Tomorrow, the Boston College Class of 2019 will attend its first football game as BC students. I'm sure every BC alum reading this remembers the excitement of their first game as freshmen, and treasures the memories they made in Alumni Stadium across four autumns.
Advice to Whippersnappers: Savor it - Gameday remains an amazing experience after you graduate, but in an entirely different way. It's hard to explain exactly how it's different - in some ways it's better, in some ways it's not - but it just is. Attending games in the student section and cheering on your classmates is a fundamental part of the BC experience.
For most students, these games will be more of a casual backdrop. But some of you will inevitably go down the path those of us at BCI went down... the path to becoming a diehard, lifelong, possibly-slightly-deranged BC fan. In general, it's a rewarding, albeit frustrating experience.
BCI contributors who are also alums were invited to share some of their favorite memories and traditions from their years as students, so as to help welcome the Class of 2019 to BC fandom and share some of its joys. Let us begin.
AJ Black, Class of 2006
Even though I'm the football guy here, my fondest tradition and memory were both from basketball.
The Memory: BC basketball had started the season off 20-0, and were 21-1 and when the #9 ranked Syracuse Orangemen came to town. I went with my future wife to the game, which was completely packed with Superfans WAY before the game started. BC gave out newspapers with JUICE THE CUSE plastered on the front. Though many of you can't remember BC basketball even resembling being good, this team was filthy. Craig Smith was a beast on the boards, Sean Marshall was instant energy and an amazing scoring threat, and Jared Dudley was clutch. From the minute the teams came out of the tunnel, this game was ELECTRIC. Scoring swings both ways, insane hate towards Syracuse guard Gerry McNamara, and just holding on to win. And to finish it off? Storming the court. It was probably the best sporting event I have ever seen at BC (before last year's USC win).
Tradition: The 2005 basketball season was must watch basketball, every single game. I had season tickets while at BC, and it was a tradition for Sunday afternoon games to wake up and grab a late breakfast with my friends, and wife at Lower. Egg white omelete with extra bacon and mushroom, and home fries that were as addictive as heroin. Like clockwork that was my pre-game meal for every Sunday matinee game that season, which seemed to be every weekend. I still love to get that greasy treat anytime I am at BC in the morning.
Joe Gravellese, Class of 2010
So, a good chunk of freshmen come in basically having never heard of college hockey. You'll find out soon enough that BC sports fans eventually fall in to one of three camps when it comes to hockey. Most will probably attend a couple of hockey games a year, attend the Beanpot, learn about our general contempt for BU, and be able to do the "sieve" chant, but will know very little beyond that. (That's probably the healthy way to go.) Some will remain baffled by hockey and will never get into it at all... not even just to jump on the bandwagon when the team competes for a major trophy.
Others will become hockey lifers. Others will, like my friends and I did, find themselves lining up hours before gates open to secure front row seats; learning in-depth facts about schools people outside of hockey fandom have never heard of (what's up, Lake Superior State); and traveling far and wide to support BC.
My two favorite traditions/memories from my time as a student come from being part of that camp. First, is the tradition of the BC hockey banner. A friend of mine from the class of '07 painted up a maroon banner that has become ubiquitous at BC games at home and on the road:
This banner was passed down to me, and then in turn to folks from the class of '11, '12, '15, and now, I think, '17? Anyway, the tradition lives on, and I love it.
The other tradition/memory stems from going to road games. Because Hockey East is pretty geographically concentrated, if you're a hockey nut odds are you can go to a vast majority of BC's games, something you can't logistically do for the other sports on a college student's budget. But the real fun came in organizing huge groups of students to travel on the road. A few of us would band money together, buy a block of tickets, sell them to other students, and organize carpools to bring 60, 70, and once even over 300 students together in a group to away games all over New England. Needless to say we were not always well-received by the home fans, but the traveling support was always appreciated by our classmates on the team... and we always had a heck of a lot of fun.
