The 2018 LSU Football Season Changed My Life

The 2018 LSU Football Season Changed My Life

I've loved LSU football my whole life, but my first year as an LSU Tiger watching the games live has changed my life. There is nothing like singing Callin' Baton Rouge with 102,320 of your closest friends as kick-off time grows closer. My first season in Tiger Stadium has changed my life and I couldn't be happier.

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Louisiana sports fans are a whole different breed of people. For LSU fans the saying "Live Purple Love Gold" goes way beyond sports. It is who we are and it is a major part of our lives. From infants to the elderly, the devotion to the Tigers is deeply rooted across the Sportsman's Paradise and across the nation. We are used to losing some and winning some — and we are definitely used to losing games we should have won and used to winning games we should have lost. That's something that makes our fans true blue. We love the team when they're down- and we love them when they're up.

This 2018 season has drug us through a whole range of emotions. We defeated the odds and beat Miami in the first week of the season. Two weeks later I sat and watched as we defeated Auburn by 1 point in a last-second field goal by none other than Cole Tracy. The 21-22 miracle was an answer to our prayers, as my friends and I literally knelt on the floor holding hands and prayed for the kick to be good. At that moment our season changed for the better.

Our happiness was further elevated two weeks later by defeating Ole Miss in Tiger Stadium — where the chance of rain is NEVER (even though we were soaked to the core by the end of the game). At the end of the night I had to throw away my favorite pair of white pants from the dirt and rain - but watching LSU beat another SEC team in Tiger Stadium for the first time live was worth every second.

Hoping our luck would stick and we would win, my friends and I trekked halfway across the country from Baton Rouge, Louisiana to Gainesville, Florida to watch LSU take on their next opponent. Smuggling six (yes six) people across state lines in a four-person car is something I will never forget as long as I live. The drive there was only supposed to be eight hours, we made it in 14. The Tigers lost in the Swamp, but making a pit stop to play in the waves on the way home made up for it for sure. Our spirits were a little crushed, but as always we knew our Tigers would come back from it.

Our sadness quickly changed to elation again the next week as the Tigers beat the #2 team in the country at the time- the Georgia Bulldogs. I had never seen Tiger Stadium so full of life or heard it so loud. Storming the field after the victory was a moment that students and fans alike will never forget. If you could see us all carrying "souvenirs" out of the stadium for us to remember the game forever you'd understand how happy we were. I have scars on the back of my ankles from where I cut myself on the fence as I jumped over in my heels. As a girl who grew up in metro Atlanta and seeing all of her UGA fan friends so confused and upset - it was one of the best moments of my life.

The next week provided us a win over Mississippi State (once again in the pouring rain) and then a bye week to prepare for what every LSU fan dreads — Alabama. With #FreeDevinWhite all over campus and College GameDay setting up in the Quad, the anxious and ominous feeling surrounding Baton Rouge is a feeling I will never forget. Watching the purple and gold busloads of fans pour in town amazed me. Dedication to our team, knowing the outcome is uncertain, to say the least, is something LSU fans do best.

Our staggering loss against Alabama hurt our souls, but we never let it keep us down. After our weekend of mourning it was time to get back on with life. A win on the road against Arkansas and an absolute shutout against Rice all led us to the last game of the year- Texas A&M.;

Students at home for Thanksgiving, like me, all huddled around our TVs as we watched the 7 overtime game. 72-74. A game we should have won three times over. My heart hurt for all of the football players and fans in College Station that day. Our team deserved every point they got — and the ones they were cheated of. Those who were able to go to the game said they wouldn't change their decision, as this is a new LSU classic game.

Coming to LSU from out of state and being 500 miles from home I was terrified and scared for what was to come. I loved LSU and I loved football so I knew when the season started I'd be okay. Throughout this season I have made so many memories that I will carry for a lifetime. I will tell my children and grandchildren about the stories and adventures LSU football gave me this year. I have made friends that I would not trade for the world, who through thick and thin sat beside me on game day and every other day I needed them.

There isn't a second I would change or do over. I'd do it again and again if I could.

So win or lose on January 1 against UCF, it's still forever LSU.

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To The Coach Who Ruined The Game For Me

We can't blame you completely, but no one has ever stood up to you before.
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I know you never gave it a second thought, the idea that you're the reason I and many others, never went any farther in our athletic careers.

I know you didn’t sincerely care about our mental health, as long as we were physically healthy and our bodies were working enough to play. It’s obvious your calling wasn’t coaching and you weren’t meant to work with young adults, some who look to you as a parent figure or a confidant.

