Author: Sydney Mundell
Growing up in Oklahoma, going to Oklahoma University football games has always been a tradition my family shared each season. During football season weekends were generally busy. You would go to the high school games on Friday night then turn around and wake up early on Saturday to make the drive to Norman to watch our Sooners play. My family lived in Lawton, which is about an hour and a half to the west of OU's campus. I started going to Oklahoma football games when I was just six months old. My parents were able to get season tickets and for almost 16 years I spent every Saturday that the Sooners were playing in the Palace on the Prairie in Norman, Oklahoma watching history being made.
When I think back to my time spent at Gaylord Family - Oklahoma Memorial stadium I can't help but to think how hot some of those games were. Games that were played in the dead heat of the afternoon could reach temperatures of 110 degrees and they were killers, but often times it was the events that led up to the game that made gameday so special.
It always started with getting up to and driving to Norman a few hours before game time. We had to park roughly a mile away from the stadium but that walk to main street and campus corner was probably the best place to fully experience OU gameday. Every so often you hear someone yelling "BOOMER" and of course you have to yell back "SOONER". And let me tell you if you didn't respond with "SOONER" you cannot be considered an OU fan because that is sacrilege. It's up there with saying you like Texas.
We would eventually get to the student union and that is where campus is bumpin' on gameday besides tailgate areas. There would always be this lady outside the student union yelling “Pizza! Come get hot pizza!” so what did I always do? I got pizza! Wendy’s was always another good option because their chicken nuggets are amazing. We normally ate inside if it was too hot or cold outside. Regardless of the weather typically my dad saw someone that he knew every two seconds and he had to talk to them for about 10 minutes while we stood there in the elements.
The percussion ensemble would put on a little concert right outside the student union. We normally watched that for about 30 minutes and when that was over it was time to go watch the band practice. Anybody that has gone to a college football game knows that a good band can drive the atmosphere of the stadium The band of OU is important to every OU fan because, well, they are the Pride of Oklahoma. We wanted to hear the fight song as many times as possible and even after hearing it thousands of times it never gets old.
Once the band finished practicing, we would get in position. Any OU fan that has been to a home football game knows what I am talking about. Thousands of OU fans would march along with the band down the sidewalks until we reach the stadium and then we have to get in. It did not matter if you were 3-years-old or 60-years-old, this is the most electric thing in the world to do.
My family sat at the top of the stadium, so it was a hike to get up there but somehow we always did it. Once we got up to our seats we were able to see everything. Pregame events are some of the most memorable events of gameday and they really set the tone moving forward. We stood up for the national anthem and the entire stadium sings it and of course fighter jets would eventually be flying above us. I don’t think it is a surprise to anyone when I say that instead of “home of the brave” we say “home of the sooners”. Then we sang the Oklahoma Chant. Any Oklahoma fan knows that you stick your right arm up in the air with your index finger pointing to the sky and everyone goes dead silent. Then 80,000 people start singing ”O-K-L-A-H-O-M-A, Our chant rolls on and on, thousands strong, join heart and song, through alma mater’s praise, of campus beautiful by day and night, of colors proudly streaming red and white, ‘neath a western sky, OU’s chant will never die, Live on university!”. This is the best part of the entire game, it is so humbling and if there is anything I miss about going to OU football games it is that one thing.
It gives you a sense of pride and honor. There is nothing like sitting in that football stadium underneath the beautiful Oklahoma sky and I wouldn’t trade those memories for the world. The thing I miss most about going to the game is how accepting OU fans are. We don’t boo when the other team comes out and many fans welcome them into our home. Our fight song says “I’m a sooner born and I’m sooner bred and when I die, I’ll be sooner dead”. I am a diehard Oklahoma University football fan, along with my family and several friends, and I will forever be a Sooner.
I have memories of going to family friend’s houses to watch the away games and having a big cookout. I have memories of sweating because of the outrageous 110 degree heat and I have memories of being so cold I had 4 layers of clothes on and blankets covering me up, but again, I would not trade those memories for the world.
OU is filled with historic players and coaches and that makes being a fan that much more enjoyable. I have seen Barry Switzer and Bob Stoops as well as watched some of the best players play (including Baker Mayfield and Ceedee Lamb) and I have witnessed history being made on the Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.
Nothing comes close to my experience sitting in those seats at the top of the stadium while watching football and watching the sun go down under the western plains of Oklahoma. I am so thankful that I was able to grow up around gameday's in Norman, Oklahoma.