The Tailgating Traditions of the Lavin Family and the “Arizona Rebels”
An Interview With John and Sherry Lavin by HottyToddy.com
Enjoy the seventh in our series of Tailgating Traditions articles sponsored by Ole Miss Tailgating where you can even order Raising Cane’s® and Chick-fil-A® for your Grove Tent! (Click the Ole Miss Tailgating logo below to see the menu and order!)
John and Sherry Lavin, of Scottsdale, Arizona, along with their two Kappa Delta daughters, Zoe and Phoebe, have fallen in love with “tailgating in the Grove” and have raised the Grove’s national image even greater. They have started their own traditions.
HottyToddy.com’s Steve Vassallo caught up with the Lavins just prior to the Memphis Homecoming game and found their story fascinating.
HottyToddy.com: John and Sherry, tell our readers when your tailgating experience started.
John and Sherry: It actually began when our daughters arrived at Ole Miss, and since that time, we have become Grove regulars. In fact, we have been here in Oxford (at our second home) since August 1.
HottyToddy.com: Why did two young ladies from far away Arizona end up in Oxford, Mississippi?
John and Sherry: Zoe (our oldest) did not want to attend a university in-state (AZ) and as a result began focusing on SEC schools. She was a cheerleader in high school and absolutely loves football.
HottyToddy.com: Did either of you influence Zoe or attempt to dissuade her from attending a university so far away from Scottsdale?
John and Sherry: We actually met at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio and that is where the similarity with Oxford, Mississippi starts and stops. Zoe conducted her own research, and after visiting here, she stated, “I belong here.” (We learned in the course of our conversation that Scottsdale is 1400 miles away and constitutes a two-day trip to get here.)
HottyToddy.com: Are the Ole Miss alumni clubs in Arizona very active?
John and Sherry: Yes, they are. We typically have 20 or more participants when our group gets together.
HottyToddy.com: Returning to the Grove (as we always enjoy doing) and tailgating, how have these experiences affected you?
John and Sherry: It actually took us two years to figure everything out. One of the best things was when we found a company that could set it up for us. John grew up being an OSU fan (Ohio State) and believes the tailgating experience here is in a much higher class accompanied with all the traditions. (According to John, it’s also a little more civil!)
HottyToddy.com: So what are your food traditions?
John and Sherry: Sherry and our daughters plan and prepare most of the food. Friends will bring additional items. We have also done, for example, MyGuys biscuits for breakfast before.
HottyToddy.com: What about any special decorations?
John and Sherry: The main thing is that ever since we got our Arizona Rebels sign, almost every game we meet someone new from Arizona. We welcome any Arizona Rebel to stop by. At the Memphis game, we met a gentleman and his daughter (an Ole Miss freshman) from Arizona who brought a friend. It turned out the friend’s sister happens to work with me (John) in Arizona.
HottyToddy.com: Have you introduced any other family members to Ole Miss and the Grove?
John and Sherry: Yes. Sherry’s father, Jim Fox, and his wife, Judy came to the Memphis game. They loved the Grove experience so much they are coming back for the Mississippi State game. In fact, we have decided to celebrate Thanksgiving in Oxford.
HottyToddy.com: Are there any negatives?
John and Sherry: Everyone must tolerate the crowds, which is part of it. With the new field club house, we can sit with the girls at the games even though they have their own groups of friends.
HottyToddy.com: Looking beyond the girls’ Ole Miss experience, what comes next?
John and Sherry: Zoe will likely gravitate to either DC or Nashville utilizing her Political Science degree. As for Phoebe, we see her going to grad school or Law School while continuing her education in preparing for a career.
HottyToddy.com: We have talked about your daughters, but what about you?
John and Sherry: John is with CVS Health as Sherry is a stay-at-home mom. Scottsdale, our home, is a city of approximately a half million and is considered part of the Valley of the Sun and the greater Phoenix metro area.
HottyToddy.com: If you could change anything about Ole Miss, what would this be?
John and Sherry: Limiting the size of the student body. Regarding Oxford, the infrastructure of the town is quite stressed. We like the summers here as the absence of the students allows the town to be much easier to navigate. Building up the infrastructure will be a real positive.
HottyToddy.com: It has been an absolute pleasure visiting with you. What is it you enjoy the most about tailgating at Ole Miss?
John and Sherry: For us, it’s enjoying time with our family, meeting new people and spending time with other friends we’ve met at Ole Miss.
Steve Vassallo is a HottyToddy.com contributor. Steve writes on Ole Miss athletics, Oxford business, politics and other subjects. He is an Ole Miss grad and former radio announcer for the basketball team. Currently, Steve is a highly successful leader in the real estate business who lives in Oxford with his wife Rosie. You can contact Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 985-852-7745.