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!
For as long as I can remember, Rutgers was the school to go to. Both of my parents are Rutgers grads, back when it was still Rutgers College. Mom graduated in ‘91, Dad in ‘93. My dad played tennis for the Scarlet Knights. They both still follow Rutgers Athletics, especially the football and men’s basketball teams. I remember my first Stuff Yer Face experience with them. I still have old, bright red Rutgers sweatshirts. Our cars all have red “R” magnets on the back. I knew the campus inside and out before I was old enough to even begin thinking about where I wanted to go to college.
Most of the people I know went to and graduated from Rutgers. I was supposed to go to Rutgers after high school; no one expected anything different from me. Both of my parents had gone so I was a bit of a legacy kid. Rutgers was pretty perfect. It wasn’t far from home, my closest friends were going, it had a great athletics program (I know, I know), and there really wasn’t anything to hate about it except for the distance.
I didn’t want to be close to home. I didn’t want to go where 80% of my high school class was going after graduation. I didn’t want to be with the same people I grew up with. I wanted to leave New Jersey. So what did I do? After being stubbornly adamant against going to Rutgers? I went to a different state school, out-of-state. I remember handing my Rutgers sweatshirt back to my mom, saying, “I wouldn’t need it.” But I didn’t like the school; it was too far (ironically enough). So I came back home, went to community college, and got my associate’s degree. What did I do then? Transferred to Rutgers.
I was reluctant at first but I knew deep down that I was supposed to end up on the banks. I took a little detour but Rutgers still embraced me with open arms. So why am I a fan of Rutgers? It’s home now. I know the bus system like the back of my hand. I know the best places to get food on campus. And going to Rutgers automatically means that you’re a fan of the Scarlet Knights. Being a student is different from being a spectator; we’re not just casual fans. We live and breathe Rutgers. We don’t get to decide when or where we support the teams, we just do. We attend games and tailgate, and we go to Student Appreciation events, and we wear as much scarlet and black as we can. I bleed scarlet and black now, and I don’t think I’ll ever stop.
I can’t tell you specific games that I went to or scores or statistics, or other events that made me become a fan because there aren’t any. I can’t tell you how or when or where I became a Rutgers fan; I just did. And while there are plenty of things I can’t tell you, there are things that I can. I can tell you how I feel pulling on Rutgers merchandise and painting black underneath my eyes. I can tell you about the excitement in the air on game days (even though the team probably won’t win). I can tell you about the waits at the bus stops before we pile on to the dreaded Rutgers buses and shuttles, surrounded by students who look just like you and don't at the same time. I can tell you about disembarking those buses and entering High Point Solutions Stadium or the RAC or any other venue, and trying to find my way through a sea of scarlet and black. I can tell you how it feels to stand (not sit) in the student section, and I can tell you about the chants that have become Rutgers traditions. I can describe the atmosphere, how it smells and how it feels against my skin and how it becomes a part of me. I can tell you about the feelings of camaraderie and community and belonging, and how I’ve finally found a place I can call home.
I like to think that I didn’t choose Rutgers; it chose me. Even after all the years I spent telling people that I would never be a Rutgers kid, I’ve become one anyway. A different Rutgers sweatshirt is now hanging in my closet. I’ll (hopefully) be on my way out in a year, with a Bachelor’s degree to my name, but I know that Rutgers is my home. I’ll attend every game I can for now and when the day comes that the football team is a force to be reckoned with, I’ll be there too. All I can do now is support the teams that I grew up watching and loving, and instill that same kind of love in my younger brother, who committed to the Rutgers School of Engineering for the Fall 2017 semester just a few weeks ago. I know he’ll come to love the school and the teams just as much as I do. We’re a Rutgers family now and will always be one.
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