Irvine’s Bright Friday Night Lights

This summer I spent a great deal of time with my family in a tiny town where football brings everyone out on Friday nights in the fall — a town where players walk like kings. Cheerleaders are known as campus royalty.

A town where store windows are religiously decorated with “Go Bulldogs,” and blue and black just happens to be everyone’s favorite color combination.

I felt a familiar excitement as I sat in the stands, sporting my Bulldog gear, triumphantly cheering on a younger generation. The rush of energy surged through the crowd at kickoff, effortlessly becoming a part of the encouraging force rooting for the hometown.

It was the kind of energy that stems from being part of a crowd, the intertwined combination of intensity and unity of rooting for a common goal.

The field is surrounded with the blurs from perky pom-poms, spirited signs and painted black-and-blue faces. Players on the field feed off the inevitable power from the crowd.

This football field is home to everyone who has the passion and love for the game — all for a Bulldog victory.

There is something magical that happens among those bleachers. People are united for the love of one team, a hometown and ball game.

Along with countless others, I find myself hopefully wishing Irvine had a football team. I envy the lucky universities that get to cheer from the stadium stands as the festive marching band fill the stadium with triumphant music.

When I take a second to really think, I ask myself what is it about football that I truly miss? Is it the bleachers beneath a dark September sky blended by the bright stadium lights?

I understand that we are lucky to root for the UC Irvine men’s soccer team whom own 12 Big West Titles and our women’s soccer team with 54 NCAA Sweet 16 Appearances; both of whom rage war in the kind of stadium that was just described.

Perhaps it’s the football hurtling through the air in a perfect arc, lingering above the players, in an almost teasing manner. Thinking back, UCI men’s water polo was recently honored with the U.S. Olympic Achievement Award. Water polo balls are thrown in the air in Crawford Pool, waiting for a pair of eager hands to catch them.

Students of UCI, we have something to be proud of and something to be a part of. The thing I miss about football games on Friday nights is the incredible sports culture that the ’Eater name represents.

I believe in home-field advantage: supporting the players, our team and our university. A courageous, encouraging crowd can change a whole ball game.

Anteaters, lets show the world of college sports that UCI is a force to be reckoned with. The ’Eaters stop at nothing short of victory by cheering on our athletes. Let’s start this fall.

Last January, we victoriously packed the stands at the Bren for Homecoming, resulting in the largest crowd a basketball game has seen in four years. The attendance broke Irvine’s Homecoming history. There is nothing stopping us from starting fall quarter with this contagious energy and intensity.

This summer, as I looked out from the nostalgic stands in the tiny town of the Bulldogs, I saw letterman jackets adorning the backs of upperclassmen, I watched as girls were asked to Homecoming in extravagant gestures, and I heard whisperings of college applications in the months to come.

It was here that I was reminded just how lucky I am to call myself an Anteater and how lucky I am to be rooting for UC Irvine. Just as these towns have found a home in their high school stadium, I have found a home at UCI. So as fall quarter is upon us, let’s celebrate being Anteaters. Here’s to packing the stand and rooting for our home team. Go ’Eaters!