I wasn’t sure what photo to use to headline this post. Or what to write for that matter… A recap of another exhilarating road win… another demon crossed off our list… extending our perfect record to 4-0. Back in the national rankings… So what photo to use… An action shot of a play? One of friends, or the band? The giant California flag we brought?
Nope. Others can recap the game better than I can. This weekend, and the moment captured up there in particular, reminds me of why we love sports. And why I love and am so passionate about Cal. That’s my buddy Emmett. A few weeks ago I talked his dad Dave Tjen – one of the most hard core Cal fans I know – into joining me in Seattle for Emmett’s first ever Cal road game.
We stayed at the team hotel and throughout Friday evening as we just relaxed, had dinner and hung out in the lobby, player after player would come up and say hi to Emmett and high five or fist bump him… Daniel Lasco, Steven Moore, Mike Barton, Kenny Lawler, Stefan McClure and so many others… Coach Dykes came up and said hi, and a little later Kate Dykes – who is simply sensational – came and joined us for a while too. Later, well after midnight, Emmett was so excited he couldn’t get to sleep.
After the game we hung around with the families to see the players and staff and just soak in the good feelings of another win. I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating because it amazes me how many people don’t get this; winning is more fun than losing. And winning is also really hard, so when you win, you need to enjoy it.
It is absolutely endearing how the guys treat our fans, and especially our young fans. And then something REALLY special happened… both Trevor Davis and Chris Borrrayo gave Emmett their game gloves… now to say Emmett was excited would be an understatement.
So after dinner and getting back to the hotel, when Emmet was finally able to get to sleep, he went to sleep the only way a 10 year old would know how; wearing those gloves he was given! I can only wonder what he was dreaming about… Ah, to be ten again!
People get on me sometimes because when it comes to Cal I’m relentlessly, or unrelentingly, positive. I just don’t have time or the room in my life for being negative and bitching and moaning. Am I disappointed when we lose, oh yea I am. Do I find myself thinking that it’s crazy I allow something over which I have no control, played by a bunch of 18-22 year old guys, to impact my emotional state and mood? Yep. And it is. But it’s what makes life so incredibly fun.
I even got a hug from Kate Dykes – actually a few… and you know what, hugs of joy are awesome! We need more of those! After our next win, hug the Cal fan next to you!
I want to close this out with my other favorite moment of the weekend. Last week in Austin, Stephen Anderson dropped a pass – an easy pass – that would have clinched the victory in much less dramatic fashion than it took to get the win over Texas… But because this is a TEAM we still won the game… the team gets your back!
Ken MontgomerySpectacular. Simply spectacular. By the way, loved you yelling at Stephen to get that look off his face (or whatever it was you yelled) after Saturday’s game… LOVED it!!!
But, when he came over with the team to celebrate with the fans he wasn’t looking so happy… and then, oh and then you could hear it, his mother yelling “WIPE THAT SAD LOOK OFF YOUR FACE!!!” Nobody, but nobody, is messing around with Charlene Anderson! I LOVED IT!!! He talked about it here and about how his mom is always there for a kiss… and sure enough, after the game on Saturday…
This team has something special going but they know it’s all about focusing on the next game… The next game is ALWAYS the most important game. But if they do that they should embrace Coach Martin’s rallying call “WHY NOT CAL!” So there you go. Cal is 4-0. We haven’t lost a game. We’ve won twice on the road already. Don’t worry about the flaws, you have no control over it. Just appreciate and enjoy the wins. And you know what, don’t be afraid to be a 10-year old again and DREAM of a Rose Bowl…
25 years ago this week, easily one of the most momentous occasions in my life happened… I’d like to say I was 14, but I know no one will believe it. On September 15, 1990, during a Cal Football game against the defending national champion Miami Hurricanes, I stepped out of the student section in Memorial Stadium to commandeer the mic and begin my stint as micman. Nothing in my life has meant more to me than my relationship with Cal and that moment cemented for me for all time just how impactful it would be. It has been a phenomenal ride that to this day allows me to meet so many great people from every walk of life, every age, from students to alumni to notables and fans alike. But if you’ll allow me I’d like to set this up just a bit.
