Sep 7 / jmusport

Guest Post: From Wearing Ties to Start Wearing Purple

89 Dukes won our first prediction contest of the year, so he earned the right to guest post. Here’s his piece on his evolution from a fan who wears a tie to support his team, to one who Starts Wearing Purple every Saturday.

As I was thinking of what to write as the ‘celebrity guest writer” and musing between which style of prose to write in (Faulkner? Hemmingway? Clive Cussler?) I started to think about what JMU football means to me.  I thought back to my first JMU football experience — being in the stands at Scott Stadium in 1982 with my father watching the Dukes upset UVA 21-17.  During the game, I remember seeing their fans and thinking that JMU looked like a cool school to attend.  Although, the only comment my father could muster about JMU was “I can’t believe that we lost to a school that is mostly women and just a party school”.  To which this high school freshman’s first thought was “YES!”   When UVA played JMU again the following year, I was secretly rooting (It would have been a long walk home from Charlottesville) for another Dukes upset.  While Gary Clarke did his best with two punt returns for touchdowns, JMU came up short, but my love for the purple and gold had been cemented.

My dad was a season ticket holder and a staunch Virginia alumnus (i.e., he wore bright orange corduroy pants and a tie).  Although he traveled a lot, he always worked his schedule around home games in Charlottesville during football season and to spend more time with him, I would put on a tie (when in Rome…, but I did draw the line on the corduroy pants, a 14-year-old had to have standards) and make the trek up to Charlottesville.   Many an occasion, I was not the most eager of participants, but what I did not realize then was that my dad and I were creating memories and traditions that I carry on today.  Whether tailgating or eating down at ‘the Corner’, my dad always tried to make game day an experience.  Today we have corn hole while tailgating or eating at Jess’s or Ciro’s while making game day in the ‘Burg an experience. (I do miss Lugi’s and HoJo’s, but that is another story)

When I think about going to Bridgeforth this Saturday, I have been reflecting to my freshman year in 1985, when we opened the season at ETSU and then beat the eventual national champions Georgia Southern with 5,000 rain soaked fans in the 12,500-seat JMU stadium.   While biased, as a former football player, some of my fondest memories during my four (…and a half) years at Madison were game day experiences.

32 years later, and as I approach 25 years as a season ticket holder and Duke Club member, we are playing ETSU again, but now averaging over 21,000 a game with two National Championships to our name.  I think about all the memories that JMU football has given me over the years and why fall in Harrisonburg is so special to me.  From the comfort of listening to Mike Shickman and Jim Britt do the games on an AM radio (younger readers may have to check Wikipedia for reference) to driving to Marshall for a playoff game or sitting in the rain and snow during a triple overtime thriller against Rhode Island on a weather challenged November Saturday in 1998, JMU football has been the catalyst that has bonded us with friends and marked milestones in our life. (Look, I know it’s your sister’s wedding, but we ARE playing Hofstra that weekend!)

Over the past few years we have been able to show others why the term “Madison Experience” is so intrinsic and unique.  From the national exposure of ESPN Gameday, to watching the growth and maturity of a team defining the term “destiny” last year while reflecting the poise and leadership of our new head coach, to Frisco (enough said); we have been able to show the pride, loyalty, passion, and class of the JMU Nation.


As I sat in the stands during the waning minutes of the ECU game, I looked over and saw both my daughter, a proud JMU sophomore who drove down to go to the game with me, and son (a future Duke, as I am trying to raise him right) passionately chanting J-M-U with the crowd.  I looked upwards thinking of my late father, taking me to UVA games, teaching me how to tailgate, instilling love and loyalty to your team (even through the lean years) and thanked him for the gift of memories and traditions he gave me and thanked JMU for the ability to pass them down to my kids.



About me, I am a 1989 graduate of JMU, my wife graduated from JMU and my daughter is in her second year. (we have A LOT of purple in the house) I live in Richmond and I am Project Manager (official title, Sr project manager for business process improvement – yeah, I am a hit at cocktail parties) for a large insurance company.


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  1. M@ / Sep 7 2017

    Excellent post. I can relate. I was born in C’ville and attended UVA football (and many basketball) games. I thought I bled orange. Boy was I wrong (though watching from Chandler Hall as UVA beat FSU for the first time is still one of my favorite football memories).

  2. Carter Robinson / Sep 7 2017

    Wonderful post. I am the proud father of a 2014 Graduate of JMU Engineer. I support my school (University of Alabama and as a student there we all wore ties), but my Daughter chose JMU. Her mother and I are both proud and pleased that she did. Her first as a Duke was the upset at Va. Tech. Then last year she made the trek to Frisco. The experience she has enjoyed as a JMU football fan was much like what I enjoyed when in college. The number of games on TV might be different but the spirit of the students and alumni are the same.
    We wear Purple and Gold frequently and ROOT for JMU always.
    I also want to say I love the JMUSB because I can easily keep in touch with the success of the team in the fall.

  3. Todd / Sep 7 2017

    Thanks for the kind words Carter!

  4. Chris / Sep 7 2017

    Great post. GO DUKES!

  5. Mark / Sep 7 2017

    Great read. Love it. I too grew up going to UVA games with my Dad who is watching from above. My future Dukes still have a little while to go but definitely instilling in them the pride and passion of being a Duke!

  6. Gary tomlin / Sep 7 2017

    Glad someone remembers that win over Ga Southern in 1985. #60, JMU Football, Class of 1985

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