Tag Archives: Oregon Ducks

Memoirs of a (sometimes) football fan

25 Sep

I did something the other evening which I hadn’t done in years. In fact, probably not since I’d graduated from high school.

I attended a high school football game. (Go Trojans!)

The last football game I attended in person was at my alma mater, the University of Oregon. (Go Ducks!) I didn’t go to a lot of games over my four years of college but from time to time I wandered across the Willamette River with my friends and we enjoyed rooting for our (then perpetually losing) team.

That was fun enough, but it’s a whole lot more fun to watch them winning these days on television. That way I can stay dry (it rains a lot in Eugene) and I can go to the bathroom without having to stand in line.

Back when I was in high school I didn’t attend too many games, either. I actually have some pretty good reasons for this. For one, I attended three different high schools, due to my father’s job.

I do remember going to one or two football games my 9th grade year at my school on Orcas Island, Washington. Forget about Friday Night Lights, our games were always played on Saturdays because the opposing teams had to take a ferry to get there and that added a huge amount of time to their traveling schedule. (Go Vikings!)

The next year I lived in Bend, Oregon, and there at Mountain View High School I attended just one game. I didn’t know very many people, and going to football games alone is no fun. (Go Cougars!)

Then I moved to West Berlin, Germany, and I was there for my last two years of high school. There, at Berlin American High School, I attended a handful of games (Go Bears!) but my best friend was the school mascot – which meant that she got to run around in a bear suit for the entire game – so I didn’t have her to sit next to and my other friends weren’t really into football so mostly I stayed home on Saturday afternoons. Yes, the games were on Saturdays there, too, also due to travel issues. It was kinda a big deal getting to and from West Berlin.

So all in all, being at any kind of football game was an anomaly for me. I do remember, way back in third grade, briefly considering becoming a football fan simply to improve my math scores. All the boys were really good at their 7 times tables whereas I hated and despised the 7 times tables and I knew that somehow their talent was involved with football scores.

I don’t really understand the sport of football. Ok…I don’t understand it at all other than I know that a First Down is a good thing and that field goals are sometimes worth one point and sometimes worth three, depending on if they’re accompanied by touchdowns or not. And I know that to get a touchdown the guy with the ball has to cross the end line without dropping the ball and somehow Mary, the Mother of Jesus is often involved.

I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I’ve never attended a game here in Worthington prior to this year, but there it is. And the truth is, I enjoyed myself.

Does that mean I’ll be going to a lot more games from here on out?

Let’s not get crazy here. I mean, I enjoy hearing my son play tuba in the pep band, but I can only take so much sitting in the cold cheering for the home team before I zone out and begin wondering why some of the players have long black socks and some of the players don’t and wouldn’t they all be more aesthetically pleasing if they all matched and do they need to hire a fashion consultant to take care of this problem?

Apparently the snappy uniforms of the Oregon Ducks have rubbed off on me.

(Incidentally, I’m a little worried about the Ducks this year, what with losing Marcus Mariota and all. And even I know, deep down, that snappy uniforms or no, it takes more than that to win a football game.)

And to that I say: Happy Homecoming, Worthington!


A Duck Fan Through and Through

13 Jan


The truth is, life is easier when you don’t care about sports.

This deep thought occurred to me Monday night as I finally admitted to myself that three minutes of game play was probably not enough time for the Oregon Ducks to make up their point deficit against Ohio State in the college football national championship game. It was painful to admit. But it was, sadly, true. Ultimately, the game was a loss for my Oregon Ducks.

I never remember a time when I wasn’t an Oregon fan. My mom attended the U of O and ever since I was old enough to think about such things, I decided that I wanted to be a Duck when I grew up. When the time came to apply to colleges I sent my application off from my home in Germany and waited with baited breath to learn my fate. I didn’t apply anywhere else. I guess I was either very confident or very foolish.

When I found out that I was accepted I took it in stride. None of my classmates really knew anything about the U of O – they were mostly going to east coast schools – so I didn’t talk about it much, but I began secretly buying up green and yellow clothes and even a button-down shirt covered in ducks which I found in a German department store.

By the time I got to Eugene I dove into college life like a duck taking to water. Well, ok, I did have a few weeks of homesickness, in which the orange carpet of my dorm room absorbed more than a few tears, but I quickly came to love college and my life as a Duck.

I didn’t attend a whole lot of football games during my four years of school and I only remember going to one basketball game. I did go to a Track and Field invitational where I saw Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Florence Griffith Joyner and Carl Lewis running just a few feet away from me which was easily the most exciting sporting event I’ve ever seen in person.