A couple of Sundays ago I had the incredible privilege and thrill to address the Cal Football team after practice as they prepared to head into a new season. I wrote about it here and I think it’s safe to say you’ll be hearing this story over and over as I get older!
I’m a big believer in seizing a moment when life presents it. I believe this year has the potential to be a special year for the Cal Football team. Now these moments don’t come along often… They’re what I call “Brass Ring Moments.” I relayed to the team that the opportunity this year is theirs. They just have to recognize it. They have to believe they can take it. And then, and this is the important part, they have to actually go and GRAB THE BRASS RING!!!
Hey Chancellor Tien… GO!!!! “GO BEARS!!!”
Well 1990 was one of those moments for me. And because, I’m sure without really thinking, I grabbed the brass ring, my life has been changed in ways I would have never imagined.
When I was a kid growing up, my friends and I would hop on BART and venture into Berkeley to go to Cal games… We would eat at Blondies, pass all the houses… I dreamed of one day sitting in that student section as a Cal student… If we had a day off from school, my best friend J.R. DeLaney and I would go with his sister who was a student and tag along (I’m sure she loved that) and would actually sit in classrooms and just be in awed reverence of where we were.
Do not attempt to wear these short shorts at home. *Rugby players exempted
So when I finally made it into Cal we were in the middle of a pretty rough stretch. But as I said, 1990 was going to be different. Now a little back story is that I had sort of been an informal mic-man at hoops games for a while. There was a guy that used to do it – Dave, and I cannot remember his last name, so if anyone know him let me know. He was a good guy and I think a good mic-man. If he wasn’t at a game, I would lead some cheers and I liked it. My friends and I always sat in the same place at Harmon; first row directly opposite opposing team bench (that way we could taunt them more). So people definitely knew who I was.
At the time, I was also the doorman at Raleigh’s so people knew me from there too. Matter-of-fact, when we had a line at Raleigh’s I would let people in based on whether they could answer CAL trivia or sing lyrics to the fight songs. All this is my way of saying that when I eventually took the mic people were familiar with me and knew my passion.
So it was September 15, 1990. Miami was coming off of their National Championship. The week before, CAL had beat Wisconsin, in Madison. This was also Russell White’s first game in Memorial… There was a sense something big could be happening… even so, back then Cal wasn’t much of a draw and only 47,000 people there that day.
So we’re playing Miami tight in an entertaining game. But the students just weren’t really “into” it. At that time there was a “team” of micmen, and they were terrible. Now I don’t want that to sound too harsh because their hearts were in the right place, but they just didn’t quite have that intangible you need to be a great micman. So I think it was the third quarter and while CAL had the ball, one of the mic folks started chanting a defense chant… I have no idea what he was thinking (hey sometimes we all blank on situations) but I distinctly remember dropping my head into my hands in resigned frustration.
So two of my friends with me at the game, Erin and DeAnn, totally started saying “you should go down and do it…” Well, to be honest, it didn’t take much encouragement ;-) So I walked down the steps, went up to the podium and literally said “Would you mind giving me the mic…” and I just took the microphone. And there I was in front of 7,000 of my fellow students with no plan or intentions that day of doing this.
Honestly, I remember it like it was yesterday and the title of this entry is how it all started. CAL was down by 7. I turned to the crowd, which had been apathetic, and said “Hey Everyone. We are playing the defending national champions… we are only down by 7. The team is playing great. But you don’t seem to be in the game. Listen, we come here to have fun right?” And sort of to my surprise a lot of people shouted back “YEAH!” And then I said “So are you ready to start making some noise and getting behind the team?” And again, more people shouted “YEAH!” So then I said “O.K., here’s what we’re going to do. It’s an oldie, it’s simple and effective. On three, everyone yell GO BEARS!…. One, two, three”, and then you know what, everyone yelled “GO BEARS!!!”
I can’t explain what a high it was and how exhilarating to have everyone do what I just told them to do. Then I said “You can’t cheer sitting down, you all need to stand up!” That’s right, back in the day people actually sat down during the games… So then everyone got up… again, I was thinking to myself “wow, they’re doing what I’m saying.” So we did another Go Bears! and that is how it all started… Now, sometimes in life you need providence… So a little later Miami was about to punt and I got everyone chanting “Block that kick! Block that kick!” and you know what, we blocked the punt!!! Now we had absolutely nothing to do with it… So I of course immediately turned to the students and said “THAT WAS ALL YOU!!!” a they went wild, and while I am sure it was unrelated, it got everyone thinking they could have an impact on the game. It was awesome.
