Friday, September 2, 2011

Thursday Night Lights!

And she's back in the game!  Funny story, it turns out that you have to actually be in Worcester to blog about Worcester.  Strange, huh?  I've bounced back and forth from Boston, to Newport, to DC, to San Francisco, to Plymouth, and Cape Cod this summer - oh wedding season.  But, with the start of the school year things seem to be calming down a bit and my blog should be picking back up!  I've got some big plans for my September posts...

Last night, I was part of history, or so I was told quite frequently by the Holy Cross community.  I attended the first ever night game, under the lights, at Fitton Field.  The Holy Cross Crusaders took on the UMass Minutemen in their season opening home game.  And in all honestly, this was my first ever college football game.

I love football, but unfortunately, when I was applying for college, I didn't consider that it might be cool (let's be honest, it would have been pretty damn sweet) to go to a Division 1 school.  I was worried about academic programs, scholarships, etc, and that landed me at Salve, studying preservation, living in a mansion by the sea, so I really can't complain.  However, what I didn't realize is that our football team, the mighty Seahawks, played on a Newport high school field.  Yeah, we were that good.  The few games I went to were sad to watch.  The poor Seahawks.  It's really too depressing to recap.

My husband, who I was dating at the time, went to UMass - Go Minutemen! - and we went to one football game while I visited.  However, we missed the beginning of the game, showed up for halftime, along with most of the crowd, because we were actually there for the awarding winning marching band.  Oh the irony... the crowd skipping the game and coming to watch the band... teen drama screenwriters everywhere are convulsing at the thought.  Needless to say, I'm not counting that as true college football either.

I went to GWU for grad school, thinking to myself, "Hey! This is a pretty large school, with an athletics budget that rivals Salve's endowment, there must be a great football team."  Well, I was horribly mistaken.  The Colonials don't have a football team.  There really isn't much space for a football stadium in Foggy Bottom, but it's the principle of the thing.  Alas, four more years of higher ed -Jackson took his time finishing his masters (teasing... he worked full time)- and no college football to speak of.

At that point, I wasn't too upset about my lack of a college football experience, until I met someone who went to a SEC school and told me about their game day traditions. I heard tales of tailgating, epic post-game parties, and even dress codes that put gals in dresses and guys in shirt and tie.  How cool is that?! Sunday best for Saturday football... be still my heart!  Admittedly, this inspired some buyer's remorse when it came to my educational choices, but as with all things, I moved on.

Now I find myself back in Worcester and the buzz this week had been the Holy Cross vs. UMass game.  I decided I'd see what a well-funded football program looked like.  I gathered Jackson and his fellow UMass classmate, Chris and a colleague of mine and we made our way to Fitton Field.  (Historical note:  Fitton Field is named for Father Fitton, the Catholic priest who, in the early 1800s, was responsible for pastoring the entire northeast -well from Maine to Rhode Island.- and converting large settlements to Catholicism.  He also purchased the land that Holy Cross sits on, hence the namesake...I know this because a costumed interpreter at Old Sturbridge Village told me so.)

I'm not sure how many of you know this, but like the great city of Rome, Worcester, MA also has 7 hills. I'm not quite sure I can name them all, and depending on where you grew up, they often go by different names, but Fitton Field sits at the base of College Hill, which is also called Pakachoag Hill or Mount Saint James.  Anyway, College Hill was PACKED last night.  There were about 16,000 people, which for a small school like Holy Cross, is quite a turn out. Parking was kind of a nightmare and I would bet that half of Worcester's police force was directing traffic.  The stadium was swimming with Holy Cross's purple, with a trim of UMass maroon. It was all very exciting! I had previously decided to root for the offense.  I have loyalties to both teams, so cheering for good plays made by the offense seemed fair.  Besides, in football, I don't like to root against anyone - I'm a fan of close games and ties.  Unless we are talking about the Manning brothers.  I pray for their failure.  Peyton Manning makes me seethe with anger and I used to be a fan of Eli - I tried to inspire sibling rivalry to throw Peyton off his game - but then the 2008 Super Bowl happened and Eli joined my list. So, yeah... like I was saying, I was getting into that college game day spirit, and then the game started...

Despite what Gordie Lockbaum (a HC football great) announced over the local radio station, this was not a well-played game of two athletically strong teams.  It was kind of boring as football goes.  There were rookie mistakes that most high school football teams can avoid and both teams had a lot of trouble moving the ball.  UMass dominated for the majority of the game, which appeased my husband and Chris, but even they were disappointed with the overall caliber of event.

I do have to give credit to the prep work done by the HC and Worcester community. The field looked great, the tailgating layout seemed well designed, the concession stands were well stocked and the line kept moving, the energy was high.  Despite the larger crowd and the overwhelming parking situation, traffic flowed fairly smoothly. On the flip side, I think Holy Cross is breaking some ADA laws with their handicap accessibility and seating, just saying. Oh and a special shout out to the highly intoxicated woman sitting on the visitor's side, who cussed out my husband for standing in the handicapped area to keep his friend company (he was standing because there were no companion chairs provided), I hope for your sake there is no such thing as karma. 

Overall, I had a good time.  I think I'll try to catch another game this season and see if the team improves over the course of the semester.  I really do enjoy football, so it's hard to truly disappoint me.

I can't enthusiastically recommend the game or say it tips the scales in Worcester's favor, but I it wasn't a wasted evening.

Until next week!


  1. did you mean 15,000 instead of 1600?

  2. Whoops! 1,600 was a typo. I thought I heard the announcer say attendance was around 15,900, but I could be wrong. Thanks for pointing that out!