Caitlin "Cait" Shields '11 September 12, 2018 11:09 AM updated: September 12, 2018 11:58 AM
Clemson fan Chip Rouse posted on TigerNet.com, a Clemson-focused online forum, about his Game Day experience in Aggieland, noting how "respectful" and "classy" the Aggies he met were.
Read about his experience in his own words, included here with his permission:
My A&M experience
Lots and lots of takes on the game, "the fumble call", QB rotation, etc. Thought some might find my first experience in Aggie-land interesting.
I am a Widower as my wife of 20 years passed away a few years back at 44 years of age from Lung Cancer having never smoked a day in her life. That experience and raising my two kids solo these last few years, has really given me some perspective on what is important and not so important at least as far as my life is concerned. It also makes the concept of building memories very valuable to me, so when my 18 year old son approached me last week and suggested a memorable trip for his Senior Year in High School would be an A&M trip, I was all about it. We quickly convinced a Clemson classmate to join us and made plans for a long weekend road trip. We left Friday around noon and made it to Shreveport around 2:00AM Saturday morning. We got a decent sleep and headed to College Station the next morning arriving around 1:00. We parked on the outskirts of campus by the polo fields and headed down to the Dixie Chicken and then over towards the stadium for the afternoon before the game started. Several things were noteworthy.
1) There is a room I believe was called the "Flag Room". It was in the student center and had 4 or 5 large TVs and lots of sofas/chairs/floor space and there must have been 100-200 folks in Orange and Maroon watching the USC-UGA game and avoiding the mid-day heat outside. It was a great setup and the perfect way for us to watch the "other" important game that day. Lots of nice folks in there - even one gentleman and his wife who offered us their seats. We declined, but the sentiment was indicative of the treatment we would get the rest of the day. These folks are serious about being respectful and classy.
2) The parade before the game. Right before game time, we lined the streets around the stadium to watch the parade of the cadets make their way to Kyle Field. It was astounding how many there were! After the band marched through to lead the processional, the waves of cadets kept coming and coming and coming! It finally ended when the mounted cadets on their horses and the Howitzer for the game pulled by a mule team made their way down the street on the way to the stadium.
3) The stadium was very impressive! We were in the upper deck of the End Zone where Tee scored his touchdown across from where our band was located. If I did not know the capacity, I would have guessed it was even larger than 105,000. I guess it was the way it completely surrounded the field that made it look so much larger than I envisioned beforehand. With all of the stadium lights flashing, energized fans, the towels waving frantically, and no place for the noise to escape, it is easy to see how the players could get easily get distracted and intimidated. No doubt about it - it was rocking Saturday night! Even up by 15 points a couple of times, you could feel the crowds energy and knew the game wasn't out of reach. That thought obviously turned out to be prophetic.
4) Band - I'm not much of a band guy, but the size and precision of the band was something to see. From the upper deck where you could see the formations unfolding as the members marched in all sorts of directions, I thought for certain there would be collisions or errors in all of the coordinated movements. It was flawless with straight lines and changing shapes that must take incredible effort to organize and pull off. It was a great show and worth staying in my seat at halftime to witness it.
5) The Aggie War Hymn - I think that is what it was called at the start of the 4th quarter had the whole stadium energized and engaged. If you are an A&M person, I could see how that would put a lump in your throat each time that song was played. Even as a visitor it was easy to get into it.
6 - The Smoke ring from the Howitzer - Someone posted a picture of that earlier today. After one of the scores and firing the round, that smoke ring floating across the field was pretty cool.
7 Finally and most important the Aggie People.... There was an announcement before the game reminding the A&M fans about class and respect for your opponent. I was blown away at how universal this sentiment was taken to heart by everyone we encountered all day - I mean EVERYONE. We sat in the middle of an Aggie section. We had been elbow to elbow with folks decked out in Maroon all day. Even making our way down the crowded walkways from the upper deck after a tightly contested game with controversial calls that frustrated the home team, I did not hear a single derogatory word. Not one - literally all day. Closest we even came was a car that drove by us walking to the stadium and the students yelled something like "Gig-em Aggies" or something like that. I was stunned to be honest. Much more often we heard "Welcome to Aggie-land" or "Hope you have a safe drive home" and never a murmur of anything condescending or hostile. We all love college football and want our team to win. We all get fired up and heated up when things don't go our way. These folks get it though. Maybe it is just my personal history with tragedy these last few years, but these Aggie folks see things the right way with the right perspective. They fought hard and that stadium was as raucous as you can imagine, but when the game was over we had nothing but pats on the backs, handshakes and well wishes. I just had to write this post to tip my cap Aggie fans, students and Alumni. You may have come up a few points short on the scoreboard Saturday night, but you sure won me over. What a classy, classy bunch that I have nothing but respect and admiration for based on the experience we had last Saturday. I hope it won't be my last trip to A&M, and for those of you that make the trip over next year, I hope you experience the same level of Southern hospitality, respect and sportsmanship we received in spades Saturday evening. My son, my buddy and I had an absolute ball!
Best of luck the rest of the way Aggie friends. This is one guy from South Carolina who will be rooting for you along the way.
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