Even though we lost the game literally hundreds of people came up to me after, in the stadium, at parties at Raleigh’s and told me I should keep doing it.
That Monday, when I got back from classes I had three messages on my answering machine. One was from then AD Dave Maggard. I would later find out that Jack Clark was standing with him on the sidelines during the game and told him “You need to get that guy (me) doing that permanently!” The second message was from Coach Snyder thanking me. Now think how cool that is for the football coach to call a student he didn’t know to thank him for something like that. The third message was from Diane Milano asking me to come meet with her to do it full time.
And that’s basically how it started. It was an amazing three year run that ended with the Big Game in 1992 and the student section ceremoniously rolling me up! You could not have had a better exit for a micman!
I made sure to hand off my wallet to a friend before getting rolled up! Made it all the way to the top!
And 25 years later Cal is as big a part of my life as it was then… I’m so incredibly fortunate that I get to stay so involved… I’m telling you, they’re going to be wheeling me out at the bonfire rallies when I can no longer walk!
We live in an amazing time, because of technology and social media, where traditional boundaries don’t exist… as a result I have so many friends that span generations… From people well into retirement, to my own age, in their 30s and for me the most fun, students at Cal. It amazes me how people see the world… and it works… It also always amazes me people stay friends with me, but man am I glad they do!!
Two Cal Legends – Mike Pawlawski and Joe Starkey! And some schmo
As I often say to the students who are my friends “I may be more than twice your age, but I have half your maturity so it all works out.” Never, ever get old… Don’t do it. When I go to a basketball game I would much rather sit in The Bench than in the good seats so you’ll frequently see this, where I’m clearing bringing up the average age of the section! Somehow, for some reason they keep letting me in.
It’s been a crazy Walter Mitty experience for me that let me do things, like talk to the football team, or lead the Cal band, that continues to astound me.
If you made it this far thanks for being a part of this with me. All of you have made the last 25 years absolutely amazing for me… I mean that… not to get all Lou Gehrig, but I really do consider myself the luckiest person to ever have attended this amazing university. And between you and me, I’m hoping the next 25 are just as amazing… I’d be remiss to leave you without one, last cheer… So… GIVE ME A C!!!!
Oh do I get grief for that. And for my obsession with the fist bump – the exploding fist bump! So I thought I would take a moment to share with you the genesis of that.
Yep, it’s 9/11, so time for my annual homage to my great friend Mark Bingham, who was taken from us entirely too early 14 years ago today. It would almost be impossible for any of you reading this, who likely know me, to not know of Mark Bingham. Mark was one of the heroes of United 93 who in a selfless last act of courage helped bring down the aircraft which experts believe had the US Capitol Building as its target.
Mark was one of my best friends. Now the great thing about Mark is you could probably ask 20 people and each of them would also say about him “Mark was one of my best friends,” such was the infectious, suck-the-marrow-out-of-the-bone approach to life and friends Mark lived. Back in 2001 I, along with Cal Rugby Coach Jack Clark and Cal Rugby Alum Jon Beck were interviewed for a story about Mark in the Daily Cal which you can read here.
One of the tough things about losing a great friend so young is you expect a certain arc in life. You selfishly expect to enjoy that person’s friendship and company, to experience the highs and lows, and that they will grow old with you and to share in all that life has to offer. When that’s taken from you, you feel a loss that’s more profound… and lonelier than you imagine it’s going to be.
I am sure you all have friends with whom you share some great memory that only you share. And at the simple drop of a word will make you laugh and connect. Mark and I had many of those but I think my favorite was bauble. Back in 1988, there was an SNL skit of the Winter Olympics with Tom Hanks playing a very gay ice skater; it was hilarious. At one point a very excited Dick Button is gushing about Hanks taming the ice when all of a sudden he goes stumbling because as Button exclaims “There’s a bauble!” So whenever Mark or I would trip or stumble we would both simultaneously say “BAUBLE!!!”