I also know that if we were to express our concerns about the empty feeling we began to feel when we stepped onto the court, you wouldn’t have taken the conversation seriously because it wasn’t your problem.

I know we can't blame you completely, no one has ever stood up to you before. No one said anything when girls would spend their time in the locker room crying because of something that was said or when half the team considered quitting because it was just too much.

We can't get mad at the obvious favoritism because that’s how sports are played.

Politics plays a huge role and if you want playing time, you have to know who to befriend. We CAN get mad at the obvious mistreatment, the empty threats, the verbal abuse, “it's not what you say, its how you say it.”

We can get mad because a sport that we loved so deeply and had such passion for, was taken away from us single-handedly by an adult who does not care. I know a paycheck meant more to you than our wellbeing, and I know in a few years you probably won’t even remember who we are, but we will always remember.

We will remember how excited we used to get on game days and how passionate we were when we played. How we wanted to continue on with our athletic careers to the next level when playing was actually fun. We will also always remember the sly remarks, the obvious dislike from the one person who was supposed to support and encourage us.

We will always remember the day things began to change and our love for the game started to fade.

I hope that one day, for the sake of the young athletes who still have a passion for what they do, you change.

I hope those same athletes walk into practice excited for the day, to get better and improve, instead of walking in with anxiety and worrying about how much trouble they would get into that day. I hope those athletes play their game and don’t hold back when doing it, instead of playing safe, too afraid to get pulled and benched the rest of the season.

I hope they form an incredible bond with you, the kind of bond they tell their future children about, “That’s the coach who made a difference for me when I was growing up, she’s the reason I continued to play.”

I don’t blame you for everything that happened, we all made choices. I just hope that one day, you realize that what you're doing isn’t working. I hope you realize that before any more athletes get to the point of hating the game they once loved.

To the coach that ruined the game for me, I hope you change.

Cover Image Credit: Author's photo

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An Open Letter To The Coach Who Inspired Me Forever

Anyone who's found a love for a sport (or sports) while playing for rec teams, club teams or teams for a local school, can agree.. that somewhere along the way, there was a coach that changed everything.

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When I was five years old, my parents signed me up for my first organized sport. It happened to be the Fall of the year I entered kindergarten and the sport happened to be soccer. Now, at this age calling it, an "organized" sport is quite a reach. We met once a week, put on our colored pennies and ran around in a big field while a volunteer coach really thought they'd have the chance to corral us. That year, I continued through the seasons and got my first glimpse at a number of other sports. Cheering, basketball, and t-ball were all on my to-do list, and soon I was hooked.

Every week I would look forward to games on the weekend and a practice or two along the week. By the third or fourth grade, I believed I had narrowed down the sports I really wanted to play: soccer, basketball, and baseball. I played all of these until the fifth grade when it was first suggested that I switch over to softball.

I absolutely hated the idea of this but, that spring it happened. I was the first one to be "drafted" onto a team, that come to find out, was the team that always finished last. Even knowing this, I continued to play and learn every position and somehow leading my team to its first championship in years.

This.

This was the moment I learned to love the sport I least expected to, and first met the coach who would change my view on the game. Although the story leading up to this point may not have been the same as yours, we all know the moment we realized, this coach was going to change us.

For me, this coach over my middle and high school careers became one of the most important people in my world now revolving around this sport. He fought for my spot on the middle school team when the coach claimed I was "too young" and wanted to give older girls a spot. He pulled me to the varsity lineup as a Freshman and trusted me to catch every-game behind the plate of the senior pitcher who clearly had the speed and talent to pitch collegiately. He continued to mentor me, step by step as my role on the team transitioned from freshman catcher, to second baseman, to senior captain pitcher.

This coach changed everything for me. He taught me respect and accountability and I'd get out what I put into not only the sport, but all my other endeavors. He taught me integrity, and perseverance. But he also taught me how to have fun while I played. How to step onto the field and play my hardest, but know no-matter the score as long as I did my best it was a good game.

I had never known what it was like to have someone other than my parents be so invested in my success before. Of course, they're going to be there for every game, every carpool to practice and every early Sunday morning tournament. But often times, the coach who leaves it all on the field goes unnoticed. The coach who will sit after a game and cry with you after you played your very last game... the coach that truly made you believe in yourself.

So here's to him. Here's to the blood, sweet and tears left behind. Here's to "the good, the bad and the ugly" as he'd say, and learning that any bruise can be fixed by rubbing a little dirt on it. Thank you for your devotion. Thank you for shaping me in to the player I am today, and continuing to do so for others. Thank you for inspiring me everyday to be the best I could be.

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