The excitement and hope of a new season. The first game for a new coach. Over
110,000 fans in attendance. Returning students ready to cheer and have a great
time. Free tickets to the game with good friends. Everything was in place for a
The one tiny flaw in the perfection was the heat. After a sweaty walk to the
stadium, we hung out in the shade of the concourse with thousands of others
looking to stay cool as long as possible. People sat on the cement floor along the
walls, next to columns, anywhere they could find. Some managed to find shade outside the concourse, and sprawled on the grass near the few trees around or in the shadow
of the giant new scoreboards.
We didn’t arrive early enough to find a seat, but we bought water, brats, a soft
pretzel, and popped maize (no popcorn for sale in the land of maize and blue), and
spent some time people watching. Mostly this involved “what people are wearing” watching. Some favorites:
- Marvin’s Mom and Marvin’s Dad (since these also had #3, let’s assume they were safety Marvin Robinson’s parents)
- Ohio State Cheats (a perennial favorite in Ann Arbor)
- Friends Don’t Let Friends Go To State ( a conversation starter for our group, which included a State alum)
- blue and maize striped knee socks (not a good look, but high marks for team loyalty)
Once we got to our seats in the third row of the end zone, which meant walking down
about 60 rows, we found ourselves right next to the student section. Since they stand up all game, they blocked the sun to some extent, allowing us to hunker down in their shadows and avoid the hot sun. Yay students!
The home team started slowly, but soon came roaring back. By the end of the first quarter they were on the 2-yard line, ready to score. And then the quarter ended and they moved to the other end zone. Oh well, we didn’t get to see the first touchdown of the year up close and personal, but the new scoreboard screen showed it clearly and we could
definitely join in the cheering. We did get to see Michigan’s interception on the 6-yard line, and the beginning of the 94-yard return for a touchdown.
The score was 20-10 at halftime as we watched both bands play. WMU’s band marched in shorts, tee shirts, and a plumed hat, which looked as funny as it sounds but was, honestly, a smart move. The UM band wore full band regalia, and we heard that 16 band members and flag bearers had passed out from the heat during the first half. Certainly their faces looked unhealthily red as they marched by.
In the third quarter, UM took control of the game. There’s still some room for improvement on special teams and defense, but the team looked good.
What didn’t look good at that point was the weather. Apparently Mother Nature decided the heat wasn’t enough and threw some storms our way. At first it was great—the clouds blocked the sun and the wind cooled us off. The man behind us announced, “If it rains, I’m not leaving. I’m going to get a bar of soap.”
The first drops were COLD. For a few minutes each individual drop sent a chill through me. Then the deluge came. Within seconds we were all soaked. I’m not sure if the man behind us actually pulled out a bar of soap, but a little kid a few rows back was squealing with delight as the rain poured. The crowd, bless their hearts, cheered even louder.
Apparently there was lightning in the area, because they suspended play.
The teams left the field. They showed local Doppler radar on the scoreboard screens. The cheerleaders left the field. The sun came out. The band left the field. The crowd chanted, “We want football.”
And we got more football, but not for long. With 1:37 left in the 3rd quarter,
the game was suspended again, and everyone told to leave the stadium. We climbed back up the 60 rows, bought some food and drink to fortify ourselves for the walk back to my house, and headed out in the pouring rain.
Luckily the lightning wasn’t too close, so the walk home was funny, not scary. At some point we just started laughing as we sloshed through the rain and splashed in the puddles.
Once home we grabbed towels and dry clothes. After pouring the water out of our shoes and wringing out our shirts, we settled down with snacks and warm beverages and watched a little more football on TV.
What a perfect day.
Thanks to Q, MG, and CB for the photos.