So back to the exploding fist bump – because it’s really not a fist bump without the explosion at the end! After 9/11, I made two commitments to myself to honor Mark’s memory; to let go of pettiness and to enjoy the hell out of life and make an impact. That first one, well let’s say I struggle with that one… I mean I try, but as anyone who has argued a point with me on Cal sports blog will attest, I fail at it. Too often. Like I said, I’m trying! Life is just too short to let pettiness dictate who we are or how we live.
But the exploding fist bump, often accompanied by a smile and a YOLO! That’s my sort of daily, physical reminder that life is supposed to be fun. It’s meant to be lived and enjoyed and laughed at and sung along to and danced with and devoured and experienced… Because I am telling you right now, not one of those victims on the planes or on the ground or in the Pentagon or the World Trade Center planned on dying that day. But they did. And no one plans on getting killed in a car accident, or finding out they have terminal cancer, or losing a loved one to some tragic accident today. But that will happen. To thousands of people.
So what do we do? We live, that’s what. If you’ve made it this far and will indulge me, I’d like to share with you advice that Robert Gordon Sproul, one of the great presidents of the University of California, gave to an audience in Berkeley. It’s really informed how I approach life and why I so often throw away my dignity in the moment!
If man’s brief stay on Earth may be compared to a splash on the sea of life, his circle of friends and associates is the ripple therewith set in motion. The larger the splash, the stronger the ripple tends to be and the farther and wider it will extend.
Some men profess indifference to the ripple they create, but modesty or blindness may be suspected in that. Few of us can turn existence into living without the inspiration and the help that comes from others. The more actively we live, the more important others become – for they are both audience and fellow actors. Among them must be sought a supporting cast for the role we dream of playing and the critics who will help us play it well. One cannot light a torch in a vacuum.
That’s sort of how I’ve approached life. I don’t know, maybe at the end it will have been a mistake, but I don’t think so. I jump into the water doing a great big cannon ball!!
That old photo up there of Mark and me… 17 years ago… seems impossible. Even though it’s an awful photo of me, I love it because what it represents. It’s taken at a restaurant in Chicago during a crazy summer weekend that all started with a phone call on a Friday from Mark: “Ken, let’s go to Chicago for the weekend,” and so we did. Got on a plane the next morning at 6AM… Went to a Cubs game. Had some great meals. Went to the museums. Went to some bars and stayed out entirely too late and were exhausted getting into the office fresh off our return flight on Monday morning. But man, what a weekend. And son-of-a-gun here I am today!
So that brings me back to the exploding fist bump. That simple little gesture is my tribute to Mark. It’s a reminder to not take life too seriously and to live my life to its fullest. So the next time I fist bump you – and insist you explode the fist with me – that’s why. And if it makes you smile – and even better laugh – despite yourself, then I’ve accomplished something that day. So today give me that fist bump, let’s see it explode and go ahead and say it…. YOLO!!!!
If you have your own great memory of Mark I’d love to hear it. And in honor of Mark, with all the hale and heartiness you can muster, GO BEARS!!!
Perfection. That’s about what any Cal fan will tell you Saturday was. (Be sure to read all the way through for a raucous Bear Territory – how YOU should be doing it!)
As I’ve bored you already (and will again I am sure), it was such and awesome honor to have Coach Dykes have me speak to the team last Sunday after practice. They are a FOCUSED group. One of the things I conveyed to them is their focus is shared by the fans and they should feed off that because something special is happening. There is a sense of excitement in the Caliverse and you hear it talking with fans, alumni, past players… This doesn’t happen a lot but there are times in life where you don’t even need retrospect, you can actually sense in the moment that you are at an inflection point. 1990 was one such year for Cal football. 2003 was another. And I believe 2015 (can it REALLY be 2015 all ready… how is that possible?) is definitely such a time.
