The noise is always at a fevered pitch right before a game at the TCF Bank Stadium, as we get ready to cheer for our boys in maroon and gold. The impressive marching band and our favorite mascot are in rare form, welcoming both the fresh new recruits and seasoned veterans as they hit the field on opening day this year. The first Gopher Football game of the season and the noise from the fans is deafening as three parachuters land on the field during the National Anthem! Fans filled every one of the 51,000 seats in our open air stadium on a perfect late summer evening. Life can be so good on game day!
The student section is packed to the very top of the stadium with excited and energetic young people. They dance, sing, and chant throughout the game, not wasting a second sitting down. Jangling keys and traditional chants, you can count on them to add that extra excitement, as well as the many laughs that make live college sports different from any pro game you might attend.
As most fans know, some football games can have you on pins and needles the entire game, awaiting the final results. This game was no exception. Did the Gophers play a perfect game? They know they could have done a better job. But the fact that we held our own against the number two team in the nation is very exciting and the promise of a great season to come.
All of us at the Lake Elmo Inn Event Center have been anticipating the opening game for the last several weeks because we have the pleasure of spending time in training camp with the players and coaches. We served the meals to our hungry athletes as they prepared for the upcoming season. It is an honor, and exciting for us, to spend time with the team preseason as they develop and grow into the confident athletes you see on the field. Hopes are high and motivation is strong. Chef John Schiltz and Chef Mike Juelich attended a nutrition program years ago and work closely with the team’s nutritionist to make sure these young people get what they need to perform at their best in very high stress training conditions. Our catering team will typically feed the Gophers four meals a day for one to two weeks each year during training camp. It is amazing to see the volume of food these young people can consume when they are working out at that level. This year we served 7200 pieces of bacon as part of their breakfasts for the 10 consecutive days we fed them. We also prepared over 1000 pounds of protein for their dinners. But it doesn’t stop with the meat. Balance is the rule of the day. Imagine consuming 6 cases of pineapples, 8 cases of strawberries, and 10 watermelons a day! We do our best to make sure they have well rounded choices for all of their meals.
Coach Kill, who is in his fifth year at Minnesota, brought in his own special brand of magic that seemed to spread throughout the team and fans alike. As is his custom, the third year at a school usually turns into a memorable one. The University of Minnesota was no different as 2012 was the turnaround year for the Minnesota Gophers. You can feel the positive energy from the team as they run out on the field. Coach Kill preaches words and phrases like “One heart beat”, Legacy, Relentless, Loyalty, “Brick by Brick”, and “Win for each other”. He loves his team and his school, and they love him. We hear students chanting “Jerrysota” as a tribute to the loyalty he gains from these young people. It is inspiring.
I still like to brag that our uniforms are the sharpest in the league, our Goldy is the most endearing of all mascots, and I am even thinking to myself “No one could have a better marching band than the University of Minnesota!” It is an amazing feeling of pride one feels when they support their local community team. Our University of Minnesota Golden Gophers will always have a special place in our hearts! Ski-U-Mah!