Parents are still biggest support

Joe Harrington

Walking through the parking lots outside Jack Trice Stadium, it was noticeable that there were very few Kent State faithfuls that made the 11-hour trip from Kent to Ames, Iowa. Most of the fans who did make it were parents of the Kent State football team.

Francis and Melanie Edelman flew to the game from California, as they do every week to see their son, starting quarterback Julian, a junior. The plane tickets may have cost them about $600, but the only hitch that slowed them on their way to the game was a two-hour lightning delay in Dallas.

They were tailgating with Tom and Sue Sitko, who drove from Kent to see their son, starting tight end Tom, begin his senior year. Sandwiched between two cars draped in Iowa State colors and stuck in the most raucous party lot, the two families drank beers, grilled sausages, cooked Iowa grown corn and showed off their Kent State spirit.

“We got our Kent (State) shirt and flag …” Francis said. “We look pretty good out here for being outnumbered,” Melanie said, finishing his thought.

The Edelmans and Sitkos weren’t the only families that came to the game three states away. Jack Williams’ family came from Virginia and St. Louis. The Lainharts flew from Cincinnati to watch Brian, a freshman safety. As expensive as the trip was for some, one family didn’t have that problem.

“We spent about $40 (driving to the game). We have a diesel,” said Greg and Linda Donaldson, whose son Shawn plays left guard. “We got 38.9 miles a gallon coming out here,” Linda said.

The Donaldsons sat in the southwest corner of the stadium with most of the other Kent State fans, such as Jon Drager’s parents.

John and Melanie Drager have a long weekend ahead. After watching their older son play, the Dragers will hop into their 9-year-old Navigator and drive to Blacksburg, Va., where their younger son, Chris, is a freshman tight end for Virginia Tech.

The Dragers, from Pittsburgh, will have driven 33 hours and 2,106 miles by the end of the weekend.

Asked about the cost, John said, “I was afraid to try to figure it out. I didn’t even want to do the math. I was afraid I’d just.” He stopped and just shook his head.

Despite a lack of Kent State students, the parents hadn’t lost any confidence about their sons’ team.

“Winning by 14, at least,” Francis Edelman predicted, which was a pretty popular pick in four rows of the southwest corner of the stadium.

Contact football reporter Joe Harrington at [email protected].