And the proof? On the kind of spectacular Bay Area September Saturday that we all brag about and people visiting wonder “why aren’t we living here,” more than 60,000 people filled into Memorial Stadium. For a game against an FCS opponent… Truth be told, also for a chance to watch the world famous Grambling State Marching Band who was kind enough to bring along their football team for the game. And while the Grambling band lived up to expectations and then some, and their football team played gamely though over-matched, it was the Cal offensive juggernaut and the rejuvenated defense that had the fans in such high spirits. It was such a sense of good feeling that the Grambling State Marching Band received a standing ovation for their scintillating halftime show… and late in the game down 73-0, when Grambling finally scored, what was left of the crowd gave the visiting team a nice round of applause. I thought it was a terrifically gracious gesture, as if to say, way to hang in there and keep fighting (and we’ve been there before). It’s what college sports is supposed to be all about.
Speaking of what college sports is all about, a huge – HUGE – shout out to the students who filled the Student Section well before kickoff… THAT is what the team hopes for and NEEDS every week… We are ALL in this thing together… And while the “Bear Territory” got drowned out a little by the piped in music, you could see the players feeding off of you so make it happen again next week!! Also a massive “job well done” to everyone in Cal Marketing who worked their asses off to make that big crowd happen. These things don’t happen on accident and by themselves and as much as we’ve complained about some of the marketing in years passed, it’s great to see that group REALLY stepping up too…
I had a chance to talk with men’s basketball coach Cuonzo Martin during the game. His #WhyNotCal brings tears to my eyes because it’s so right – WHY NOT CAL!!!! A lot of us have been saying this for YEARS… We have the world’s greatest public University – arguably the greatest university, period – in the country’s fourth largest media market. We have tradition and pageantry that are second to none… and we have a fan base with the pent up anticipation of a 40 year old ve… well let’s just say we’re ready to EXPLODE! Yep, Cal fans have been thirsting for this mindset for years and finally we’ve got it in both Basketball (men’s AND women’s) and football! That of course in addition to all the Olympic sports and the mightiest of Cal sports, Rugby.
Others will dissect the game. All i know is this makes me very happy.
Finally, one last word about that Grambling State Marching Band… SENSATIONAL! As I mentioned their halftime show was amazing, and man do they know show business and how to play to a crowd because the finished with California Love and as on cue, the Cal crowd showered them with California love with a standing ovation… That is the first time I have ever seen that for a visiting band – at ANY school.
After the game both bands performed a 5th quarter show for about 7,000 fans who stayed, and were all glad they did. While both bands performed well, there is little doubt it was Grambling State who stole the show.
After receiving a huge ovation the students in the band all waved back to the crowd. I have to think as they get home, game results aside, they’re going to tell their friends and family and anyone who will listen, what a great time they had in Berkeley. In my book, that’s a pretty great thing to be a part of.
And of course the only fitting way to end is with Daniel Lasco leading a resounding version of BEAR TERRITORY! If you made it all this way, thanks much for reading! GO BEARS!!!
Cal fans, this is it! The season is here and if you’re anything like me you are exploding with excitement…
I was lucky to get to address the team after their practice last Sunday. Click on the video at the top. The thrust of the talk is that every once in a while – and they don’t happen often – you reach an inflection point in life where you can make the future happen NOW. But you have to be willing to both recognize it and then to go for it. It’s called grabbing the brass ring.
Too often in the past, for whatever reason, Cal has not grabbed the brass ring. I feel this team is ready to do it. From our reinvigorated defense with among others Stefan McClure, Mike Barton and Jalen Jefferson, to our reconstituted offensive line, and of course the many play makers on offense with Goff, Lawler, Treggs, Lasco and everyone else….When I talk to players on this team just in general, I get these sense they know this season can be special. But when I talked with them as a group on Sunday, I could see in their eyes that they KNOW the future is about them. Their concentration while I was talking was intense, and as you see at the end, when i told them they couldn’t sing a song or do a cheer sitting down, up with GUSTO they got to their feet and you see what they did.
And then the Coaches… I’m loving these guys… Sonny is having the players connect with the Cal community in a way we have not seen in years. The players sing the fight song with fans after games! It’s there in the locker room for them to see everyday and I know they are READY to sing it with us tomorrow!
The last time I saw this was in 1990 and 1991… That 1991 team by the way remains the last team to win a bowl game on New Years Day and is the highest ranking team of the last 8 decades. I told these guys, and I believe it, that can be better!
