fill egg whites with mixture and garnish with paprika or pimientos.

 

Krispy Kreme Casserole

  • 9 Krispy Kreme glazed doughnuts, day old
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 2-quart baking dish. Cut donuts into 1/2 inch pieces. Whisk together remaining ingredients and pour over donuts. Let sit for 2 hours. Bake for 60 to 75 minutes until middle is firm.

Tailgate Withdrawal

By: Stacy Thompson

For those that may be concerned about my lack of recent posts and a lack of sports-related themes…fear not!! I am merely a victim of TWS (Tailgate Withdrawal Syndrome) — a very real affliction that will likely play itself out in 120 days (or so). If you think someone you know may suffer from this same illness, read the warning signs below and have them contact me to assist in my endeavor to form a meaningful support group…

  1. You watch the sun come up over Williams-Brice Stadium from your tailgating spot and wonder why your friends are running so late…in May.
  1. You sit in your fold-out chair under your Gamecock tent on Saturday morning drinking a cold one and eating chili…at 8:00 a.m.
  1. You begin purchasing family-sized bags of Tostitos scoops during the week…and large quantities of mayo…and jumbo-sized bags of shredded cheese…
  1. You begin to tear up and jump up and down when you hear Sandstorm or cry like a baby and break out in goose-bumps when you hear 2001.
  1. You obsessively troll the food.com, recipes.com and cook.com websites for new ideas to fit with your tailgate theme menus for the upcoming season (which you already have marked on your calendar with the preceding day off to execute your masterpiece of a menu).
  1. You view utensils, food receptacles and serving ware at Target only for their value in terms of tailgate utility and aesthetic.
  1. You pack and unpack your car with tailgate gear, with the same rhythm and grace as a Nascar pit crew…while timing yourself to achieve maximum efficiency and speed.
  1. Your ears perk instantly when you hear the words “tail” and “gate”…even when used in a derogatory fashion to describe your rear-end’s inability to pass through an entryway (you may have to talk this one through, but eventually you’ll get it).
  1. You make large quantities of appetizers and sweets…just because.
  1. You watch and re-watch most every game from the 2011, 2012 and 2013 football seasons…remembering not only the grandeur that is college football but the amazing food and camaraderie that was had by all.

See you all soon!

Superbowl Snacks

By: Stacy Thompson

Football

At the writing of this blog, I may be really, really happy about the competitors involved in Super Bowl LI (if it’s the Packers/Patriots) or just looking forward to a good game. But for many people, the biggest game in the National Football League doesn’t signify the game between the two best teams, but something much greater, much more lasting. Not just the commercials, my friends, but the food served before, during and after the big event!

Ideal Super Bowl commercials generally include a monkey, kid or Clydesdales (Career Builder/Monkey Office, The Force/Mean Joe Green/Like a Girl, and pretty much every Budweiser commercial ever, most of all the post-911 tribute). The commercials keep us in our seats through the breaks in play and sometimes are more entertaining than the game itself. Regardless, the food can bring a good game home or take minds off of the fact that the next football competition is many, many Sundays away…

So, without further ado, here are some suggestions for your Super Bowl menu:

CRISP AND SPICY SNACK MIX

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups crisscross of corn and rice cereal (such as Crispix)
  • 1 cup tiny pretzel twists or sticks
  • 1/2 cup wheat crackers (such as Wheat Thins)
  • 1/2 cup cheddar crackers (such as Cheez-It)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon ginger stir-fry sauce (such as Lawry’s)
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Cooking spray

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 250º.
  2. Combine the first 4 ingredients in a bowl. Combine butter, stir-fry sauce, powder, cumin, and salt; drizzle over cereal mixture, tossing to coat. Spread mixture into a jelly roll pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 250º for 30 minutes or until crisp, stirring twice.

HOT ARTICHOKE – CHILI DIP

Ingredients:

  • 1 (14 oz.) can artichoke hearts, drained & chopped
  • 1 c. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 c. mayonnaise or salad dressing
  • 1 (4 oz.) can diced green chili peppers, drained
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Triscuit crackers or tortilla chips for dipping

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl stir together artichoke hearts, Parmesan cheese, mayonnaise and chopped chili peppers. Transfer artichoke mixture to a casserole dish.
  2. Bake, uncovered, in a 350 degree oven about 20 minutes. Top with shredded parmesan cheese and broil until browned.
  3. Serve warm with crackers or tortilla chips.

CHILI RECIPE

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. ground beef (season with salt/pepper)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 large green pepper diced
  • 1/2 large red pepper diced
  • 1 can rotel – Mexican flavored diced tomatoes with chilies
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 1 can dark beer
  • 4 tablespoons ground chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1/2 square Bakers unsweetend chocolate
  • Garnish—sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, green onions
  • Serve with or without rice

Directions:

  1. Brown beef, peppers, and onion. Drain off any grease.
  2. Stir in the rest of the ingredients. Add the beans last.
  3. Bring to a boil, and reduce heat to VERY low.
  4. Cook with the lid off for an hour. Then cook 1 hour with the lid on. Can be cooked in a slow cooker on low heat for 2 hours.

Cheering On the Underdogs

By: Stacy Thompson

chicago-cubs

Once a year this Gamecock fan goes on a local radio program with an equally-passionate female Clemson fan to talk about the year ahead for our respective football teams. My cohort and I don’t speak of uniform colors, discuss what to wear to games or swap tailgate recipes (though I love a good dip or three!), but instead tout the strength of our lines, critique coaching staffs and herald our playmakers on either side of the ball. We relish the opportunity to give guidance to our non-football-lovin’ (male or female) listeners as we pass along phrases to repeat during the game that will convince all armchair Monday-morning quarterbacks that you know your stuff, including:

“The game is won or lost at the line of scrimmage.”

