Experiencing New Traditions, One Game At A Time

Last Updated by Cara Hetland on

To say I love football is an understatement. I love the game, the stories of players who overcome the odds, the stories of successes, the stories of life lessons learned, and the stories of what it means to be a team. For me high school football is the purest sense of playing with heart.

I grew up in Nebraska and never bought in to all the hype of wearing Red. I left the state for college and was all in as a Drake Bulldog. The school wasn’t known for football back then, actually they cut football while I was there and had to say goodbye to many new friends. So when I heard that SDSU will play Drake in the opening of the Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium I just HAD to go.

Car Ride.jpegMy family and I

I have a daughter at SDSU and my husband is a graduate of the wildlife biology program there, so I do cheer for state. I didn’t wear my 30 year old Drake sweatshirt – it’s torn and tattered and just not well accepted by my fashion conscious 14 year old.

We got to the game a few hours early and spent time eating burgers and chips in the parking lot in the shadows of the new stadium. The excitement of being there was contagious and rippled throughout the open tailgates.

I secretly hoped there would be a “tah-dah” moment as I walked through the gate or maybe harps would play or some type of fanfare. But I was one of the crowd being shuffled through and tossed a blue fan towel in search of the nearest restroom. I did notice ice cream was for sale, of course, and made a note to get back there.

Stands Shot.jpegDana J Dykhouse Stadium

The stadium is beautiful, and matched all the hype and expectations. My row was packed and a little creative shoulder placement was needed for comfort. But when you spend most of your time standing and cheering ... it’s okay. My eyes were drawn to the video board – there were messages of welcome, the story of the stadium, the hype of the players running on the field and all things crowd-pleasing. The thing that struck me most though was the sound. The low rumble coming from the speakers reverberated throughout the stands. The fans in unison stomping their feet and being loud on a third down drive.

I realized as I marveled at the colorful sunset behind the stands, it didn’t matter my Alma mater was playing. I was in the moment at my first game in the new stadium. I was a proud South Dakota State fan, celebrating something new, something big, something that points to a bright future, something we can all be proud of.

Sunset Still.jpegThe sun sets on my game day experience

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