How It All Began
It was a cold Saturday in December, and I had a lot of homework to do. Did I actually do it? Nope. Instead, I procrastinated by watching college football. As I was figuring out what game to watch, I came across the Pac-12 Championship Game. Stanford and USC were about to go head-to-head in this West Coast showdown.
I didn’t know anything about the two programs’ football teams at the time, but something about Stanford’s all black uniforms made me leave it on that channel…crazy right? I even tweeted about the mesmerizing uni’s.
Anyway, the commentators kept talking about this McCaffrey kid who was Stanford’s main running back. Honestly, the only thing I thought about him in that moment was, “Damn, he’s cute.”
Then, they started showing highlight clips of that McCaffrey kid from previous games. My thoughts then went to, “Damn, he’s cute and good at football? I wonder what he’s going to do in this game tonight.”
Well, for starters, he broke Barry Sanders’ 27-year-old record for the most all-purpose yards in a single season…in the first half. And when I say he broke it, I mean he demolished it by over 600 yards (by the end of the season). He scored a touchdown in three different ways…THREE. He even set a record for the most all-purpose yards in the Pac-12 Championship Game.
I could talk about this McCaffrey kid all day, but the point of this section is to tell you how I became a Stanford fanatic. Well, he’s the reason. I ended up following him on Twitter, and before I knew it, I was following pretty much every sports team that plays for Stanford. So McCaffrey = Stanford obsession. Got it?
The Impulse Buy
I was supposed to be paying attention in my lecture, but instead, I was looking at the 2016 Stanford football schedule. I guess procrastination could also be the reason why I have a Stanford obsession… Anyways, I knew that McCaffrey kid was going to be a junior the following season, and we all know what happens when you’re really good at football and a junior in college – you declare for the NFL Draft.
So after comparing Texas Tech’s home football schedule to Stanford’s, I figured out which Cardinal game I wanted to go to. I texted my brother, Zach, (yes, I’m still in class) asking him if he wanted to go with me because he’s a football freak. Of course, he said yes. The rest is history.
The trip started out really good for my brother and I. Enterprise let us rent a truck instead of the small car we had lined up for us for the same price (if you knew my brother, you would know this was a pretty big deal). We tried In-N-Out Burger for the first time (Whataburger is still better). We even drove around campus as if we knew where we were going the entire time. Everything was perfect.
The Next Day (Game Day):
It was raining and cold, not the usual California weather. Nonetheless, nothing was going to ruin this day for me.
Zach (being Zach) wanted to go to the game three hours early to crash a tailgate, but there weren’t many tailgates going on because it was raining so hard. We were aimlessly wandering around the campus in the pouring rain looking for a tailgate, until we finally found one.
A Tailgate Miracle
What we found wasn’t actually a tailgate (yet). Zach and I noticed a few people struggling to put their two tents up and the cold rain wasn’t helping. We went over to them and asked if they could use a hand, which they said yes to.
We helped put their tents up, and they graciously asked us to stay and join their tailgate. These lovely people (Ron, Sandi, Sue, Frank and Michele) told us about their lives and their time at Stanford, which was interesting to say the least. Their generosity and kindness was something my brother and I will never forget, and I can’t wait to go back to a game and see them.
Sue took Zach and I to see “The Walk” before the game started. The Walk is exactly what it sounds like. It’s when the football players and band walk from the Arrillaga Family Sports Center to the stadium entrance. It’s a Stanford pregame tradition that was pretty cool to be a part of.
At some point of the tailgate, Ron and Sandi told us that they had a couple extra tickets to the game if we wanted them. We had our own tickets, but they were on the visiting side, and we really wanted to sit with our new friends during the game, so we took them! And boy, were those tickets an upgrade. We had the best view to watch one of the best teams in the country.
The game was nothing short of impressive. Quarterback Keller Chryst ran 62 yards and (somehow) avoided stepping out of bounds to score a touchdown. Solomon Thomas was throwing Rice players down left and right. Conrad Ukropina made every single field goal and extra point he attempted. And that Christian McCaffrey kid? What didn’t he do? He leaped over linemen, twisted to avoid his tackling foes and rushed for over 200 yards. Stanford ended up crushing Rice 41-17 that night.
After the game, fans were able to go out on the field and mingle with the football team. My brother and I were looking for McCaffrey the entire time, but our short legs were our enemies at that point. Fans were amassing every part of the football field looking for the same person we were.
Fortunately, some of my favorite players were near us. To our right, Solomon had a group of people surrounding him. To our left, Keller was just finishing up his last picture, so we made our move. Keller was nice enough to take a picture with us before heading to the locker room. Some other football players were also willing to take a picture with us, which was super exciting.
I still wanted that picture with the McCaffrey kid, so Zach and I kept trudging on in the muddy field. Finally, we saw him. I swear I heard angels singing, but it could’ve just been the kids screaming nearby. Sadly, McCaffrey was giving a post game interview, so we couldn’t talk to him. Crowds started to form around him, so I gave my phone to my brother so he could take a picture of us with the McCaffrey kid from afar.
Maybe we didn’t get to meet McCaffrey, but we got a good (and kind of creepy) picture with him and that’s all that matters.
What I Got Out of the Trip
What didn’t I get out of it? I got to meet a few players, make lifelong friends and witness Christian McCaffrey’s last home game at Stanford. As cliché as it sounds, this trip was something I will never forget, and I will definitely need to make a tradition out of it every year.
So, Wreck ’em and Fear the Tree!