Guest Post: A Russian learning about American Football


I just want to take a moment to introduce my friend Vikka. She’s a super wonderful photographer and has commented in the past on how hard it is to write like I do with my blog. Since I know how talented she really is I challenged her to a post of her weekend adventure using her photos to tell the story. And she did an amazing job! Read on below to see how she enjoyed her very first American Football game. Thanks for writing such a great post Vikka, and I hope this is the first of many more great guest posters to come!

An American/German/Russian First Football Adventure

Hello folks! I’m Vikki, a Russian 23-year-old corporate admin asst. and photographer, and I’m super thrilled to be guest posting here today! Mrs. OMA invited me to do a guest post after my long-winded complaint about how I can’t seem to be able to tell a story with words, but instead through photos. I hope you enjoy my trip to Tallahassee!

This past weekend my American boyfriend (N), his (very) German dad (F), American mom (R), and I went to a Seminoles football game down in Tallahassee, Florida. We drove down Friday night after both N and I got off work. The 4.5 hour drive was not that bad, and we arrived at F and R’s house a little bit before midnight. After a very warm welcome by F and R, their three cats, and their Charlie dog, we retired to our bedroom where we found two Seminoles shirts waiting on the bed for us. One for N, and one for me.

The next morning we woke up bright and early and began preparations for tailgating. I began by Showing my ‘Noles support with awesome garnet and gold ribbons, and my new shirt courtesy of R. She was so sweet to make sure we could support the ‘Noles.

Packing up the “official” Seminoles War Wagon, I was bounding with excitement in my seat. This being my first football game, I have never experienced the joys of tailgating until now. And let me tell ya, it’s pretty freaking fun. Arriving at the parking lot, we unpacked our tent and were ready to fry up some burgers and throw back some brewskis.

There’s no better way to start the day than beer, burgers, chips, and great company. A few brewskis later, N and I finally warmed up a bit to the camera and we were able to get a shot of us being a cutesy ‘Noles couple.

Looking back now, I should have expected it, but at the time I was honestly surprised by the sheer amount of Seminoles fans who were tailgating and how many of them had ‘Noles flags, tents, chairs, coozies, and other Seminoles gear set up to show their team spirit. It was a good day to play for the Seminoles, knowing you have at least 30,000 supporters you can count on just down the street, ready to kick booty for you.

After devouring all our food and going through our entire stock of beer, it was time to head over into the stadium to make sure we were there in time for the pre-game events. I was still unsure of what these ‘events’ were, but I was told there would be jets, and that was enough for me. Walking with the crowd, I finally got my first glimpse of the stadium. At first glance, I thought I was looking at dorms or part of the school’s academic buildings, but I was assured that this was in fact the stadium.

As far as stadium sizes go, N told me this one wasn’t even close in size to what some other stadiums were like. I didn’t believe him, as this one was pretty huge to me. We got some drinks, got our seats, and then watched the marching band do their thing. Honestly, I was underwhelmed by the drum section of the band, but putting that aside, they were really good as a whole and did a great job performing.

And then… there were jets.

Two glorious jet fighters roaring by overhead as the national anthem came to an end. This was another learning experience for me. I had no idea that big schools team up with their local air force bases to get jets to fly overhead during the games. This was very new to me, and very exciting. Not every day you get to see a jet fighter, let alone two of them.

Another pretty neat pre-game event that sparked my interest was the tradition of Seminole Chief Osceola riding in on his white stallion, flaming spear in hand. After he did his round on the field, his horse went into a full gallop as he speared the center of the field, cueing fireworks and marking the start of the game. It’s really neat to see that a team named after a group of Native Americans still holds on to that heritage a little bit, and shows support for the ancestry behind the name.

By the end of the ceremonies the entire stadium was full of garnet and gold Seminoles fans, all doing the tomahawk chop in sync. (I was surprised that the tomahawk chop the ‘Noles do is actually quite similar to what fans do at the Braves games in Atlanta.) I had fun doing the little native American chant along with the chop. Again, also very similar, if not the same, to the Braves [Baseball team Atlanta, GA for all you non-baseball team followers].

A little bit into the game we started to notice some pretty cruddy looking clouds coming in. These little cruddy clouds would end up causing game delays due to lightning near the field.

The game was delayed, the radar was on the big screens, and it was not looking good. We decided it was time to leave, since it was the fourth quarter already and we knew who would win anyway… the ‘Noles had been shutting out Wake Forest completely through this point of the game. On the way out of the stadium, I noticed the giant statue of Chief Osceola in all its glory, lit up with his flaming spear of awesome.

On the way back home in the war wagon, I was thinking about how interesting it is that N’s dad, being a native German and living there for almost 30 years, knew so much about football, and had a genuine interest in it. I was always under the impression that Europeans could care less about football, but there was F chattering away about defensive and offensive coordinators, various coaches, and a wide assortment of game plays. This blew my mind. Coming from a European country myself, and knowing others from Russia and Germany, I was always under the impression that they hated football and never wanted anything to do with it. I guess I was wrong… maybe if you live in the States long enough, the entire CULTURE that surrounds football, not just the sport itself, begins to rub off on people. This, to me, was something I never really thought of until now. Even after we had gone home and were watching the last 5 minutes of the game on TV, I was still amazed by F’s knowledge of the game and that he was able to have a very in-depth discussion with N and R about the game and the various strategies, game plays, etc… Now I know where N gets it from.

The rest of the weekend came and went pretty quickly unfortunately. Sunday the rain continued and we spent most of the day inside, watching more football on the TV. (It was at this point when I realized what N meant when he told me the Seminole’s stadium wasn’t that big. We were watching the Falcons at Saints game, and the Saints’ stadium can hold about 100,000 people. Seminoles? 30,000. Yeah…) I was able to get out for a minute between downpours and get a photo of F and R’s cat, Kittles, as he was hunting some poor defenseless creature in the backyard.

Mr. Kittlewiddles. I’ll remember not to call him that in the future. He doesn’t like it, and just gives you the stink eye.

We finally left around 5, and drove down what I think is one of the most beautiful roads ever. They call it call a canopy road down there, for obvious reasons, and they are everywhere in Tallahassee. I would live there just to be able to drive down a road like this every morning on my way to work. During the entire way home the rain never stopped. It’s flat and rainy the whole way. Does a 4.5 (now 6 hour drive thanks to rain) get more miserable than that?

Stinky weather aside, I took great joy in the fact that the local cotton crops were ready for harvesting. For about 200 miles we passed cotton fields, and they all looked like a snowstorm blew through the area. It was quite wonderful. (I especially enjoyed the stray cows that got loose into a field of cotton and were having a field day in there.) Gotta love Georgia.

In the end, N and I were so sad to leave, but we had a great time. I learned a lot about the football culture of America and the south, tailgating, beer drinking, cheering, cats, and just having a good ‘ol time. I can’t wait for my next football game coming up in October in Boone, NC! I wonder how different it will be from this one, if any…

(Phew! That was tiring! Writing takes a lot out of you!)

Thanks for taking the time to read through my lame   (Super, Wonderful, AND GREAT) attempt at blogging, and checking out my photos. Big thanks to Mrs. OMA for lending me her blog space for my entry. Mrs. OMA rocks! J

If you liked my photos, you can see some more of my work at http://vikkishifrin.smugmug.com .

Cheers!

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