I am a huge fan of sports. College football and basketball are my loves.
Every year, my extended family reunions are based around our football bowl games picks. The winner even receives a silver trophy.
I spent my childhood going to University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football games. Yet it wasn't until one spring late in high school that I understood what it means to be a passionate fan.
That year, a few friends and I got caught up in the drama that leads to the Final Four basketball tournament. The University of North Carolina had won the national championship the year before, and many of my friends had ties with the university and its intense rivalry with Duke. We wanted more than anything for UNC to win.
We knew where players came from, their stats, their playing styles. I remember reading Sports Illustrated, searching for even more information.
This fall, my focus shifted to football when I got the opportunity to go to a large NCAA Division 1 game. I am proud to say, despite their latest loss, it was definitely the season to see University of Tennessee football live. I attended three games, and few things compare to the roar of 100,000 people when the Vols blocked Georgia's punt, or the intensity before a big play or the team's fabulous win over South Carolina.
I also experienced tailgating. My college, University of the South, is in a secluded area, and I always loved how the student body (of a little more than 1,000) would come together for football games. But tailgating in Knoxville is like nothing else. The entire town stops to celebrate. It is the greatest feeling of unity and family I have ever felt.
It's been a memorable football season of upsets, emotions and amazing plays that kept many of us up late watching SportsCenter, then tuning into game replays the next day.
I don't think I will ever forget the catch that helped Auburn beat Georgia in the final seconds. I got to see UTC beat Wofford and watched as the enthusiasm for UTC football developed to an extent I've never seen. Tailgating for UTC is something I hope to make a tradition.
This season has also made me realize why I care so much about sports. It is not just the entertainment of it all. Sports demonstrates the importance of developing skills and motivation. It's about coping with loss, cheering at the top of my lungs even when the odds are not in my favor and celebrating success.
Along with the enjoyment of new experiences, I will keep these lessons in mind as I move on to basketball season.
Contact Corin Harpe at firstname.lastname@example.org.