There is nothing on this earth that can keep me at UC Irvine after I am done with classes on a Friday. I may have met the one and only exception to this on May 29, 2009. On this date, my hometown California State University, Fresno State Bulldogs took on my UCI Anteaters, in an NCAA Regional baseball game. I could not pass up the chance of a lifetime to see who would win out for my entire love in collegiate sports, even though the Lakers were playing for a chance to go to the NBA Finals. I felt as if I needed to make a decision once and for all. Do I go with past or present? I had some serious soul searching to do at Anteater Ballpark.
In Fresno, you know all about Fresno State athletics. You attend sporting events at the earliest age because it is somewhat of a rite of passage in life. I went through this and became enchanted by everything involving Fresno State sports. My earliest memories of attending any sports game are when my grandmother would take me to Fresno State basketball games when I was in elementary school, which were some of the happiest times of my early childhood.
I did not go to college at Fresno State, however. The Anteaters have been good to me always and I have appreciated it. Even before I started writing for the sports section at the New University, I had been passionate about following the Anteaters in every sport. I remember the many nights as a freshman, after dinner at Mesa Commons, going to the Bren Events Center and cheering on the men’s basketball team. I would proudly wear my one of seven Completely Insane Anteaters shirts not just at the games, but around campus, like other UCI fans.
The game time electricity at a UCI sporting event is great, but it does not compare to a college football game in any aspect. At Bulldog Stadium on a Saturday night during football season, you have 42,000 die-hard Bulldog fans chanting in unison: “Go, ’Dogs, Go!” It is an awe inspiring scene to watch a sea of cardinal and blue shake the stadium to its foundation. The roar of the crowd after a touchdown can be heard from incredible distances. We Anteaters will never have the chance to feel the energy that comes from a collegiate football game at UCI.
Here is a small statistical comparison. The Bren Events Center holds 4,984 people for a basketball game, while Fresno State’s Save Mart Center holds 15,544. Now that might seem like a very large discrepancy to many people, but I would rather attend a UCI basketball game over a Fresno State one any day. The reason is the student section.
At least half of the crowd at any sporting event inside the Bren is UCI students and their voices are always well accounted for. The high level of intensity and emotion at basketball and volleyball games is just incredible. It really makes you feel proud to represent the blue and gold. I only wish more students would go to events at the Bren to be a part of the madness. This last season’s game versus California State University Northridge was a night that anyone who attended will never forget. Fresno State basketball has never had over 2,500 student fans rocking their arena like the Anteaters had.
I chose to wear my red Fresno State Bulldog hat, with the Bulldog mascot featured dead center on the hat, and my blue with “UC Irvine” in gold lettering sweatshirt to the baseball game. The hat has been with me since Christmas of 2000 and has been worn while playing summer softball with Fresno State pitcher Cody Kendall. The sweatshirt was given to me during my high school graduation party and is the one piece of UCI gear that I keep in my constant cloth’s rotation throughout the year. Both articles of clothing are a part of me and I am heckled by UCI and Fresno State fans alike for not choosing one side.
I hear the two chants I have grown to love at the game: “Let’s go, Dogs” and “Let’s go, Anteaters,” and I shout both. I applaud each great play by both teams and stay as neutral as I can. By the latter innings, my impartiality is killing my very being. I must pick one.
As Eric Pettis nailed down the UCI win and ends the first day of the first ever UCI Regional, I decide that the decision was really simpler than I thought it would be. I look at my friend from Fresno State that I have been sitting with for the whole game and say, “You go to Fresno State and I go to Irvine.” I am an Anteater. This is my college and I belong to it in body and soul. This may change come football season, however.
Filed Under: Sports