Welcome to the refreshed On The Banks! To celebrate the new look and feel of our sports communities, we’re sharing stories of how and why we became fans of our favorite teams. If you’d like to share your story, head over to the FanPosts [link here] to write your own post. Each FanPost will be entered into a drawing to win a $500 Fanatics gift card [contest rules]. We’re collecting all of the stories here [https://www.sbnation.com/why-we-are-fans] and featuring the best ones across our network as well. Come Fan With Us!
Change can be hard with anything in life, but I hope that all of you like the refreshed look of the site. I think it’s a bit crisper and allows us to layout the front page in some different ways. In terms of content, our site will continue to cover as much as we can about anything and everything Rutgers sports related. At times, more than just sports too. We want this site to be a community that all supporters can come to and debate, discuss, celebrate and mourn all the highs and the lows of Rutgers athletics. I’m always open to feedback on how to make this site even better, so if you have suggestions, email me at email@example.com
As to how I became a fan of Rutgers, my family moved to New Jersey when I was 4 years old because my father got a job at the university. My father took me to many games and very soon my first love in life was Rutgers. I went to countless football, men’s basketball and men’s soccer contests in the 1980’s during my early childhood, through the 90’s as I grew up, and throughout my college career as a student at Rutgers from 1996 to 2000, when I graduated. Going to games nowadays on campus makes the place truly feel like my home away from home and where time stops.
The first team I remember following day in, day out and having clear memories of, including any pro sports I'm a fan of, was the 1984 Rutgers football team. It was the first season that Dick Anderson was head coach, who came to Rutgers after being a longtime assistant at Penn State under Joe Paterno. It was a true changing of the guard for the program, as longtime head coach Frank Burns had an extremely successful run in the previous decade. Anderson’s debut came against Paterno and Penn State, with Rutgers losing by a field goal in Happy Valley. It was a tough defeat, but I was hooked. Rutgers ended up finishing the season with a 7-3 record, including a late season upset of #19 ranked West Virginia at Giants Stadium. Little did I know that witnessing that win would be extremely rare, as Rutgers only beat them twice more in the 27 years that followed with the schools playing each other annually. There was real hope back then that Anderson would build Rutgers into an east coast power, but as you know, it never happened.
My favorite sport has always been basketball though and I had little to cheer about in the mid-eighties during the Craig Littlepage era. However, I loved the RAC immediately and it has always felt like home to me ever since. I feel lucky to have so many memories in that building growing up and I still get that same feeling when I am there now as a grown man. The ultimate RAC experience for me was the 1989 Atlantic 10 Tournament Championship game versus Penn State. Rutgers had upset Temple in the Palestra a few days before in the Semifinals on the same day Penn State upset the top seed, West Virginia. Although Rutgers split their two regular season meetings with Penn State, they had lost by 28 points on the road to them just three weeks prior. Some say it was the loudest it has ever been at the RAC, as Rutgers won 70-66 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. I sat under the basket next to the Rutgers bench and can remember how much the bleachers shook that night. One of my first posts on this site was my list of my top memories, good and bad, at the RAC through the years. Click here for more.
I also have great memories attending men’s soccer games growing up and feel lucky to have seen some of those teams. From 1987-1991, Rutgers was a powerhouse team and made the College Cup, soccer’s Final Four, both in 1989 & 1990. They had All-Americans Peter Vermes and Steve Rammel during that era, but the player I remember the most was Alexi Lalas, who always made time to high five kids like me and sign autographs. He had the presence of a rock star and went on to become the face of the US National team for the 1994 World Cup. I sat in old Rutgers stadium in freezing conditions when Lalas and Rutgers fell to his future national team teammate, Tony Meola and Virginia, who were top team in the land, in the National Semifinals. History was made in the Championship game between UVA and Santa Clara, as the game was called and both teams declared co-national champions after four overtimes due to sub-zero conditions. It actually led to the NCAA making a rule change of implementing a shootout the following season.
So that’s my origin story of becoming a Rutgers fan. Many of our readers have bled Scarlet long before I did. And many joined in after. The thing that brings us all together is our mutual love of Rutgers, either as alums or fans. It’s part of what defines us. We are a proud people and I feel honored to have this forum at On The Banks to interact and communicate with so many loyal sons and daughters of Rutgers. I know all of our contributors on this site do as well. I encourage anyone to write a fanpost about how you became a fan of Rutgers. We are all on a journey together and share a mutual hope that a brighter future is ahead for Rutgers athletics. RU rah rah!
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