Sunday, September 25, 2022

11-year-old Ole Miss Fan Cheers Rebels Back Against The Tigers


Caroline Payne. Photo courtesy of Andy Knef /
Caroline Payne. Photo courtesy of Andy Knef /

Caroline Payne, age 11, waited all night to lead her section of Ole Miss fans at Jordan-Hare Stadium in the HottyToddy cheer. The Atlanta resident was attending her first Rebel game ever in her new Rebel t-shirt with her best friend Jake Rodenhiser, 8, and his family by her side.

Tragically, some poor Ole Miss first-half play, subdued the surrounding Rebel crowd and Caroline was reduced to an occasional, but hearty, “Go Rebels,” cheer. Each time she yelled, her buddy Jake, an Ole Miss fan himself, but bashful with typical 8-year-old shyness, tried to muffle her screams with the palm of his hand. Jake was only stoking the fire in Caroline’s heart.

As Caroline conducted her first-ever media interview with early in the third quarter, inspiration suddenly grabbed the rambunctious youngster. Standing up boldly she roared the familiar intro “Are you ready?” The crowd rose out of their doldrums and followed their young leader in a rousing rendition of the HottyToddy cheer. Despite the game score, Little Caroline had accomplished her mission. She did her best to bring the Rebels back.

Lisa,Jake, Chelsea, Michael Rodenhiser and Caroline Payne. Photo courtesy of Andy Knef /
From left to right: Lisa Rodenhiser,Jake Rodenhiser, Chelsea Rodenhiser, Michael Rodenhiser and in front Caroline Payne. Photo courtesy of Andy Knef /

Lisa Rodenhiser, celebrating her 50th Caroline the opportunity of a lifetime. “We’re huge Ole Miss fans and this was my choice to spend my 50th next-door neighbor,” Lisa said. “Caroline’s parents are big LSU fans but we’ve nearly succeeded in converting her.”

Lisa’s husband Michael is a medical services representative in Atlanta. He grew up a staunch Rebel backer because of his dad Stewart Rodenhiser. The Jackson native played two years for the Rebels in the late 1940s before the Korean war as a flanker and backup quarterback.

When asked about her football loyalties, Caroline was diplomatic. Still, the truth twinkled in her infectious smile. “I like both teams (LSU and Ole Miss),” she said, “but this is my first Ole Miss game and the excitement with the band, cheerleaders and players is really fun.”

— Andy Knef, Managing Editor,

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