A lot of Cal fans get weighed down in history… I told this team that history is not ON their back it is AT their back… There are decades of Cal fans, you can hear the echos in the corners of the stadium, that every play are at the players’ back. When they’re on a goal line stand, it’s those Cal fans that have got their back… on a deep pass play it’s that Cal history that will be at their back to get them just a little farther and faster down the field… As fans, as a program and as the embodiment of the spirit of Cal we can’t be on their back, collectively we will be at their back. They will feel this.
So here is a call out to ALL CAL FANS!!! Especially Students… We are going to bring back an old tradition… We are going to let every foe that comes into Memorial KNOW that they are in Bear Territory!! So when the team takes the field for kickoff, they want – NO THEY EXPECT – to hear all of us chanting Bear Territory. The Micmen will start and we want to hear it LOUD and with AUTHORITY.
I have exactly zero doubt this team can have a phenomenal year. 12-0 is what I am thinking. But it has to be one game at a time and it all starts this Saturday! ARE YOU IN WITH ME? DO YOU BELIEVE!!!
[ PLEASE CLICK ON THE FACEBOOK LINK AT THE BOTTOM TO SHARE SO WE CAN GET THE WORD OUT ABOUT BEAR TERRITORY ]
It’s time to kick-off this humble blog for another year… I’m going to get into all the game and spirit stuff in later blogs because i think this is going to be an amazing inflection year for Cal… but today I want to talk mainly to the women about a really cool event that’s been going on in one form or another for about 12 years, Pigskins and Pearls, previously known as The Women’s Huddle… In the last two years the event has raised $30,000 for the Boys and Girls Club of Oakland! Thirty-thousand-dollars! Now listen, I’ve heard from some of you that for various reasons you don’t like the name of the event, and prefer Women’s Huddle… I get it… and you know what, Kate Dykes gets it… I was talking with Kate this week and she’s totally open to changing the name, it’s just that for this year everything was set in motion for Pigskins and Pearls (it’s something she’s done for a while) so do me a favor and just for this year get over that…
I gotta tell… I really like Kate… she is more involved in the community than I can remember any spouse of any sport in recent memory being…For me the first sign was when she and Sonny decided to locate the family on the WEST SIDE of the Caldecott Tunnel (no offense, of course, to my friends in Orinda or Lafayette or Walnut Creek or Danville… full offense intended to those living in Moraga!). It’s a small thing, but I think it sends a great signal.
So about Pigskins and Peals, in the last two years, this event has raised more than $30,000 for the Boys and Girls Club of Oakland… Read that again… $30,000!!!! That is pretty awesome and all the women who have attended the event at Memorial can be proud of themselves for helping to support such a great organization… One that a certain Beast Mode has said made a huge impact in his life.
Kate and I recently got together and I thought you’d be interested in her thoughts about Cal, Berkeley, football and most important, ICE CREAM, PIZZA and TOP DOG!!! Although I didn’t “interview her” i thought it would be easiest to present it that way. Kate had just got back from a cross-country drive from Texas, with a pit-stop in Disneyland and this is the first thing she told me “True story, On our road trip home, my girls saw a guy with a UCLA shirt on and said ” oh, (with a punch of potty in her voice) he has to go the that other school!” We have trained them well.” I don’t know about you but I love when the coach’s young daughters talk smack about UCLA (or USC or Standford or….)
FiatLux: I know that a lot of Cal fans appreciate that the coaches and families are such a part of the community – including living by Campus. What it’s been like for you and the girls?
Kate: The transition has been much easier than I had anticipated. The Cal community – professors, staff, fans, students, former athletes and more – has constantly reached out to our family and helped our move become much smoother than normal. We are a very active family and try to take advantage of all the Bay Area has to offer! There should be no complaints when you live somewhere as wonderful as the Bay Area!
FiatLux: How did you get involved with the Boys and Girls club of Oakland?
Kate: Sonny and I have both been huge advocates for any local Boys & Girls Clubs along our journey. They give unconditionally to the youth of our area that are in such need. We were both members as kids and believe in what they stand for. It is our pleasure and honor to do this event in their honor.
FiatLux : Let’s talk about this event… All the women I know love hanging out with the guys on the team… What can they expect his year?