“The coach should utilize the tight ends more.”

“That player (after an astounding catch or run) just has incredible vision and a motor that won’t quit.”

“The ref clearly swallowed the whistle” (on a big play by the other team) or “good non-call” (if the play goes your way).

I love football, and frankly, all sports and sporting competitions. For this reason, although I am not a dedicated enthusiast of Major League Baseball (or even much of a casual fan beyond the World Series), I was immersed in the battle between two long-suffering franchises, the Cleveland Indians and the Chicago Cubs. Part of me was rooting for Ricky ‘Wild Thing’ Vaughn and Willie Mayes Hayes (see the movie ‘Major League’ to get the reference) to appear for the Indians, but mostly I was holding my breath with countless long-suffering Cubbies to end the 108 year drought and win a title.

In sports, we always love an underdog–a David vs. Goliath face off, nerd vs. popular jock showdown, a lovable loser. We root for the little guy not because we don’t want to see one overwhelming and dominating force, but because we feel like, hey, if that team/competitor with a clear disadvantage can overcome the odds to win, so can we. This year the Cubs were the best in baseball, both during the season and ultimately in the post-season, but they still had to overcome a supposed ‘curse’ to prevail–a curse that was, by most accounts, uttered by a slighted tavern owner who was turned away at the gate because he couldn’t bring his smelly goat into the ballpark. Yes, you read that right–a dude couldn’t bring an odorous farm animal into a public place and the end result was a team that could not win the final prize for 108 years. Whether the story was truth or fiction, it was the scapegoat (pun intended) for many near-misses and missed opportunities. Well, regardless, the curse is done and now most fans are now seeking out that next ‘best-to-never-win-it-all’ to cheer on.

The best and the worst thing about sports competition is that there has to be a winner, which naturally means there also has to be a loser. Learning to do either gracefully is the real takeaway in life, but watching the battle unfold can be reality TV at its best. Seeing players giving “110 percent” and “leaving it all on the field” may be cliche, but reminds us all that efforts don’t go unrewarded–even with the curse of a rejected smelly goat.

Congrats Chicago, and congrats Cleveland–you guys provided entertainment and hope for all us long-suffering fans of the underdog!

What Is It About Football Season?

By: Shannon Shull

I am not a college football fanatic, never really have been. Yes, I grew up a Gamecock – it was a bit inevitable, seeing as how I grew up in Gamecock country and over half of my family graduated from the University of South Carolina. But I admit, unless it’s a USC game, Gamecock FootballI could give a flip what happens in any football game. I mean absolutely no offense, I just have no major connection nor the time to invest in college football.

But, by golly, there’s just something about being in an environment with a bunch of hardcore football fans – especially college football fans! The connection to their schools – oh the pride! It’s fantastic! So, between the great food, festivities and excitement in the air, if you’re with the right people, it can be electric and such fun! When it’s a Gamecock game, I go nuts and get into it – so I’m REALLY hoping the ole Gamecocks have a great season this year. 😉 But even if it’s not a USC game, it’s contagious watching a group of people on the edge of their seats, jumping up and down with the intensity of the game. Whether you have any clue what teams are playing or not, if you let yourself, you can really have a great time. Football games bring people together and create an atmosphere of camaraderie and competition that can be a blast.

Of course, that’s as long as you’re with logical, cool people who don’t take it too seriously and get too stupid! You know, the fools who scream and curse at the TV and anyone around them…you know those people. Sorry, but I cannot and will not tolerate those kind of football fans. Those supposed “know-it-alls” who act as if they could do better and actually would have made that touchdown had they been on the field. Yea, I’d just love to literally throw those fans out on the field and let them just try to do better! But I won’t go that route with my blog entry here, as I want to focus on the positive fun of football watchin’.

I’ve written an entry in the past sharing some amazing football-watching appetizers. Sometimes, the food is the highlight of any football gathering. I mean, any gathering that’s truly awesome has good food, right!? So pair that yummy food with great company and you’ve got a recipe for a dang good time.

College Football Map

Being an artistic person who teaches drama, I tend to people watch. It’s actually great fun to watch someone who is so invested in their team and see how they react as they cheer on the players throughout the game. Talk about a character study! Some folks are so dedicated that when their team experiences a loss of any sort, you can almost see their spirit literally break. It’s quite unbelievable at times. Yet the joy that overcomes their bodies when their beloved team does something right… watch out! It really is an experience. You don’t just watch, you feel. I’ve grown to love it – to see people happy is always a lovely thing.

I think that as I get older, I’ve really grown to appreciate this thing called football season. It’s wonderful to see good people come together to cheer on their team and truly enjoy their time together as they dive into the world of football and become so invested in their dear teams. Bless them all. Hey, if a bunch of dudes tossing a ball and smashing into each other creates this environment of fellowship and fun, then I am all for it!

So what is it about football season, after all? If we could harness the focus, energy, time and money spent on the sport of football, then we could certainly cure cancer, save the world or something along those lines, I’d think. There are many other events that are also overdone that that I could rant about, but instead I will keep it positive and focus on the basic truth that football season can truly be a lot of fun, if you let it. Even if you’re like me and you secretly couldn’t care less about who wins or loses, I think we can all appreciate any excuse for some positive “togetherness.”

GO COCKS!

The big world of college football is something that we can all look forward to for many reasons. And it’s ok if we don’t all have the same reasons, as long as we keep it positive, enjoy the electricity in the air, enjoy our time together and celebrate the game!

Hip Hip Hooray for Football Season and GO COCKS!!!  🙂