Thursday, January 16, 2014

BYU vs. UVA - Charlottesville, VA

When we first heard that BYU would play the University of Virginia in Charlottesville for their season opener we knew we had to make the trip. A lot of our friends in the city went to BYU and planned on going as well. Thankfully, we were able to make a whole Labor Day weekend of it. We rented a car and made the six hour drive with our good friends, Michael and Kelsey Murdoch, on Friday night after work. I think the biggest highlight of trip was somehow upgrading to a new suburban instead of our original assigned car at the rental shop. Still not sure how we swung that - but we were pumped! Driving a car is such a luxury for us! Scott felt like such a high roller driving that thing all weekend. We played the Knoles Family infamous music game for most of the drive and to my surprise, the Murdochs beat us at our own game. I couldn't believe it. At one point, when we were about two hours away from Charlottesville, and the three of us were sleeping while Scott was making pretty good time at the wheel. Such good time in fact, that we woke up to the sound of police sirens, flashing lights, and Scott muttering, "Guys, I think I'm getting pulled over." If there was any doubt as to what part of the country we were in, it was quickly put to rest by the kind sheriff's deputy who in a thick southern drawl exclaimed, "Sir, 85 miles per hour is considered reckless driving in Virginia." It was not the time to say this but that southern drawl was music to my years. It had been one year since I moved from the Deep South and I was thrilled to experience southern culture once again. Scott took his ticket like a man and we were on the road again making our way to the classy Cavalier Inn near UVA campus for the night. 

The next morning, we walked through the beautiful, bustling campus and spent sometime on the Grounds. We learned that the entire university was Thomas Jefferson's labor of love during the latter part of his life. He wanted to create an "Academical Village" that would combine student living quarters, professors' residences, classrooms, dining and exercise facilities, and open spaces. A brilliant idea in my mind. 

The focal point of his master plan is the Rotunda. This was the heart of Jefferson's community. It was used as library, lecture hall, and venue for social gatherings. Walking through this campus made my American Heritage loving heart sing. I can't even begin to imagine all of the incredible trailblazers that walked through these halls. Including my girl, Katie Couric. I could just see her owning this place. 

In the South, college football is a religion. I quickly learned this in Mississippi when I went to Ole Miss to watch the Rebels take on the LSU Tigers. I had never seen so many people tailgating. I'll never forget it. People had set up camp in the Grove. They had been there hours before the game watching College Gameday on big screen TVs they'd set up on picnic tables under their canopies. I remember people welcoming us to their tents offering us their amazing spreads of southern food. It is such a neat culture. It was here that I learned that BYU fans have had it wrong all along. We need to learn from these tailgating faithfuls! 

Girls were decked out in sundresses and cowboy boots while guys rocked the polo shirts, colored shorts, baseball caps, and croakies. A far cry from the cougars' jean shorts, high socks, and new balance tennis shoes. One of my sweet Southern friends once told me that southern boys don't believe in hair gel. And I don't remember seeing any guy with gelled hair during my time there. Just a bunch of young Justin Bieber hair cuts. 

Anyways, it was no surprise to me when I saw these college coeds ready to party. We learned that some students are even chosen to live in the pavilions there each year. How cool, right?

We wandered through campus and saw a lot of the fraternity and sorority houses on Rugby Road. I'm obsessed with the old brick, white column, and navy shutters look.

We made our way to Scott Stadium and watched the pre-game warm up. We ran into so many fellow East Coast Cougars who had made the trip for the game as well. It was such a blast to quickly catch up with old friends I hadn't seen since we graduated. It's a neat connection to have them scattered across the country but all show up in blue and white to support the cougs. On that note, I've mentioned that Scott bleeds blue, and I, however, am still on the fence when it comes to BYU athletics. Don't get me wrong, I'm forever grateful for my college experience, but patterns have shown the cougs have a way of breaking fans' hearts. Including my husband's. I choose not to be fully invested and have even recommended a few other college teams that he should root for, but he insists on staying loyal, strong, and true. 

After the first quarter, the game got delayed because lightening was supposed to be hitting the area soon. We were pretty confused because the sun was still shining. How quickly I had forgotten about those sudden southern rainstorms. We made the quick decision to leave the stadium entirely and follow students who looked like they knew what they were doing. We asked them where a good place to eat was and they told us we had to go to Mellow Mushroom Pizza on Main Street. We made it there just before it poured. All of our friends got stuck waiting out the storm in other buildings on campus, so we felt grateful we at least got lunch. We brought back some yummy pizza so they could experience it too. 

Sarah Myres, Laura Pulsipher, Kelsey Murdoch, Kelly Michon
Our city girls who made the trip. The guys could not be bothered for a picture. 

Two hours later, the game started back up again. The lightening was gone, but it still rained pretty hard off and on. The cougs gave up a 16-12 lead late in the fourth quarter when Taysom Hill threw an interception and UVA later scored to win 19-16. I feel like I have gotten used to dealing with a sad Scott Maddux after these games. Just another reason to find a better team, babe. One day, you'll see it my way :) Despite the loss, the whole day was such a fun way to kick off the college football season. It just screamed AMERICA to me.

Dear UVA Campus: You are such an academic dream. So charming and colonial. I loved learning more about you. 

 Dear South: It was good to see you again, old friend. There are days in New York City that I long for your slower place and sweet hospitality. You will always have a special place in my heart. 

Dear Cougs: Better luck next time. 

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