Hello! I am very excited to be bringing you my first contribution to this years MS-TM blog, and it concerns the recent Illinois vs. Arizona State football game at Memorial Stadium on September 17th. The program purchased a large block of tickets so that, as a group, we might continue to build relationships with each other both inside and outside our classroom experiences.
Since, for many, this would be their first American football game, the weekend began with a visit on Friday afternoon from Tom Michael, former Illini basketball player and current Assistant Athletic Director for Academic Services. He gave us a full rendition of the history and proud tradition of Illinois Athletics and the Fighting Illini football program, in addition to schooling us on some of the rules and nuances of the game itself. There was a special emphasis placed on academics, as here at Illinois, excellence is expected both on and off the field. Afterwards, we had cake to celebrate those of us who had summer birthdays. My daughter was most certainly very happy about that, because I was sent home with a bunch of the leftovers!
The next evening, a bunch of us got together to tailgate; which entails eating lots of great food, playing all sorts of games, and enjoying the sunshine we were lucky enough to have.
The program held a raffle on Friday for the extra tickets of those unable to attend the tete-a-tete, and so I was lucky enough to get to bring my family along. My daughter decided it would be fun to make a jungle gym out of our tailgating mascot.
Gameday is a very exciting time on campus, as Illini football is a major piece of the local culture. Tens of thousands of people go to the game, and many more spend time in the area soaking up the atmosphere. The game against Arizona State was of particular importance because they were a nationally ranked opponent. A win would really legitimize our Big Ten title aspirations and give us a great boost of confidence going into conference play. So there was definitely an extra energy and excitement at Memorial Stadium, especially since the game was being held under the lights.
In a hard fought game, the Fighting Illini toughed out a 17-14 win. As of this writing, the team won their next game too, and so we are now 4-0 for the first time in fifty years. This bodes well for the reason! After the game, a great many of the fans followed the marching band (seen above, performing at halftime) through the streets, singing happily away in the night along to the band’s tunes, and thoroughly enjoying a momentous victory.