When one of the biggest sporting events on the planet comes to your backyard, so do some of the most loyal, devoted, and lunatic fringe fans. And I use the word “lunatic” in the most loving way.
About four hours before tipoff on a gray Saturday, there were Badgers in bright red, Gators in orange and blue, and Wildcats and Huskies in shades of blues strolling along Collins Avenue in Arlington. They were revved up and ready to makes some memories.
Badgers in bib overalls
When the University of Wisconsin made the Final Four, Kelly Wenman and her four pals decided to pack their red-and-white overalls and hit the road for DFW. Twelve and half hours after leaving Madison (with some bat-out-of-hell driving), they arrived in Colleyville, where Kelly’s aunt lives, ready to root on their favorite team.
When I asked them to help me (and our readers) get beyond the shorthand about Wisconsin — certainly the place has more going for it than beer, brats and cheese, right? — they cited stories about the Wisconsin players studying for exams while on the road as an example of the state’s work ethic, and no-nonsense approach to life.
“We work, and we play hard,” said Kelly, her friends nodding in agreement. “But the cheese is amazing.”
And so is the price they paid for tickets: $40 for all three games.
That was the student price from the university, they said, and because they are staying with Kelly’s aunt, it essentially cost them 40 bucks each, plus gas money to go to the Final Four. I’d say they were winners already.
Morgan Ecklin proudly wore a Gator on her head as she shopped for souvenirs. Her sister, Caroline, was decked out in Wildcat blue.
They decided to meet up in Arlington for the Final Four, in hopes their teams will make Monday night’s championship game an all-SEC affair. Morgan is a freshman, Caroline a senior — but they’re sisters first. No matter who wins Monday, they’ll be happy.
Unless of course it’s UConn.
If your team goes to the Final Four, you owe it to them and yourself to dress for the occasion.
Which is exactly what George and Holly Sides did. The Jacksonville couple came to Arlington decked out in orange and blue argyle.
George was definitely in the running for sharpest-dressed Gator, with his matching argyle jacket and shorts he bought from Loudmouth Golf, the company owned and made famous by golfer John Daly. Anyone who has been to Colonial in the last few years will recognize the blaringly loud colors and patterns.
This kind of high fashion doesn’t come cheap, though. Sides said the jacket cost $350, because it was custom made, and the shorts were $95. Sides also nicely accessorized his outfit with gator skin shoes, and Mardi Gras beads with gators on them.
Holly wore a matching argyle skirt, orange-and-blue beads and a big smile, because everyone who spotted the couple wanted to snap a photo with them. Me, too.
I approached the four burly UConn Huskies at my own peril, wanting to snap a photo, but feeling compelled to confess that I was the enemy — a Gator fan.
But these Huskies were hungry, and thirsty, so after I directed them to Boomer Jack’s for some pregame shots, they were more than happy to pose for a quick pic.
As they headed North on Collins toward the sports bar, I wished them well and told them I hoped my team wiped the floor with theirs.