The fall is upon us again. The season of cooler weather, fresh apples, brightly colored chrysanthemums and football.
I’m a lady that loves football season. I’m not a cheerleader, a daughter of a coach, a wife of a football fan or the mother of a son who plays. I didn’t follow any of the normal paths that would lead a girl to have an affinity for football. My love of and excitement for football season comes from something much simpler.
I knew nothing about football until my sophomore year at Stratford High School, which was also the year that Stratford opened. Stratford didn’t have its own football stadium back then but shared a field with Goose Creek High.
My dad and I went to every Stratford football game, home and away, rain or shine, no matter the win-loss record, for the three years I attended Stratford.
We would sit together during the first half of the game.
He would explain the different football positions, plays, and penalties while we ate the wonderful Southern delicacy, boiled peanuts, that my mom had made for us. During the third quarter, I would walk around and visit with friends, and then come back and sit with him during the final quarter to watch the end of the game.
At first, there were only a handful of fans at the Stratford games and the win-loss record wasn’t great. Thousands of fans watched the undefeated Stratford Knights beat the mighty Summerville Greenwave in last game of the regular season of my senior year. What a way to end high school.
After high school, football remained a big part of my life at Clemson. Football weekends were fun. There is nothing quite like a Clemson/Carolina weekend tailgate. It seemed like the entire state of South Carolina had come to Clemson for a huge, Southern barbecue picnic that covered the entire campus.
My dad didn’t attend a single Clemson game while I was a student at Clemson. Money was tight with my siblings headed to college in the years right behind me. I was given tickets to a Clemson game the year after I graduated and took my dad with me.
It happened to be homecoming weekend, and it was a wonderful experience to share his first live college football game with him. This time, we bought the boiled peanuts, but they weren’t quite as good as Mom’s.
Some years later, a group of friends introduced me to fantasy football. Every week, my dad and I would discuss players, points and who would be the best starter for the week. After all, he was the one who taught me the difference between a QB, an RB, a WR, and a TE way back when I was 14.
It was fun to have him cheering for my team, even if it was a fantasy team.
Dad passed away in 2007 not long after my first season of fantasy football. There isn’t a Friday night, Saturday or Sunday afternoon, or Monday night in the fall that I don’t think of him and wish he was around to share football season and boiled peanuts with again.
My dad never played football and I find myself wondering why he loved it so much. It’s too late to ask him now, but I like to think it was the same reason I do.
It was a special time that a dad and his daughter shared together.
Angie Ringley is an assistant head of school and the head of middle school at Pinewood Preparatory School in Summerville. She lives in Summerville with her husband, Mike, and daughter Heather.