Caitlin Rickard: Celebrating the boys of autumn

It’s finally that time of the year again.
Sep 3, 2013
Caitlin Rickard is a staff writer with The Democrat. Email her at or follow her on Twitter @wilsonnewswritr.

It’s finally that time of the year again.

The words have been highlighted in my planner probably since the very last play of last season: football begins.

Now, being in the heart of Tennessee it’s hard to admit that I’m an Alabama girl, and I bleed crimson... well, actually it’s not that hard.

If I’m being completely honest, though, I’m just glad anyone is playing football. Yeah, Alabama is the team that I stress over for three hours every Saturday, but watching any high school, college or NFL team will do.

The Alabama fandom runs deep in my blood and you wouldn’t dare wear orange and blue together if you were in my family, but I’ve also had a pretty fond love for the Florence Falcons since I went to high school there.

I’ll confess we were never amazing, but we weren’t terrible either. But I think football really began to mean something to me in high school.

I’m sure everyone can relate to high school boys and their shenanigans and immaturity, but something about putting on that jersey and standing as one on Friday nights made you envy the sense of family they had for one another.

Or if you ever watched Friday Night Lights (the TV show, not the movie) it was so easy to have tears well in your eyes when Coach Taylor prepped his Texas state champion players.

It was a way of life and in the falls it’s all you know.

I think especially (and maybe only) in the south football really is a way of life.

Businesses close early on Fridays and the school day revolves around game preparation. And Saturdays are spent in the sweltering heat or frigid winter on a Quad somewhere in the middle of a college campus.
Personally, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Attending the University of Alabama in fall 2009, football was still slightly on the backburner because I guess the emotional connection just wasn’t there yet, but not for long.

In my freshman year at the Capstone, not only did Mark Ingram lead the Tide to a national championship, but he took home the Heisman Trophy, too.

Since then I truly can say I know what school pride is.

If you’ve ever been to Bryant-Denny and had the hair on your arms stand straight up watching the pre-game hype videos filled with remnants of our previous SEC and national championships, as well as moments that led us there (Terrence Cody blocking UT’s last-second field goal attempt in 2009, anyone?) then you know what I’m talking about.

Though we didn’t fare as well in the 2010 season, we still showed up every Saturday just like the players and waited patiently for our time.

Of course, with Nick Saban at the helm you’re team is bound to be back on top.

My junior and senior year I cried and cheered my way through the football season. Whether it was the heartbreaking losses to LSU and Texas A&M at home or the team’s dedication to the tornado that destroyed campus on April 27, 2011, the boys of fall stood united.

And I can say, with a beaming smile, that in my four years at UA, I was a part of three national titles. Pretty good, huh?

But I hope it doesn’t stop there.

Who knows, Coach Saban may have taken one of his pep talks from the now-infamous Coach Taylor.

Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.

Caitlin Rickard is a staff writer with The Democrat. Email her at or follow her on Twitter @wilsonnewswritr.


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