Friday, October 7, 2022

True Rebel Dedication: How Some Rebel Fans Go to Home Games

Ole Miss has droves of loyal fans who have proven their love through voyages across the Southern states for  away games as well waking up before the sun to hang chandeliers in tents in the Grove. A couple of fans upped the ante and bought real estate just for the weekend home games in Oxford.
Scott Martinez, president of North Louisiana Economic Partnership, owns a condo at 406 Lark Run in Audubon Park inside Northpointe.

Martinez purchased this condo in April 2013 after moving to north Louisiana from Austin, TX.
Martinez purchased this condo in April 2013 after moving to north Louisiana from Austin, Texas.

Martinez became an Ole Miss fan when he attended the University of Mississippi. His first Ole Miss game was the Egg Bowl in 1992.
“Even in the freezing weather, I was hooked when the Pride of the South played ‘From Dixie with Love,’ ” Martinez said. “I was the first person in my family to attend Ole Miss, and now most of my family follows Ole Miss.
“I made most Ole Miss home games when I lived in Texas,” Martinez said, “One of the things that was attractive when I was considering my current position was it was closer to Oxford than when I lived in Austin. In fact, when the headhunter approached me about this position he said, ‘I have an opportunity you should consider that will get you closer to Ole Miss and your mama in Laurel.’ I have a wonderful position but I must admit those two things were attractive to me when I was considering this position.”
Martinez enjoys “always having a place to stay” in Oxford as well as “great neighbors.” He usually arrives in Oxford on Thursday or Friday to prepare for the weekend. If he does come to town on Thursday he goes to the Quarterback Club meeting.
He keeps his condo well-stocked with “40 different bourbons on hand”.’ Martinez said he has a Grovin’ crew and enjoys eating dinner with them pre- or post-games. Sometimes he cooks and hosts guests at his condo. He said, “Perhaps the best thing (of having a condo in Oxford) is introducing people to Oxford and Ole Miss. Sundays are always tough driving back to Shreveport.”
He doesn’t mind being an Ole Miss fan in north Louisiana and even said it was easier than being an Ole Miss fan in Texas. “Generally, Louisianans understand, respect, and appreciate the quality of competition in the Southeastern Conference,” Martinez said.
Another Louisiana resident and Ole Miss fanatic also has a condo in Oxford: Sandy Brooks, realtor and associate broker at Patterson Real Estate Agency, Inc. in Houma, Louisiana. Her condo is located in Turnburry Condominiums at 2100 Old Taylor Road.
Brooks purchased a condo here in January 2006: "A few months after Hurricane Katrina," Brooks said.
Brooks purchased a condo here in January 2006, “a few months after Hurricane Katrina,” Brooks said.

“We had started coming back to a few football games, and then, the closest we were able to stay back then was Grenanda,” Brooks said. “Our daughter, an Ole Miss graduate, and her family was about to move back to New Orleans from Dallas, so we justifiably decided we needed a place for us to all evacuate to in the event of another hurricane! We did all spend 10 days there during Gustav in 2008, but no real threats since, thank God!”
Unlike Martinez in north Louisiana, Brooks joked that Ole Miss fans are a minority in southern Louisiana.
“I went to Louisiana Tech, so I had no real allegiance to LSU, but we do support them when they are not playing Ole Miss.”
Brooks and her husband are card-carrying Tiger Athletic Fund (TAF) members. Her husband, Ron, started a blood drive a few year ago as a community event when he challenged all Tiger fans to “bleed purple and gold.” Brooks said her husband decks out in Ole Miss red and blue during the drives and provides incentives for these annual blood drives. The incentives are $1,000 to the TAF and $1 per pint to the local hospital. Two years ago he had to cut “LSU” on back of his head when the blood drive goal was reached.
“This year the goal is 1,150 pints, and every donor will receive a chance to win a football signed by Archie, Peyton and Eli Manning,” Brooks said. “And TAF will receive yet another $1,000 donation, as the goal has been reached every year.”
As for Ole Miss home games, the Brooks drive for six hours and arrive in town on Thursday. When they are ready, they meet up with their accumulated group of friends who also have homes or condos in Oxford for Groving as well as traveling to away games and a few side trips, too. Despite all the fun, the Brooks stayed busy but hopeful for longer stays in Oxford.
“As busy real estate brokers, we work all the way up in the car and most of the day Friday from the condo,” Brooks said. “We are looking forward to staying all week between the games sometimes in the near future. We’ve only done this twice so far.”
Their condo is not only used for the football games but as well as baseball and basketball games. Brooks explained she comes three or four weekends but since she is busier during the spring her husband takes along friends for a guys’ weekend in Oxford.
“He has brought up so many LSU and Tulane fans,” Brooks said. “They all love Oxford! He as acquired many more friends who aspire to be on “the LIST,” especially for the LSU games. If we were in Oxford full time, Ron would go to every sporting event he could, women sports included!”
The dedication expressed by these Ole Miss fans are impressive, yet a more awe-inspiring is an Australian’s journey across half of the globe from Brisbane, Australia, to Oxford to watch the Rebels played against Troy last year.
Amanda Wojcik, Australian native, shows off her Rebel pride. (courtesy of Wojcik)
Amanda Wojcik, Australian native, shows off her Rebel pride. (courtesy of Wojcik)