This all culminated in the 2010 Frozen Four my senior year, for which we operated a caravan of about 35 or so of us who drove out to Detroit together, shared a few hotel rooms, stood together throughout both games, saw a national title, and emerged as lifelong friends if we weren't already. I'll cherish that trip for as long as I live - it served as a great culmination to my BC experience.
Grant Salzano, Class of 2010
Joe and I met at freshman orientation and we were roommates pretty much all the way through college. He ended up being the best man at my wedding. Now we write about BC sports in our spare time.
We did the most ridiculous things. We got a couple vans full of people to go up to Dartmouth for the NCAA women's hockey tournament, watching the team win in 2OT as huge underdogs. We went to every single Hockey East arena as students several times. I lost track of how many classes I missed going to hockey games with Joe. We took a 36 hour Greyhound bus trip across the country from Boston to Minneapolis to watch BC women's hockey. We took up residence in the same seats in the front row of every single BC hockey game an hour and a half before puck drop for four years.
It all went by way, way too fast. You can't get away with doing stupid crap like that when you're an adult, because "society" says I can't "sneak into the underbelly of UNH's hockey arena wearing a suit and try and and (unsuccessfully) try to steal the fish they throw on the ice." You also have the money to take planes instead of buses. There are also jobs, and spouses, and eventually kids, and often distance, which will get in the way once you throw your cap into the burning sunlight at Alumni Stadium.
I'm lucky enough to have writing for BCI to keep me connected to BC now that I've graduated. But the sting of seeing the tweets from the students lucky enough to have another year at the best place in the world is still fresh every September.
Recognize that every minute of every day you have with your friends at BC is a gift, and it doesn't last forever. Enjoy it while it lasts.
Bridget Klish, Class of 2011
One of my favorite memories of a BC game actually involves a loss.
My freshman year, fall 2007, was the year of Matt Ryan. We started the season 8-0 and we were ranked second in the nation. I was in the marching band and was totally high on football, as was most of the school.
My birthday is in November. That year the Florida State game was the weekend before my 18th birthday, and it was a home game. My whole family--parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins--were going to come up for the weekend, see the game, and then party for my birthday. Seriously, we had like a dozen people planning to come to this game.
Well, y'all remember the weather we had for that game, no? Freezing, torrential rain, sleet, the works. Seeing the storm in the forecast, my family decided to skip the trip for fear of traveling in the storm. But not my mom--my mom was determined to make this trip no matter what it took.
She stopped at the local gas station on our town's main drag before getting well on the road to Boston. She was friendly with the attendant, who asked where she was going in all the nasty weather. She explained that she was going to see me perform at a football game, and that a lot of other people were supposed to be coming but they had bailed. The attendant was sympathetic, and offered to lend my mom his extra slicker so that she'd stay warm and dry at the game.
And that's the story of how my mom, determined not to disappoint me, came to the Florida State game in a greasy yellow slicker and snow pants just to watch us lose. But she snuck into the student section and had an amazing time, and it remains one of my favorite BC memories. Thanks Mom ❤️
I can't really think of a tradition I would have had outside of band stuff, but of those, I would say the one where we recited a psalm and sang Amazing Grace before every game was probably my favorite. Praise God with LOUD SOUNDING cymbals.
Brian Favat, Class of 2004
My favorite memories capture what it really means to be a BC fan.
2001: I'm a sophomore at BC. We are getting hyped to knock off the #1 team in the country in what would've been a signature win for the football program during my time as a student. Trailing 12-7, BC is driving and looks poised to score the go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth quarter. St. Pierre drops back, throws a quick slant, and, well, this happens.
2004: My senior year, we manage tickets to the Frozen Four in Boston. If I'm remembering this right, we manage to secure box seats from a scalper in exchange for our regular seats. A very talented BC team gets completely stymied by an unconscious Jimmy Howard who stood on his head all night (and nearly managed to win the title game two days later). More heartbreak for this Eagles fan.
