Sep 12 / jmusport

Presenting Our First Guest Post of the Season

Amy Cobb predicted the exact score of last week’s game and won the chance to guest post. Here’s her terrific piece about how much JMU has evolved since her time on campus.

JMU: You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby!

Well here I go. My 15 minutes of (JMU Sports Blog) fame. First of all, let me just say this was beginner’s luck because I’ve never even participated in the prediction contest before. Why? Because I usually stink at these things. But participate I did, and won at that. And predicted the EXACT score, which the JMUSB guys say has never happened (really? Go me!) Second, I did actually think about my prediction for more than five seconds. After watching the WVU game, I figured we were good for five touchdowns and three field goals (yeah, not gonna talk about the red zone offense). I nailed it! I’d like to thank Virginia Beach’s own Cole Johnson for that last touchdown! And the defense for being, well, amazing as usual (I NEED to see some interceptions though. Channel your ‘inner Jimmy,’ please!)

I’m not going to write much about football other than to say I’ve been a huge football fan since I was at least eight or nine years old. I can identify pass interference when I see it (hello? CAA refs?) but I still can’t figure out what holding is, much less what targeting is – it’s not shopping at Target? Oh…(kidding!) I remember wearing my #9 Sonny Jurgensen hoodie when I was younger and cheering for the ‘Skins. And though the ‘Skins haven’t given me much to cheer about since, well, Dan (“I miss Jack Kent Cooke”) Snyder, I’m happy to cheer on one ‘Skin and former Duke, Jimmy Moreland, my new favorite pro player (sorry, Gary Clark). As a PR and marketing professional, I recognize the good PR that Jimmy has gotten and consequently, what that has also done for JMU. The free publicity is invaluable! I loved hearing Joe Theismann sing Jimmy’s (and JMU’s) praises during the pre-season and the announcers continuing that in the first regular season game. I hope that continues. Go #32 and go Dukes!

What I do want to write about is how far JMU has come since I graduated in 1987 (if you’re doing the math, yes I’m a 50-something). I jokingly say I attended JMU before JMU was ‘cool.’ I was one of four from my small graduating class of Franklin High School to choose JMU. It was the best decision I ever made. At the time there were about 10,000 students at JMU; I called it my “Goldilocks school”: not too big, not too small. (I still don’t understand when I hear JMU called a “small school” now – just HOW BIG does it have to be nowadays??) You could walk around and get lost in the crowd OR you could see everyone you knew in one day! For you recent grads or current Dukes, here’s what it was like back then:

