Their Hearts Are In Autzen
The following is a small sampling of the stories behind some of the cutouts featured in the stands at Autzen Stadium for football games this fall.
My cutout represents how big of an Oregon Ducks football fan I am. Since I am not able to cheer on the Ducks in person, I am so excited to 'be' in Autzen this season! Go Ducks!
As a kid, playing for the Ducks was the ultimate goal. Everything changed in 2009, when I was 11. I was diagnosed with Friedreich's Ataxia (FA). According to curefa.org, "FA is a debilitating, life-shortening, degenerative neuro-muscular disorder. About 1 in 50,000 people in the U.S. have FA."
Year by year, my body is progressing. I am in a wheelchair full time now, my speech is slurred, etc. My goal has changed from playing at Oregon to now wanting to be a Duck in any way possible. I'm so excited to be in Autzen this year!
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
I watched my first Ducks game on National TV in 2008 and since that day, I have become a huge fan of the team. In 2019, I finally had the chance to travel from Montréal to Eugene to watch my first ever Ducks game. What made it most magical is that I had the chance to watch it with my wife, my brother, my best friend and, most importantly, my 2 months old son. I hope to have the chance to come back for another game at the Autzen Stadium one day.
Montréal, Quebec, Canada
2020 was supposed to be the biggest year of Danh's life. Right now, he should be watching Duck Football as a newlywed, smoking a brisket in his new home, until the pandemic robbed him of all of these things and so much more. He was in the midst of planning his wedding to his fiancé, Jessica, in August until they ultimately had to postpone until next year, and they were days from closing on their first home when he unexpectedly lost his battle with Covid-19.
Myself, along with Danh's many friends & family weren't able to celebrate these big milestones with him, and devastatingly were only able to attend his celebration of life over a video from our living rooms. Because Danh was robbed of so many things this year, down to the large funeral that would have amassed hundreds of his friends and family, it is so important to us to honor Danh wherever we can.
Danh bled Green & Yellow, he never missed a game, or a chance to play Miley Cyrus "Party in the USA" after every touchdown. There is no better way that we could think of than to fill the stands with cutouts of Danh. We want to see Danh's smiling face looking back at us in the stands when we tune in to watch our Ducks play. We know he will be there watching right along with us, and we want everyone else to know it too.
The cutout I purchased is of my son, Bennett Walters. He became a Ducks fan before he ever stepped foot in Oregon. Since we was a very little boy, Bennett has been a student of football. He loves to play the sport too, but because of injuries (broken leg, concussion) he is no longer able to play. However, anyone who knows or meets him quickly realizes he is the biggest Ducks fan (football, especially, but all sports) they have ever met.
When he was 9 years old I took him to Eugene to attend his first game at Autzen Stadium. We were so fortunate to meet the whole team including Coach Chip Kelly, QB Marcus Mariota, and Puddles! ESPN was there hosting Game Day and we won. What we remember most was that the stadium was literally vibrating – we felt right at home with these insanely passionate fans.
Bennett is not a bandwagon fan – he wears his gear with pride, cheers on all teams, and has gotten many of his friends to become fans too regardless of their ranking or performance. When they win, he loses his mind. It's fun to watch.
Thanks for providing a fun opportunity for me to continue bonding with my teenage son through our love for the Ducks!
To the best of our recollection, our cutout photo was taken 5 years ago, the day before our 12th wedding anniversary at Autzen.
It was a beautiful day in Eugene as we walked around the outside of Autzen partaking in all the festivities, such as the annual flu shot at the Safeway stand; playing cornhole at the Pringles stand to receive our lime green rally towel; and taking the photo at the Sports Illustrated Photo Booth. That brings a smile to our faces every time we see it!
Although, that day did not end in VICTORY, we still have very fond memories of this day as we celebrated each other and cheering our Ducks!
We feel very fortunate to have participated in last year's Pac-12 Championship and 2020 Rose Bowl games. We wish the Team and Staff all the best for a great year and hope everyone stays safe and healthy. Know that we will be cheering OREGON onto Victory!
Sherry and Mike Hames
I don't really have an amazing, special or heartfelt story behind my cutout per se, other than what Oregon Football means to me and why it means so much.
I grew up in the suburbs of Los Angeles and never fit in. I didn't have friends in junior high or high school and was bullied. When I arrived in Eugene in the fall of 1993 I immediately fell in love with the campus and the entire Oregon environment.
