NEW YORK -- Friday night I stood beside more than 30 Richmond alumni to watch our football team make school history. From 800 miles away, we packed into a pub named The Australian and screamed with the crowds in Chattanooga, Tenn., and every other fan watching around the nation. Although I felt like a teenybopper wearing my Richmond '11 T-shirt, I didn't care because the place was packed and our Spiders rocked the house.
When my friends and I arrived, I noticed a big University of Montana flag in the back of the room and silently hoped those "other" fans wouldn't shove it in my face before the night was over. My fears turned to disbelief and joy as I watched our team make the Grizzlies look more like Smoky the Bear in the middle of a Montana forest fire -- completely helpless. Touchdown after touchdown our Spiders proved they had what it took to be champions, and each time our fans cheered. While surrounded by current students and alumni alike, I felt a strange sensation known as school spirit -- something our school is often criticized for lacking. This is more than a big win; this is the win we have needed for 178 years. Now we can say we're national champions.
Never before this night had I celebrated with people who have a passion for the place I currently call home -- the small liberal arts school that defeated a state university with almost 11,800 undergraduate students. Here in New York, Richmond fans watched coach London on TV get doused in water and then speak during his emotional post-game interview. Together we annoyed everyone and chanted the standard, "Richmond Spiders! (Clap, clap, clap-clap-clap)" over and over. As the credits rolled by, we belted "Jack and Diane" by John Mellencamp and "Oh yeah, life goes on long after the thrill of livin' is gone."
We definitely felt the thrill of livin' while witnessing the victory that is now the highlight of my college career. After the game, everyone said goodbye to new and old friends and began to head home, but I left the overcrowded room knowing that our team had pushed through mountains of work to make it to the championships, and they had the endurance to finish the job. I couldn't be more proud of those guys who are some of the most humble students at our school, but now have proven they are some of the most talented to ever play for our school.
As for the Montana flag in the back of the room, I later heard that the pub is a regular U of M hangout spot, but Friday all the Richmond fans completely overran it. Tucked in the corner of the building, I could barely see the maroon jerseys surrounded by a sea of red, and I watched as the Montana fans slowly trickled out during the third and fourth quarters. I stayed until the very end and finally realized what it means to be Spider born and Spider bred.
Contact staff writer Michael Rogers at email@example.com
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