  • All that stuff on the other side of I-81? Didn’t exist, other than the Convocation Center (which was pretty new then). But we went over there (through the cow tunnel, mooing the whole way!) because back then, basketball was king. Who remembers The Electric Zoo? That place was rockin’ – as were the stands, literally. And we lived to tell about it! 
  • Football games were okay – I remember the team being “average” (not great, not bad). Games were nothing like they are now, and that’s a good thing! Tailgating at a football game? Didn’t happen. (If it did, it must’ve been nowhere near the stadium or the now extinct Godwin Field.) Sing the fight song? Did we have a fight song?? I am ashamed to say I don’t think any of us knew the words to it. It certainly wasn’t printed for us upside down on a shirt (which I think is very clever, by the way).
  • The bluestone dorms on the upper campus? Hard to get into as an underclassman. They weren’t designated by your major. My junior year, Gifford was all male. It went co-ed my senior year, yet I think there were more females there my junior year. And oh the lofts we had!! I lived in Wayland my sophomore year and we seriously had a whole second floor in our room and a living room with a couch, etc. underneath. Fire hazard or not, the lofts were cool! Oh and there was a HoJo’s (Howard Johnson’s) motel at the corner of Port Republic and I-81 that served as my dorm freshman year. Best part of that was being able to have a car even though I couldn’t park it on campus.
  • Incoming freshmen – we didn’t have a parade or an orientation where they taught us what to do at football games, nor did we get to run on the field for the first football game. We did have an orientation earlier in the summer where they taught us not to say “Gibbons Dining Hall” and educated us on all the  other un-cool things to do or say.
  • The campus – always was beautiful, and still is. The statue of James Madison wasn’t there though. I’ve always loved that JMU feels like a real college campus, unlike some of the urban campuses I’ve seen.
  • Registration – this is where I’m going to sound like your grandpa who had to walk five miles uphill each way to school, in the snow. We actually had to STAND IN LINE. You read that right. You stood in line at the Library to register for classes, after looking through pages upon pages of class info in teeny tiny print (I think that’s why I need readers now. Okay, maybe not.) At the end of my freshman year I left registration in tears because I had to go beg professors for overrides. Not fun. I think the year after I graduated they started doing phone registration. I was so jealous. 
  • The food. It was so good! (I hear it still is, thank goodness.) I remember chocolate covered Krispy Kremes for breakfast at D-Hall and lobster night. I would LOVE to get the recipe for the cream of potato soup (Anyone? Anyone?) at Salads Plus, which started in Chandler and later moved to the top floor of the Student Union, and doubled as the Steakhouse at night. Yes, we had a steakhouse – does that still exist? PC Dukes was brand new, too. 
  • Uncle Ron – you would often see President Ronald Carrier walking around campus talking to students. Who can forget what he did for JMU and the surrounding area? He’s a legend in my book! 
  • Snow. Lots and lots of snow. And cold. (This is probably still the case!) As a coastal Virginia girl, that was an adjustment. I remember Super Bowl Sunday of my sophomore year and it was something like 20 below outside. Walked to D-Hall with my roommate whose hair was still wet, and it froze! It was also the first time I ever experienced nose hair freezing. Freaky! My senior year it snowed a foot in January. Then another foot four days later. At the time, I think it was the first time the school had ever cancelled classes (I have The Breeze article in my yellowed photo album to prove it). Nothing like seeing all those kegs rolling across the Quad! (Yes, most of us were legal drinking age).
  • Legal drinking age – it was 18 for beer, then 19, and I grandfathered my way through my college life. This was back before social media captured every stupid thing we did (thank goodness!). I won’t go any further with this. 
  • And let’s just talk about JM’s, which used to be right across from campus (near Converse). I don’t even know what the building is now but JM’s was THE PLACE to be. Maybe because it was the ONLY bar in town, I don’t know? But I spent way too much time there – and have great memories of singing Paradise by the Dashboard Light, buying 10 cent drafts and 99 cent pitchers on Ladies Night (I think our guy friends later sold them for a profit later but we won’t talk about that), and honing my “maneuvering through a crowd to get to the bathroom” skills. 
  • Concerts and movies – I was on the University Program Board (UPB) and we DREW posters on poster board. I think we did get some official movie and concert posters, too, but we definitely MADE posters as well. We had great concerts, even Jimmy Buffett (on a cold, snowy April night in 1987).
  • The bookstore – it was so small compared to what is there now! You could buy books, a shirt, and maybe a few other JMU items, but that’s about it. There was a bank of post office boxes outside of the bookstore where you’d go and check for letters. Yes, letters. People actually wrote letters – on paper – back then! 
  • Graduation on the Quad – yes, we ALL graduated together at the same time. I’m not sure if our parents were able to see us this way or not, but it was great to be on the Quad with all our friends!
  • The ‘Burg – wow, has it changed! Downtown there was Jess’ Quick Lunch and Spanky’s. That’s about it. (And if you didn’t burn your tongue on a Spanky’s potato skin, did you really live?) All that stuff between JMU campus and Valley Mall? Wasn’t there. How did we survive?

