My first time in the ’Shoe came during my freshman year. My friends and I got tickets together in Block O at the north end of the stadium. We would wake up Saturday mornings and go straight to the games, which often were at noon, and just have a great time. I fell in love with the energy, the excitement. You get chills when the band starts playing and the team runs in. It’s the best feeling ever.
I’m the oldest of three, and every year I would hustle to get tickets so my family could come in from Chicago for a game. I would figure out who was going home for the weekend so I could buy their ticket. My family was in the stands when I was on homecoming court my senior year. There’s nothing like walking onto the field during halftime and hearing them announce your name and hometown. Afterward, you’re walking around in your little sash — it was amazing, amazing, amazing.
My senior year, I co-chaired Welcome Week 2002 while working for Student Activities. We organized a whole week of events for first-year, transfer and returning students. For the Scarlet Fever pep rally, we ended up at Ohio Stadium. All the students got to be on the field and take pictures. We had cheerleaders and band members out there. It was a lot of fun.
As a student, my last time in the ’Shoe for a game was when we clinched the Big Ten title playing Michigan in 2002. We’re all there in our seats, and once we knew we were going to win, we looked at each other, like, “What’s the plan? What are we going to do? Rush the field?” I noticed all the security lined up. I’m a rule follower, so I didn’t really want to rush the field. Then, all of a sudden one kid was like, “Let’s go!” And it turned out to be fine. It seemed like everyone was on the field! It was utter chaos and fun and joy. We were undefeated that year and went on to win the national championship.
And then, of course, my commencement was in the ’Shoe. It was awesome. I love that Ohio State makes sure everyone actually gets their diplomas. Christopher Reeve, the actor who played Superman, was our speaker. Funny story is, this was spring of 2003, when cell service was very unreliable. So I couldn’t tell my parents exactly when I was entering. They were taking video, which shows them cheering every time anyone who sort of looked like me walked into the stadium!
Before the pandemic, I would make it to a game at least every other year. I cannot wait to take my son, who is 4 now. He already knows his OH-IO. (He probably knew that before the alphabet!) He is prepped and ready.
When you’re a student, you’re living the best years of your life and you don’t even know it. I can always go back and look at the 50-yard line and remember, that’s where I stood at homecoming. I can think, there is the place we rushed onto the field. And that’s where I sat in Block O. I can look around the stadium and feel connected to almost every part of it. The memories bring me home to Ohio State.