2007: Post-graduation, driving the 8 hours or whatever it took from New York to Blacksburg, Virginia to catch #2 BC's game against the Hokies. Jeff convinced me to make the long trek for the game. For about the first 57 minutes of the game, Jeff and I sat through some absolutely miserable weather. Clad in "Ryan For Heisman" shirts, I could only think of why the hell I drove all this way to watch this game. And then, Matt Ryan happens. And a successful onside kick happens. And Ryan to Challenger happens and Jags dances like a mad man and the 66k fans in Lane Stadium go completely silent. I'll never forget how quickly the stadium fell silent. What. a. game.
2007: A few weeks later, went to the BC @ Clemson game with the Atlantic Division on the line. I really can't do this game justice, but the thrill of wrapping up our first division title, getting to go on the field after the game, posing with Baldwin. Was one of my favorite memories following BC football as a fan after graduation. I guess that's the best thing about BC is that it sticks with you even after graduating. We got the sense that you really didn't want the 2007 season to end, and it's this season that spawned the idea for this blog.
John Fidler, Class of 1985
I'll give you a memory and a tradition:
- April 7, 2001 - Albany, NY. 52 years in the making as Pepsi Arena in Albany is transformed into Kelley Rink West for the 2001 NCAA Men's Ice Hockey Championship. BC takes a 2-0 lead late into the third period only to see North Dakota tie the game with under a minute left. The intermission between the 3rd period was one of the most discouraging 20 minutes in my life until an extremely talented, but enigmatic sophomore forward from Calgary, Alberta, Krys Kolanos, scored the most important goal in BC history, giving the Eagles a 4-3 OT victory and their first national title in ANY sport since 1949.
The bars did not close early in Albany that night and on the ride home Sunday, people hung out of windows, horns honked and the weight of the college hockey world was removed. As a sign behind the goal into which Kolanos scored proclaimed, "now I can die in peace"
- The playing of Roll Out The Barrel. One of the great traditions of both BC basketball and BC hockey was with 1 minute to go in a game which BC was "comfortably" ahead, the pep band would start to play the first few notes of the polka classic, Roll Out The Barrel. It grew to a crescendo as the fans clapped and celebrated an Eagle win. Sometimes, with a basketball game, it could take five minutes as a team fouled to finish it up and the song went on and on and on.
Playing during a game was something that the NCAA banned in both basketball and hockey and Roll Out The Barrel went the way of entering Alumni Stadium from the south side of the building via old Roberts Center, but many, many and Eagle win were punctuated with that tradition.
Laura Berestecki, Class of 2013
It is impossible for me to pick a single favorite memory/tradition, because the entire experience of BC hockey has been my favorite thing since I was a kid. So here's a few of my favorite BC Hockey memories from my undergrad years:
- Turning my BC friends from casual fans who thought I was a little crazy into big BC Hockey fans (shoutout to my freshman roommate/best friend, Becca, who by senior year was at the point where she skipped class to go to an away game with me).
- The 2010 National Championship game in Detroit. I flew out the morning of the final game, arrived with about two hours to spare, and ran into Coach York in the hotel elevator. (This was the time that my dad told Coach York that my family has a cat named after Nathan Gerbe... Awkward).
- The 2012 National Championship in Tampa. I think I stopped breathing for a few seconds when Gaudreau scored his last goal and it was clear that BC was going to win.
- The 2012 Beanpot. BC won on a goal by Arnold with 6.4 seconds left in overtime. There is nothing more exciting than winning a game like that. (Go to the Beanpot, BC students! It is the best time.) Drinking out of the Beanpot when the team comes back to BC/Cleveland Circle every year is another favorite :)
- That game in 2013 where Patrick Brown lost his stick on the penalty kill and played awesome defense to block shots and clear the puck. Words can't do it justice.
So go to hockey games freshmen! There is never a dull moment, and Jerry York is the best. (And check out the women's team too - they are really, really good!)