JMU was (and is) about so much more than just getting a great education (which I did, despite all the JM’s references!). JMU was (and is) about forming lasting friendships. All these years later and I still see my JMU friends each year. Since 2006, a group of us girls have gone to our friends’ “Four Decs” beach home (you should check it out) in Corolla, NC for our annual “JMU Girls’ Weekend.” We take (and eat) too many snacks and drinks, shop a little, play games, and just catch up on each other’s lives. And every year at Homecoming, we all try to make it back to JMU if we can. We put up our purple tents, eat our tailgate food, wear our JMU gear, and cheer for the Dukes as loud as we can. We even sing the fight song! (Yes, I know all the words now). 

Young Dukes, take note: savor the moments, be present, and form those friendships. Four (or five or six) years go by really fast, trust me. You’ll soon find that life gets so busy and that it’s important to take the time to get together. One day it’ll be 32 years since you graduated and I hope you’ll be able to look back on your days at JMU as fondly as I do. Go Duuuuukes!


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  1. Zac / Sep 12 2019

    Great post! Amy sounds like an A+ Rootin’ Duke.

  2. Steve / Sep 12 2019

    It was the best of times! So many great memories! Amy, you nailed them too. I’d also add The Hill during football games where you could find about every beverage you could imagine plus the surgical tubing funnel slingshot that launched water balloons onto the track into the stadium. We did have the first JMU home night game back then as well. And we had almost all of the fraternities housed on campus back then too. Getting nachos and a six pack delivered in the snow from the JM’s guy on the moped was living it up! Also Four Star Pizza and Mr. Gatti’s! Our numbered visits to the D-hall steakhouse were wisely saved for a new crush or date. We have come a long way and yet I think some today are too blinded with their recency bias. I guess it’s not their fault, it’s all they know. It’s up to us OG to make sure the younger generations know our history and appreciate how far JMU has really come! There is wisdom in experience. Great post, Amy!

  3. Deacon Danny / Sep 12 2019

    Great post and thanks for serving up the memories from another 87 alum… Go Dukes!

  4. John Dec / Sep 12 2019


    Congratulations on your prognisticator abilities. (I never knew!). Yes, we didn’t tailgate but the hill was an all-day party! Go Dukes!

  5. Dianne Johnston / Sep 12 2019

    Enjoyed the read. I’m a ’70 graduate from Madison College. I lived in Johnston, Jackson then 2 x Gifford. The D-hall was round. Doc’s Tearoom was the place. The first men’s dorm was opened-only a few day student men before that. Just reminiscing…..

  6. Cosette Livas / Sep 12 2019

    The Marching Royal Dukes, were the draw at football games…. And we performed and sang the fight song every time. Not sure how your missed it…. Maybe at JMs.

  7. Rob K / Sep 12 2019

    Great post! Really well done. FYI – for one of the first dates with my future wife, I took her to the Steakhouse. I used one of my punches on her – kind of like the equivalent of taking her out. I thought it was very romantic. 🙂

  8. M@ / Sep 13 2019

    I remember a lot about the MRDs; though that probably because my gf (now wife) was one…

  9. Eugene Chianelli / Sep 13 2019

    Great post and congratulations for bringing it for your first time entering the prediction contest. I’m a 1993 graduate and I’m amazed at some of the things you mentioned, like:

    –In-person registration? What? We did it by phone, thanks very much. Still had to navigate the tiny-print catalog.

    –Freshman orientation was a thing, but not like it is now. It basically meant we showed up a day or so earlier than everyone else.

    –Krispy Kreme for breakfast? Lobster night? Never had those. D-Hall food was still legit though.

    –Graduation on the quad? Nope. We got to sweat it out on the Bridgeforth Stadium turf. I look at it as my moment walking in the footsteps of Gary Clark and Charles Haley.

    Thanks again for a great guest post.

  10. 89 Duke / Sep 14 2019

    Great post Amy! Congrats on winning! If I am reading this right, we were there the same time- You probably never saw me as I was in the stacks studying ALL THE TIME! You were spot on for a lot of my memories – thanks for the trip down memory lane! Go Dukes!

  11. OBXDuke83 / Sep 16 2019

    Well done Amy! You came in the year after I left. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

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