I do not recall the exact date of my first game unfortunately, but I remember being in the student section right next to the OMB. It was a sunny day and I had yet to learn all the traditions — like "Stick It In," "Shout," & GO from one side and DUCKS from the other side — but as each occurred during that game, as I stood surrounded by people I didn't know, I remember distinctly feeling for the very first time in my life that I finally belonged. I knew I was home. As loud as Autzen is, when that moment happened I couldn't hear a sound except my own relief knowing I was right where I was meant to be.
In the 21 years since I left Oregon for Maryland (not my best choice but here I am) my passion and obsession for Oregon Football keeps me tethered to that feeling of belonging to something that is bigger than me but also accepted me.
I try to make it back every year for a game. I wasn't able to come in 2019 and had been planning on 2020, so knowing my cutout will be there gives me great joy.
I was at The Pick, I was there when Oregon beat Michigan, I was there in 2018 when we beat Washington. I have been to countless games, wins and losses, and yet the feeling of overwhelming love between friends and strangers, all wearing green or yellow, remains unchanged. The walk over the footbridge when Autzen first comes into view is breathtaking no matter how many times I make the journey. The walk back, while different pending on the game outcome, is still peaceful because I am surrounded by strangers, some who are friends I just haven't met yet, but we have the love of the Ducks in common.
I will always be in debt for what the University of Oregon gave me and being an unconditional fan for the team, coaches, staff and program that I love, is the very least I could do to give back.
I plan to make it out in 2021 if possible and hope to see you as I normally do!
Until then, Go Ducks!
I can't wait to see all those smiling faces in the crowd on Saturday.
I felt compelled to include my brother and his son because he was a Duck through and through. Unfortunately Ryan was lost in a tragic snowboarding accident early in 2020, leaving behind his now 3 year old son. Ryan relished those fall afternoons sitting on the couch with his son teaching him the finer points of Duck fandom. Green good, Orange and purple bad.
We had plans to take Judah to his first Duck game this season so he could meet "The Duck" and experience all the wonderful sights and sounds Autzen has to offer. Oh, and popcorn — lots and lots of popcorn. Obviously that will not be possible, but I'm glad I could get them in the stadium together somehow.
Thanks again for making this possible,
I am an Ohio resident and I fell in love with the ducks at an early age. My first jersey I purchased was a Dennis Dixon jersey and I soon became obsessed with the University of Oregon.
Me and my wife spent our one-year wedding anniversary at our first duck game Sept. 9, 2017, and will never forget that trip. So happy I got to watch guys like Justin Herbert! This goes to show Duck fans are country wide!
Thank you guys,
We submitted 3 pictures of our dogs over the last 10 years. Friendliest dogs you will ever meet. Great at dog park.
With one exception. None cared much for Huskies. I don't know if they picked up my dislike but growling and hair on end whenever we ran into Huskies. It probably did not help when they heard a "good dog" from me :)
My sister Christine is the Ultimate Duck fan. There is nothing that brings Christine more joy than Oregon Football & Basketball. She has attended football games for years and if she's not at the game she is hosting a crowd of people at her home to watch the game.
Christine had always dreamed of getting a picture with THE DUCK, but could never make it happen. I encouraged her to purchase tickets to the 2019 regional women's basketball game. It would be a smaller venue and could give her a better chance at the photo opp. She was lucky enough to score one ticket and attended the championship game alone. Not only did she get a picture with the Oregon DUCK, but Sabrina was gracious enough to take a selfie with her too.
Four of us had purchased tickets to attend the 2020 regional WBB tournament in Portland. Christine was so excited to host her family and had a perfect trip planned for us. Well I don't have to tell you what happened next. The COVID SHUTDOWN. We were all disappointed.
The pandemic has hit Christine hard. Due to her underlyng health conditions she was not able to see her kids or grandkids, she was unable to travel to the east coast for a family event and then in September Christine found herself loading up her car and preparing for evacuation as the Oregon fires came within miles of her home. The fire was Christine's breaking point. She has had enough.
I wanted to do sometime special for her and this fan cutout was the perfect gift. I have yet to tell her about the fan cutout as it is a surprise. She is so excited about next week's game and having her cutout in the stadium is the perfect pick-me-up that she needs.
My grandma, Marty McHugh, hasn't missed a Duck home game in 30+ years. She and my grandpa would go with their seven kids, including my dad, and then eventually with us grandkids. And even the great grand kids. She'd make chicken and we'd all tailgate for hours.
When my grandpa died a couple years ago, she took over game day duties. (Also, his brother was Ducks hall of gamer Phil McHugh, who also recently passed away.) All through Covid, my grandma has wondered what we'll do when the season comes, and I hated the idea that at 92, she'd miss these games.
Today, I'm surprising her with her cutout, and I can't wait for her to see it in the stands! Go Ducks!