Saturday’s at Sanford Stadium

Published 9:42 am Wednesday, September 14, 2022

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When you think of college football, what comes to mind? Is it the pageantry of traditions, fight songs and chants? Is it the atmosphere of 100,000 people coming together as a family to support one common goal? Or maybe it’s the anticipation of a new team that could bring a championship or the next generation of NFL superstars. Regardless of what comes to mind, Sanford Stadium in Athens brings college football fans a once in a lifetime experience.

As a sports reporter with lofty goals for the future, the opportunity to cover the first University of Georgia football game of the 2022 season was something I have not only dreamed of, but worked hard for.

Growing up my parents would take me to Philadelphia Eagles games, Texas A&M games and everything in between and it not only developed a passion for sports within me but it also gave me a desire to bring that experience to as many people as I can, which is why I decided to pursue a career in sports journalism.  

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As I pulled up to Sanford Stadium hours before kickoff on Saturday morning, the parties outside of the stadium were already alive and well. From the alumni tailgates to fraternity row leading up to the stadium, the streets were flooded with red and black as fans were ecstatic to welcome home the 2021 National Champions.

After getting into the stadium, the first thing I did was head to the field. As I made it down to the field I secured my spot in the northeast tunnel to witness my first “dog walk” as the 2022 Bulldogs walked into the stadium dressed in their finest suits, accompanied by the school band and cheerleaders.  

Shortly after, players headed to the field and began their warm up routines and had the opportunity to greet their family and friends at the hedges before the game day madness hit. Having conversations with wide receiver AD Mitchell and tight end Darnell Washington not only gave me insight into how detailed gameday is, but how calm and focused they are able to remain.

“Playing at home is definitely an advantage because we’re able to sleep in our own beds and be in our own comfortable environment,” said Washington. “Gameday’s are long but they’re also the culmination of our hard work. We just get to go out and have fun.”

As kickoff crept up closer and closer, the fans began to fill the stadium with red and black and you could feel the electricity. With thousands of students who always bring the energy along with “Mo Bamba” echoing over the PA system, I started to have thoughts of applying to UGA for a masters degree just to experience football games as a student again.

However, having the ability to go on the field, work in the press box and experience the game as a media member was something that I have always dreamed of and will never take for granted. As I was escorted to my spot in the press box and got all of my equipment set up, I took a moment to look around and take a deep breath and absorb the moment.

Seeing all the traditions from the band, to the team entrance and everything leading up to kickoff not only showed me the passion that the fans have, but how college football is truly more than a game to millions of people.

Although the Bulldogs easily walked away with a 33-0 shutout win, the fans were in it to the very end. Every third down, every scoring play and anything in between, the fans were on their feet, shaking Sanford Stadium to the core.

Being able to have the opportunity to have experiences like Saturday is something that I will never take for granted and also gives me all the more reason to work hard to bring fans with me in that experience. I am excited to spend more Saturday’s between the hedges.