Amanda Wojcik, Australian native, decided one day to follow college football.
“I went through a rigorous selection process for the right team,” Wojcik said. “After spending about three month shopping around, looking at school traditions, history, and so on. I went with the school my favorite NFL player attended, so Patrick Willis is how I became a fan.”
In Australia, if Wojcik is lucky, watches about five or six Ole Miss games per season.
“The ones that were always the most amazing to watch were home games,” she said. “Having a few American friends who are big on college football, they would tell me how tailgating in the Grove is one of the best experiences and I always felt like I was missing out on the overall experience.”
Wojcik has not attended classes at University of Mississippi, let alone set foot on American soil. Despite this, she decided to make the pilgrimage to Oxford to see the Grove and Ole Miss play for herself. She planned to come to the Rebels vs. Razorbacks game. She booked her tickets and counted down days for four whole months. This journey included a 14-hour-flight to Los Angeles then a seven hour stop-over with a connecting flight to Memphis. She arrived in Memphis, too exhausted to move from the jet lag.
“Imagine that! My first ever Rebels home game and I couldn’t go,” she said, “I pulled up the game schedule and figured with some clever work I could get to the game against Troy. Sure, it wasn’t a big game, but a game nonetheless.”
She phoned her airline and paid $350 to change flights. She picked up end zone tickets for $4 off Stub Hub. The “Game Day Attempt No. 2” arrived with rainy clouds.
“I was still determined to go, much to my boyfriend’s disappointment,” she said, “You’d think at this point everything would go to plan, right? Try getting 40 minutes out of Memphis and realizing I left the tickets behind.”
When she was finally back on the road she started to feel the football fever. Universities in Australia were “purely academic, not sport.” She saw gas stations and roadside stops blazing red and blue with Ole Miss colors.
“It was everywhere right down to the bumper stickers and license plates,” she said.
She arrived to the campus wearing her “Ole Miss finest” dress despite the heavy storm. As she walked along the campus streets, she fell in love.
“Nothing can put into words how beautiful Ole Miss is — the architecture, the trees, and looming in the distance was the Vaught-Hemingway stadium,” she said dreamily. “And everywhere I went, when anyone heard me talk and heard the Aussie accent, it was like they went above and beyond to showcase the whole experience.”
The Grove was spectacular to her, but the crown jewel of her Oxford experience was the game.
“Nothing beats the game itself,” Wojcik said. “To see Bo Wallace throw the ball, to watch Treadwell score two touchdowns, to watch Logan and Moncrief in action. That was what drew me from the other side of the planet to Oxford, Mississippi.
“The spirit of Rebel Nation to me didn’t come alive until I was sitting inside the Vaught and feeling it, and it’s hard to describe what that feeling is. It’s more than just supporting a football team, it’s about being a part of an Ole Miss family. I felt a little teary-eyed at the end of that day driving back to Memphis and another 9,000 miles journey home. Loving this team would never be quite the same for me (since that trip).”
Callie Daniels is a staff writer at HottyToddy.com. Email her at callie.daniels@hottytoddy.com for comments, criticisms, or story ideas.

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