Kate: This event is solely to give all the incredible Cal women an opportunity to be around our program, players, staff and to raise money for a very deserving Charity. I love that the women get to meet so many of the young men who represent the school… they’re great kids. It is a very exciting event for me, as I love meeting all the women who love sports as much as I do! These women are fun… and they are LOUD at games… I want their husbands or boyfriends or partners or kids to be as loud as they are! I mean, if every fan brought the passion that people like Ellen Abbetecola, Linda Cogozzo and Diana George bring, Memorial would be even louder than it already is! This will be the 6th consecutive year for our clinics and all 6 years we have given to the Boys & Girls Club!
FiatLux: College football in the Bay Area is very different than it is in Texas or the South… We think it’s better, nothing beats Strawberry Canyon after all… What’s it been like for you?
Kate:It is very different, and that’s a good thing! I appreciate that our fans are there every game wearing their Blue and Gold with pride. It’s been a tough few years before we got here and it’s great to see how much they believe in their school and want the best for the programs of Cal. The stadium is stunning and the weather is incredible!! Trust me, I am more than happy to miss the 100 Degree games in September!
FiatLux: What’s your favorite tradition you’ve experienced at Cal?
Kate: Without a doubt The Big Game Bonfire Rally is my favorite. It encompasses everything I love about college football. Rivalry, tradition, passion and school spirit! (And of course you as the Emcee!). Sonny’s dad was here last year for it and he said it’s as good or better as anything he’s seen in Texas. To see the Greek just packed – all the way up the hillside – with Cal fans means more to the players and coaches than you can imagine.
FiatLux: OK, now we get into the important stuff… favorite item at Fenton’s?
Kate: Chocolate cookie dough, hands down. I will say the girls love mint chocolate chip. I hear that you challenge everyone to a Banana Special… we’ll definitely take you up on that.
FiatLux: Careful here… Blondies or Fat Slice?
Kate: Fat Slice (At this point I hang my head, just a bit….)
FiatLux; Now be REALLY careful…. your favorite Top Dog?
Kate: I love the hot link, but I also love the chicken Apple sausage
FiatLux: We know Stanford would top the list, but who annoys you more, UCLA or USC?
Kate: Is it OK for me to say both?! Should we even mention them….clearly we are the BEST California school! Go Bears!
Fiatlux: That was actually a trick question and you answered it perfectly!
Kate: I really want to make sure this comes across… I want to thank all the Cal fans for their support… I remember our first game against Northwestern in Memorial and we knew we had found home. It was simply breathtaking and the energy of the crowd was amazing. The student section is hands down the best in the country… We love watching you all game… I’d love to come join you and stand but I’m afraid my student days are a bit in the past! Hey, we do have one request – can you all get there on time before kickoff… the players appreciate that so much, coming out of the tunnel to see the student section filled… I’ll work on getting the alumni in their seats too! But the students are simply amazing… and what can i say about the band… the absolute best… Last year all of you were great… When we played Northwestern in Chicago, we could not believe how many Cal fans were there, it really did feel like Bear Territory (by the way we LOVE LOVE LOVE that cheer!). We can’t wait to see you all again in Texas!
So there you go Cal fans… pretty awesome if you ask me. Don’t forget, you can click here to sign up for the event.… This is happening right after the main event on Saturday so let’s see if we can get a huge turnout for the team.
OH MY GOD! You realize we’re under three week ’til KICK OFF!!!!
YES!!! Cal Football 2014 was WILDLY ENTERTAINING! Let’s put a few things in perspective… Last year our Cal Bears were 1-11. We were blown out by historic margins in all but 2 games. But through it all, game after game, blowout after blowout, I stayed through to the end.
Staying til the end against Oregon State
This year that all changed. Cal quintupled its win total over last year. The games were competitive. The games were FUN. So you’ll forgive me for not moping over the loss on Saturday and instead being excited about what happened this year!!
You know, I realize I can be the most annoying positive person on the planet. I just hate wallowing in misery and defeat (and I’ve experience plenty). It’s just how I get through life, seems to work for me but certainly not you have to do it. So leaving Memorial Stadium on Saturday afternoon, like everyone I was disappointed in the loss. But I certainly wasn’t disappointed in the season. And I wasn’t upset and I wasn’t disappointed for me. I was disappointed for the players and the coaches. I’ve seen how much they have embraced the Cal community. So I just want to share my thoughts on why I loved this season so much and why I am so excited for next year.
