I recently had the opportunity to go back to Lincoln for a Husker game. It's hard to believe that I haven't been to a game since I left Lincoln so many years ago. The minute I entered Memorial Stadium, memories of my wild college days instantly came flooding back! This experience was much tamer, and I actually watched the game this time and loved every cold minute of it. Here are some highlights:
I know--most people think I'm crazy, but I LOVE driving across Nebraska. There's something about all that wide open space that just makes me feel free and happy. I love that the Platte River runs right by my side all the way from Denver to almost Lincoln--makes me feel that I've got a friend traveling with me.
Of course, any trip across Nebraska will result in lots of bug juice all over the car. A car wash is always a necessity upon arrival and return!
With our tickets in hand, my nephew Kyle and I set out for the game. I told him I wanted to get there early in order to get the whole Big Red experience. And so we went tailgating, which was not something we did when I was an NU student. We would all get together at someone's house/apartment and "GET PRIMED" for the game and fill our flasks with Peppermint Schnapps so we could spike our hot chocolate! Kyle took me to Embassy Suites' tailgate party on the dock. It was an amazing way to start the game experience. There was a live band, and the Nebraska cheerleaders were there doing routines and dancing. It was packed, but we managed to squeeze towards the stage without getting stepped on. We drank a couple of beers, soaked up the energy from the tailgate crowd, and definitely "got primed"! It was soon time to start walking toward the stadium. We walked through campus, and once again, memories filled my thoughts as we passed one familiar building after another. My heart fluttered as we passed Andrews Hall, the English building where I spent so many hours. Kyle pointed out many places I had forgotten, including the chemistry building where my grandpa worked for many years. That short stroll through campus was beautiful!
I just have to say--nothing compares to seeing THE HUSKERS play in Memorial Stadium. I have been to Bronco games, to Rockies games, to countless concerts, and they all pale to a Husker game. (except maybe a Bruce concert!) Beginning with THE TUNNEL WALK, as The Huskers charged onto the field, THE POWER OF RED infiltrated every person in the stadium.
We had great seats and were up close and personal with the players that we watch every Saturday as they work their Husker magic. Being within speaking distance to #22 Rex Burkhead, my favorite Husker, made the game even more thrilling.
Having such close-up views of the players and the cheerleaders and even the band, I realized just how young these people are. They're college kids, for Heaven's sake, and playing their hearts out! And play they did as Nebraska beat Washington State in a never-dull-moment game
As mind boggling as the whole game experience was, I can't say the same for the food choices available at Memorial Stadium. I have to admit, when I go to a Bronco or Rockies game, one of the things I look forward to the most is the food. Who doesn't crave a Rocky Dog or a Helton Burger washed down with a big draw of Coors beer??? I totally get that there is no beer available at Memorial Stadium. It is a college campus after all. Besides, then we wouldn't have to sneak in our alcohol, which is part of the whole experience! But the choices in food are few--in fact, just three main items are sold (all Nebraska origianls):
Fairbury hot dogs
Kyle and I shared one of each at various times throughout the game, although it was hard to tear ourselves away to go to a food vendor. And that explains it. There is no need for fancy food booths at a Husker game because it is, after all, about the football, not the food!
Which brings me back to the power of red.
Nebraskans know that it is always about football! We live and breathe red and never lose faith in our team, even when we don't win. Our players aren't playing with million dollar contracts. They play for the sheer love of the game and the spirit of thousands of Nebraska fans supporting them. The power of red is their driving force, not the power of money. And knowing that something so historical, so powerful, and so rich in tradition is not powered by money but rather by heart is my reason to believe!