A First-Timer's Football Guide

Sept. 27, 2006

By Justin Chartrey
The Daily

SEATTLE -- Going to a Husky football game for the first time as a student is an experience not soon forgotten. Just being there a fan has the opportunity to sponge up the sights, sounds and even the smells of one of college football's most historic stadiums. However, you cannot truly appreciate the nuances of a Husky football game without spending one sitting somewhere between sections 23 and 29 along with hundreds of other excited Dawg Pack students.

There is no shortage of activities and if you do it right, a football game can be a day-long event.

Before the gates open, there are great options for young Husky fans. Get down to the E-1 parking lot as soon as possible because hundreds of fans will already be camped out, tailgating from early morning until late at night.

Don't worry if it's not possible to be one of the Tyee Donors who get the prime real estate because there is plenty of space and plenty of team spirit to go around.

Many of the Husky tailgaters are not bashful and will offer food or drink to wandering fans, so get your fill because barbequed hot dogs and burgers taste a lot better while swapping stories with other sports enthusiasts.

After checking out the tailgating scene, it's a good idea to get into the stadium 45 minutes to an hour before kickoff in order to get a good seat. The benches are not very comfortable, but do not fear because once the game starts, no one sits. Ever.

Your first time inside the stadium, take in all the visual delights. The best physical feature is the open end of the stadium, where it is possible to see all the mountains in the distance, the full expanses of Lake Washington and hundreds of yachts floating just off shore during the game.

At the entrance to the student section, be ready with ticket and student ID in hand and something purple on your back.

Rule number one: Real Dawgs wear purple.

Game Time
Perhaps the greatest tradition at Husky Stadium is the hand crank siren, a sound frequently associated with home games on Montlake, which goes off when the players exit the tunnel and run onto the field. That is when the real noise starts, and for the students it marks the beginning of 60 long minutes of standing and cheering.

Before the opening kickoff is a unique unfurling of Old Glory in which the band takes formation as a flagpole. Select band members run along side and then stretch out a huge American flag. The band plays the National Anthem as the flag holders start moving it in a waving motion. Then it's serious business as the players take the field.

During Play
There are several things to watch for during the four quarters of football on the field down below. On kickoffs the band begins a beat that is quickly picked up by the students, who will start to do a version of the 'Atlanta Brave Chop' until the foot of the kicker makes contact with the pigskin.

Also, be aware that there is a difference in noise when the Husky offense is on the field and when the defense lines up.

On offense, cheer on first downs and by all means go absolutely nuts when the Huskies punch it in for points (touchdown or field goal, it doesn't matter), but during the snap the offensive line and quarterback appreciate silence.

And on those occasions when the Huskies reach the end zone, keep your eyes peeled for flying purple shirts. On every touchdown at least 10 free shirts will be hurled up at the students.

Defense, on the other hand, is a different animal entirely.

The defensive players want the fans to get loud, and they count on crowd noise to make life miserable for visiting offenses.

'You have to love the fans at Washington,' junior defensive end Greyson Gunheim said. 'They get us riled up. We try to make plays so they get loud and rattle the offense. The fans play a big part in any game.'

Indeed, one thing any bleacher rookie will learn in a hurry is that no one inside the confines of the stadium is a third-party observer.

At halftime comes rest for the weary and a chance to recharge your energy for the second half, as well as a chance to catch a halftime show from the band. That show will undoubtedly include a performance from Washington's baton girl. Her name is Amy Galbraith and for four years she has been putting on a show for the crowd, even achieving national rankings.

Then come 30 more minutes of action, and don't you dare leave until the final horn blows.

Post Game
Win or lose, it's back out to the parking lot for more tailgating, though fans are more apt to share after a win to boost the spirits. If you are looking for something more relaxed, head to The Ram in U. Village for some serious food and drink and a great atmosphere for watching more football.

College football can be very exciting and is always a good time for those lucky enough to watch it from the Dawg Pack. So if you have tickets, do not miss a game, and if you don't have them, get online and get them now. It is definitely one experience a student at the UW should never miss.

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