I graduated from USF in August. I proudly gave the school four years of my life and will never forget those years. There is, however, one memory that will always be clearer than the rest.
I hated football. I thought it was barbaric. I did some recreational fencing and thought myself better than something like American football. That was me as a freshman in 2008. The next year, I learned how wrong I was.
Without much of a choice in the matter, a fellow resident of my hall showed me the ropes of football via Madden. Then he took me to a game, sat me down on the seat directly behind the goal, and walked me through the game, traditions and songs. My life changed that day as I watched us take on Charleston Southern. USF changed, too, when Matt Grothe went down with an injury.
My real game was on September 19, 2009. I think its kind of incredible that B.J. Daniels first real game not counting his appearance in 2008 against North Carolina State was mine, too, because I spent the next three years cheering on a team that made me smile and cry and dream and hope. My senior year was painful to see on paper, but I was always proud at the end of every game, because I knew the only deciding factor was possession at the end.
I am currently working on my Master of Arts at the University of Michigan. Im supposed to wear blue and be a feisty little Wolverine I should not be wearing green. But thats how I know that USF will always be a home to me, even when Im 1,100 miles away. I bleed green and gold, I cant help it.
I made the six-hour trip south to Louisville to see my Bulls. I left Ann Arbor the morning of our homecoming game and didnt care. I watched my Bulls come onto the field and stood proud when I was a speck of green in a sea of red. I sang our fight song when we scored. I had my horns up when our players were down. I scared the natives.
And I held my head high as I left the stands, because I was proud of the team I saw that day. A win would have been wonderful, yes, but I had no regrets as I got in my car to drive another six hours back to Michigan. I smiled the whole way and replayed the highlights in my head.
Now, as you all prepare for your own homecoming in Tampa, take the advice of a USF grad: Be proud. Win or lose, those are your players, your team. They do it for you; you should cheer them on. Be proud of our young program and the talent that will be on the field. Be proud to be a Bull.
Reina Saco is a USF alumna.