You see, back then Oregon didn’t win many football games. It was fun to go to a game or two a year, but we went just to support our team, not to see a fantastic football game. It wasn’t until several years later, after I moved to Minnesota, that Oregon began to win consistently. Somewhere in there I married a U of Minnesota alum and we moved to Worthington and, much to my amazement, found out one year that Oregon and Minnesota were set to play each other in the Fiesta Bowl. That was a lot of fun in our household. (Oregon won, by the way. But the same match up happened a year or two later in which Minnesota won, so we’re even.)

And then, suddenly, Oregon seemed to blossom as a team. We were winning! We were on TV! It was exciting to be a Duck! Our perpetual underdog feeling was beginning to dissipate!

And then along came this year. It’s been amazing. We were winning (except for that Arizona game but we made up for that in the Rose Bowl) and we even had the first-ever Duck Heisman Trophy winner! Whoo hoo! We were even favored in the championship game!

But it was not to be.

Oregon has never won a national championship. Ohio, on the other hand, now has yet another trophy to add to their case. Yes, I’m bummed about that. “Number Two” doesn’t have the nice ring to it that “Number One” does.

But that’s life as a sports fan I guess.

Like I said, life is easier when you don’t care about sports.

And to that I say, Go Ducks!

There’s Nothing Like a Reunion

31 May

The University of Oregon is the only university whose mascot is a Disney character. Legend has it that a couple decades ago Disney got cross about it and said that the U of O couldn’t keep using the duck. They went to the archives and found a snapshot of the then president of the university shaking hands with Walt Disney himself – and that was the proof that he had agreed to the mascot’s use. I must say, I prefer the U of O duck over any other Disney character! GO DUCKS!

I am in SLC, fresh from EUG, heading to MSP and ultimately FSD.

Yes, I’m traveling. Alone, this time. No kids to keep an eye on, no dollies in tow, no Dora-the-Explorer suitcase trundling along behind my curly-headed child, stuffed with drawing paper and pencils and toys and snacks and used Kleenex.

It’s quite nice to be alone.

It’s also a little bit lonely.

The U of O campus.

I’ve been in Eugene, Oregon for a friend’s wedding. The wedding was lovely – outdoors, not too big, not too long, delicious cake. My friend and her smiling husband drove away in a 1947 (or was it ’48?!) fire engine and it was cute, quaint, and perfect.

The happy couple.

But Eugene held more than my dear friend’s wedding – it held family, friends, and innumerable memories.

It was 20 years ago exactly that I graduated from the University of Oregon. I’d been back to Eugene once, five years ago, but that was just for 36 hours and I was too distracted to spend much time on campus. This time I was able to walk around leisurely, gaze at the new buildings and old, and enjoy the atmosphere. I didn’t feel 18 again – no, the gray in my hair doesn’t allow for that fantasy – but I enjoyed myself immensely…perhaps BECAUSE I didn’t have to rush back to my dorm room and cram for a final exam.

My old dorm!

There’s nothing like a reunion – with old places or old friends or family. I was able to see many family members who graciously drove down from Washington to see me, and I met my new great-niece. She is, of course, adorable. I also saw my Eugene relatives and I had the privilege of staying with my aunt, which felt like coming home as I spent a lot of time with them over my college years. I think that I spent every single weekend at her house for at least the first 6 weeks of my freshman year. Mom and Dad were still in Germany, so my aunt’s home was a gift for a homesick kid.

I LOVE the rhododendrons and azaleas that abound in Eugene. I tried to grow one here in MN…it failed.

I also saw many college friends – some of whom I hadn’t seen in two decades – and was reminded of their quirks, their ways of speaking, their wonderful laughs. We sat outside at a restaurant along the Willamette River watching ospreys, river rafters and each other. I am so glad to know these people.

The Willamette River in Eugene, OR

Now I have to return to reality. To dirty clothes and dirty dishes. To unread piles of mail and a garden that has yet to be planted. To irritable kids and sticky kisses.

I’m ready to be back. Bring it on.

If you ever watched the movie Animal House…this is where it was filmed, at the University of Oregon. (Not that I’d necessarily recommend it as a movie!) Food fight, anyone?

The Matthew Knight Arena – just built within the last couple years. Phil Knight – a U of O grad and of Nike fame – gave the money for the arena in memory of his son who passed away.

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