The Kyle Field Student Section Experience

With the second week of the 2013 college football season in the books, it is time to reflect on Texas A&M’s resounding 65-28 victory over Sam Houston State.

Saturday marked another visit to Kyle Field. This time though, I wasn’t surrounded by the general admission lot. Instead, I had joined the beating heart and soul of the university – the students.

A week prior, I had sat opposite the student section. My jaw regularly dropped to the floor as different yells and gestures were carried out in unison by 30,000 people.

This time though, I was in the thick of it.

After a generous offer to ‘sneak me in’ came my way, I wasn’t about to turn down the opportunity to join this mob that were thirsty for Sam Houston State’s blood – Not literally, may I add – I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting any vampires whilst in Texas yet and doubt that I ever will. Never say never though.

I will admit that my knowledge of SHSU was, and still is, minimal at best. Funnily enough, I didn’t even know that ‘Sam Houston’ was actually a US senator that lived during the nineteenth-century until about five minutes ago. Instead, I was under the impression that it may have just been a suburb of Houston.

With this in mind, to start ‘bringing the hate’ upon them felt a little wrong, but hell to it, with the combination of English football hooliganism in my ancestry and a couple of sips of Sam Adams, I was ready to roll.

Until the rain came.

Since landing in Houston over a week ago, I had barely seen a cloud – let alone a drop of the wet stuff. So it was sod’s law that the first time the heaven’s open during my stay is just as the game kicks off.

With thunder and lighting in the distance, the game quickly went by. Johnny Manziel was racking up yardage all over the place. He exited in the third quarter with 426 passing yards under his belt. The place had forgotten about the damn weather and was rocking.

Before the game, not many people had given SHSU a sniff. In fact, they probably have to be applauded for racking up 28 points. At least it gave the small pockets of orange around Kyle Field something to cheer about. Unfortunately, your mascot still looks like Tony the Tiger’s evil twin brother.

So, what did I make of the student section?

It’s certainly different than sitting in the general section, that is for sure.

Every few minutes, the yell leaders start doing what I can only describe as an ‘enthusiastic jig’ and as a result, the students know what is coming.

To begin with, I won’t lie, I was like a fish out of water. Everyone around me knew exactly what they were doing. Me though? I just copied everyone else – but was two seconds behind.

In fact, if you gave me the option to watch myself back, I genuinely don’t think I could do it. The embarrassment would be too much for me.

I will get there though. By the time the game was coming to a close, I had learned pretty much all of the different nuances. For example, as the field goal kicker Taylor Bertolet goes up to kick the ball, the Aggies hold up their hands whilst crossing their fingers praying for a good outcome.

Likewise, an integral symbol of Aggieland is giving a thumbs up. As the opposing teams punter kicks A&M the ball, the student section raise and shake their thumbs. It’s an odd and baffling concept written down, and like many things around this place – only makes sense when you see it in action.

And within that last sentence is a subject in itself. The perception and reality of Texas A&M – and what makes the society so special. Yet to outsiders that are looking in,  it could come across as borderline strange. Luckily for me though, I no longer consider myself as an outsider and fully understand the reasons behind decisions such as being one of the only college football teams not to have cheerleaders.

I shall keep the subject of outside perception for another time as I will need to don my serious hat for it. And that is something that I rarely bring out of the cloakroom.

For now though, I’m going to look forward to National Champions Alabama coming to town. A&M have had an easy start to their schedule, but next week will be the biggest test of them all.

It’s being billed as the biggest game of the 2013 college football season and after A&M won in Tuscaloosa last year, I can understand why.

Who will emerge victorious? This time next week, we’ll know.

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