Students unify over football

Jeff Russ

Abigail Pease, freshman psychology major, watches as her tennis ball knocks the top milk bottle off the stack. The game was a part of the Tailgate Alley activities Saturday afternoon before Kent State’s home opening football game. Elizabeth Myers | Daily

Credit: Ron Soltys


On Saturday, students wore their blue and gold. They were tossing cornhole bags and footballs. A convoy of busses rolled down Summit Street that simply said “Go Flashes.” The air smelled like barbecue and beer. One thing was certain: Football was back at Kent State.

It didn’t return when the Golden Flashes put on their blue uniforms and hit the turf at Dix Stadium. It didn’t return when the band played the alma mater. It didn’t return when the Golden Flashes lost the opening kickoff on an onside kick.

It returned around 11 a.m., when junior Architecture major Wade Kratzer fired up the grill and began the tailgate party across the street from Dix Stadium.

“We were the first ones here today,” he said. “This is a good way to start before the game. This team has a lot of potential and we need to support it, and tailgating is the way.”

Inside and outside the stadium, students found numerous ways to prepare for Saturday’s home opener against Delaware State.

At 1 p.m. in Tailgate Alley right outside Dix Stadium, Kent State’s past, present and future students lined next to giant inflatable balloons for numerous events including cornhole, ladder golf, autograph sessions with basketball players and a mechanical bull.

At a bus stop by the Student Recreation and Wellness Center, football returned around noon for a group of eight freshmen students who had bags of Lays chips and cases of Coke while waiting for the bus.

“We tried to bring any food we could find,” Dave Woods, freshman sports administration major, said. “I woke up at the last minute and got ready to come over.”

This was this group’s first football game as college students.

“I am so excited,” freshman American Sign Language major Kate Waszczak said. “I love football. I love the fall because it’s football season. We have a good team this year, too. It has been a good season except for Kentucky.”

Back at Tailgate Alley, senior English major Dave Sugarman was walking around and watching the band American Steal play to the crowd.

“It is roughly the same as it was last season, the band is different” Sugerman said. “It seems pretty good over here. We got here around one and were tailgating across the street.”

Back across the street, the early morning tailgaters were still grilling, throwing around a football and getting ready for the game.

In their best blue and gold, students filled sections 10 and 11 around 3:30. They waited for the game to start by posing for pictures that may already be a photo album on Facebook.

At 4 p.m., the place exploded when the cheerleaders lead the Golden Flashes onto the field for the game.

The party didn’t stop at kickoff, and the atmosphere inside the stadium was as good as the outside. The students yelled, stomped their feet and beat their thunder sticks every minute of Saturday’s game.

The tailgaters across the street filled the first row as they added a football helmet, Viking helmet and more face paint to their wardrobes.

When Delaware State had the ball, the crowd yelled “defense” and banged white thunder sticks. When Kent State had the ball, the students stomped their feet, and yelled “oooooh” in unison, waiting for the Golden Flashes to get the ball into the endzone.

When quarterback Julian Edelman hit wide receiver Shawn Bayes in the second quarter for the first touchdown of the game, the student section rumbled, the fans were yelling and screaming.

Before Edelman’s incredible touchdown pass in the third quarter, the play of the game may have come from the student section. During the T-Shirt toss, junior Architecture Nick Pickard dove and fell, spilling his beer all over himself, but catching the shirt.

“It was definitely worth it,” he said. “The shirt is much more important than the beer.”

After a long day of cornhole, face painting, eating, drinking and mechanical bull riding; the final zeroes were on the scoreboard of the home opener at Kent State. The party ended in the student section when the fans could proudly say in unison what they had said all day: “We are Kent State.”

Contact sports reporter Jeff Russ at [email protected]