I’ve seen how incredibly accessible these coaches are (and their families) to the fans. I would find it hard to believe there is another coaching staff in American who is as interactive with the fans and community as this staff is. Heck even their wives – if you go to the game and you’re sitting by her, be prepared for Kate Dykes to come over and high five after every great play!
For instance, Offensive Line Coach Zach Yenser and his awesome wife Beth were nice enough to invite me (a Thanksgiving orphan) over to dinner for Thanksgiving. Beth and Zach and his folks, sister and brother-in-law provided one of the nicest Thanksgivings possible (and son Graham provided the entertainment!). And here’s the thing.
They’re all southerners. And you know what they all said – THEY LOVE CALIFORNIA. They said that the Student Section for the Big Game was better than any student section in the SEC.
And they’re not alone. Heck several of the coaches live within walking distance of Memorial Stadium including famously Tony Franklin who has a loft in downtown Berkeley. They have welcomed back former players. They have our current players singing the fight song after game – when do you remember that happening? The classroom performance is on its way up. We have players who you should be proud are at Cal.
Going into the season, after what can only be described as a brutal 2013 campaign, fans were almost uniformly of the same belief; we wanted to see 3 or 4 wins, a win over a traditional rival would be nice, and we wanted to see the team be competitive. Well you know what, we got two of the three. Cal was in just about EVERY game. 3 of our losses were one possession losses, including a Hail Mary. We fought back HARD against USC. We held our own against Oregon (look at how other teams not named Arizona did). We were two awful official calls at the end of the game away from beating UCLA.
These last 5 mins really have been #Pac12Refs in all their glory.
That last point can’t be glossed over. After last year (with the exception of the Northwestern game), and 2012, and even 2011 (even though we had more wins) and 2010 it had been a while since Cal games were fun. Honestly, think back to those years and just how not enjoyable the games were. Sure we won some games, but even then they never felt fun. Did ANYBODY have fun at the Holiday Bowl against Texas? Something was wrong. Well this year, almost every game was fun.
This year started off beating beating Northwestern in Chicago with about 5K Cal fans in attendance!
And as the game came to an end the players did something no one expected… they joined the crowd in singing Fight. Every fan there got goose bumps on that!
Heck I was even in Tucson for the Hail Mary loss, but there’s no denying that was a FUN game and even managed to lead a few cheers without pulling anything or breaking a hip !(hey once a micman always a micman!)
I was up in Corvallis for the win!
I was at SC for the loss, but was so proud of how we fought back and was great to see old friends and meet new ones!
So I guess I ask, WERE WE NOT ENTERTAINED!!!
Cal football is amazing. It’s a chance for all of us to come together and reunite with old friends and meet new ones as we support this most amazing of institutions!
Once again Cal fans came out in force for the Big Game bonfire rally! And here’s something cool – Spike Dykes, Coach Dyke’s dad told me “This is as a good as anything we have in Texas!”
So with all that’s happened this year, I wondered, why were people so unhappy after Saturday’s loss. And looking at this post it dawned on my, by going to Northwestern and Oregon State, I got to experience two more wins than a lot of people who weren’t able to travel with team. And by going to Tucson and SC i got two more losses ;-) But they were fun. Sure, there’s the absolutely understandable revised expectations. We started out 4-1 and suddenly a bowl seemed not only reasonable, but possible. That of course didn’t take into account our season was incredibly front loaded in terms of winnable games.
But man, this is the time to show our mettle. Second guessing is totally understandable, and I do it. Coaches don’t care and I’m sure they do it themselves. And I wouldn’t for a second invalidate your feelings of disappointment. This is when we get to show the great fans we are – and we are great fans. So as we get some time to reflect on this season, instead of proverbially stomping our feet and issuing ultimatums , how about doing something else. Spending that time THANKING THE TEAM for making football fun again and reminding why we love Cal Football. #GOBEARS!!!
Don’t forget we’ve got Goff coming back as a junior. And all those receivers. And Lasco. And most of the Oline. And the defense will have another year under its belt. And so will the coaches! I am EXCITED about 2015!
As always if you like this please feel free to share. And if you don’t like it feel free to share how stupid it is!