This post is sponsored by EA Sports NCAA College Football 2011
It's strange. Growing up I never really taligated. I wasn't a huge college football fan when I was little--I just didn't have a team to associate with. Sure we'd go to NFL games and tailgate, but I didn't have that definitively college experience that people have going to their parents' schools and the schools they grew up cheering for.
When I got to Wake it was different; it was like I finally had that bridge, that team, that connection. And although tailgating at Wake wasn't exactly the place to be when I first got to school, by the time I graduated, there were some pretty good traditions.
Read more after the jump and as always, feel free to leave your tailgating stories in the comments.What's a tailgate without food. Now we never really grilled hard the first couple years; it was big bags filled with Bojangles. That was our tradition. Sure it isn't amazing, but we loved it. Wandering from frat keg to frat keg, talking to friends, throwing the football around, just having an afternoon/morning party. But there was something about getting up that morning, throwing on some music, putting the Screamin Demons shirt on and piling 10 people into a car those first years of college that was just...fun.
And as we got older and more sophisticated, that spirit stayed with us. Cornhole got added into the mix, beer pong, flip cup, more football, just anything we could do. And between grills, huge spreads of food cooked by friends' parents and journeying to the ends of the parking lot...well, tailgating just became better; it became more communal; it became a part of the Wake Forest experience. As the team grew, so did we. The lots were fuller, brighter, louder and more exciting.
I still went from place to place to see everyone I knew, but it became more focused; it was really part of the reason that I got closer to friends like WakeJake. And as I got more into writing and covering the team, there was less tailgating and more pre-game media meals, but if I didn't get that hour or more in, it didn't feel the same.
Now that I'm an alumnus, it feels different. It definitely isn't the same as it used to be. But I get that itch--I can't miss games. Even when I was at home finding the game on the ESPN package or going to the bar, those were my new traditions. And I'll carry those, as well as memories of the past, with me into the next stage of my life...that scary real world stuff.