After finishing up finals, it was nice to be home in Maryland for a couple of weeks – spending time with family and good friends, visiting my old stomping grounds, and eating as much good Chinese food as possible (something I have struggled a bit to find here in Austin). Although the two weeks went fast, I was so excited to come back to Austin, where I had a lot of fun things planned – the most exciting of which was flying to Phoenix with some McCombs friends for the 2009 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, where Texas was playing Ohio State.
I left for Phoenix the morning of the game, and my entire flight from Austin to Phoenix was dressed head to toe in burnt orange – in fact, much of the airport was sporting the same color. When we got to Phoenix, we got to pick our rental car color, and went with – you guessed it – burnt orange. We were so excited to get to the game, but first stopped for some lunch. In the restaurant, a random man yelled “TEXAS” to a loud full-restaurant response of “FIGHT” and I realized that even though we weren’t in Austin anymore, Austin sure seemed to follow us. It was an incredible atmosphere.
When we got to Glendale where the stadium was, we set up our car in one of the parking lots where a full-fledged Texas tailgate had already begun. We made quick friends with our car neighbors and had a blast meeting people and getting pumped up for the game. Having gone to a Division 3 undergrad, I was so excited and impressed by the scene.
When we finally made it to the stadium, I was equally impressed looking out at the crowd, which was full of both Texas and Ohio State fans (although I think Texas had a bigger presence). The game was good, if not a little boring up until half time. Texas pulled ahead, and we were soon on our feet, cheering on the longhorns. With only a few minutes left, it got entirely too close for comfort, as Ohio State pulled into the lead with just two minutes remaining for Texas to score a touchdown. In those last two minutes, I’m fairly certain I lost 10 years off my life expectancy. A fourth down conversion call had Texas fans jumping up and down high-fiving and hugging strangers, and the touchdown that soon followed had the entire stadium roaring. University of Texas – 2009 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl champs! We stayed for the awards show, and the token singing of “The Eyes of Texas.” It was a scene I won’t soon forget – being at this game with great friends, sharing the excitement with tens of thousands of fans who all share their own personal connection to Texas. It was absolutely amazing and filled me more than ever with Texas pride.