A personal look at a student’s first time at Orange Bowl

What’s the only thing that can get Miami students out of bed before noon on a Saturday? A football game at the Orange Bowl.

Coming from a small high school with no football team, I had no idea what to expect for my first game in Miami. I threw on an orange T-shirt and started out for the Metro Station with my friends. As soon as I stepped outside of Stanford, I realized that this was a much bigger event than I had imagined.

“The whole Orange Bowl experience, there’s nothing like it,” said Alex Lee, a senior.

Everywhere I looked there was orange. Entire bodies were painted and topped off with orange wigs, and the Canes chants were already beginning. I instantly felt the rush of being a part of something huge. This was more than a football game; it was an opportunity for people to come together and share the same passion and pride for their team.

“The way the crowd gets into it, it’s better than any other stadium I’ve been to,” said Sergio Alberti, a senior.

For the first time, it hit me that I was now actually a college student and a member of this vibrant new community. Walking past the upperclassmen apartments, I could see pregame barbeques already going on at 10 a.m. The smell of hot dogs and hamburgers made me a little nauseous that early, but I had to admire the spirit.

The crowded metro ride seemed to take forever, but there was never a dull moment as the fans’ excitement continued to grow. Finally reaching the stop for the Orange Bowl, the entire train cleared out and rushed to catch the next bus to the stadium.

As a freshman not expecting such a long journey and still adjusting to the intense Florida heat, I was starting to get a little weary, but my peers’ never-fading enthusiasm convinced me that it was going to be worthwhile.

About 20 minutes later I had reached my destination. The stadium looked pretty worn in, but it was all part of its charm.

“I kind of like that it’s so disgustingly dirty. It is football. Football’s disgusting. I guess that’s what the Orange Bowl is,” said Andrew Siegel, a junior.

Tailgaters were everywhere, content with their food, drinks and friends, getting pumped before the big game. The band and the cheerleaders were warming up and Sebastian was running around getting the crowd ready to cheer.

The student section was definitely the place to be once the game started. Knowing that everyone around me was a student made me feel free to scream and dance around all I wanted.

When the Canes scored a touchdown, strangers and friends celebrated together. The crowd went wild with every play, good or bad, and even those who never had much of an interest in football found themselves hugging the person next to them over a field goal.

As the game came to a close, I made my way down the ramps and back to the buses, pushing through the loads of cheering, sweaty orange people. I had to smile to myself at the thought of the crazy day I had just lived through and at the thought of taking a nice long shower as soon as I got back to campus.

So it was much more than a simple football game after all. I had felt everything I had hoped to feel. I had completely lost myself in the game and let myself be carried away by the energy in the stands. It will be difficult to match the exhilarating atmosphere of the Orange Bowl and its ability to feel like home on the first visit.

“It’s our home and now we have to go make a new home somewhere else,” said Alaina McCoy, a junior. “It’s not going to be the same.”

Nina Ruggiero may be contacted at n.ruggiero@umiami.edu.