Student tailgaters revel in pre-game experience

Alex Entz/Senior Writer

The warm fall sun beams down on the large group, comprised mostly of seniors, milling about the high school parking lot. A half-full bag of Kingsford charcoal briquettes lies against the tire of an SUV, its black dust contrasting with the bright sheen of the miniature grill sitting just a few feet away.

A football arches through the air, and, with a satisfying “wallop,” hits senior Matt Hart’s hands perfectly.

“I came out of the womb with a spatula,” Hart said. “I was born to tailgate.”

The white smoke of the grill wafts up into the air, lazily making its ascent from the hamburgers roasting below.

Senior Jared Alberts explained his favorite part of the tailgating experience.
“I love nailing people with a football,” Alberts joked, just seconds after an errant pass to Hart strayed into a group of people wearing Tiger football jerseys.

Hart expounded on why he enjoys tailgating so much.

“I love hanging out with friends, grilling some quality Iowa beef, tossing around the pigskin and listening to some thumping beats,” he said.

Just a few feet across the parking lot, a large group of much older people stand around in small groups, seemingly unnoticed by the tailgaters. A large, graying man wearing a jean shirt and jeans explains that the Class of 1959, or the “59ers,” as he repeatedly refers to them, is having its class reunion. A few other members of this class offer warm smiles and critiques of the grilling techniques being used just a few yards away, but most simply ignore the large group of avid grillers and their up-tempo music.

As game time starts to roll around, the group seems reluctant to leave. Senior Nick Penticoff is one of the first to slowly leave the scene.
“Tailgating is the whole package,” he said wryly. “It’s just good to come out, show some spirit and get some food for doing it.”

The tantalizing smells from the grill bind together into one, a union of perfect and inherent matrimony that could only be found where team unity meets the grilling of delicious meat products.

“This,” Penticoff said, “is what being a Tiger is all about.”

Tailgating has been going on for years before home football games and has thus instilled a number of notable memories on its participants.

“The first tailgate of last year, we were all playing bags, and the cops showed up,” Hart laughed.

Alberts knows his most unforgettable tailgating experience without skipping a beat.

“When I got a $200 ticket and never got to see the game,” he said. “But tailgating is still the best way to pump up for a game.”

Senior Libby Dagit agreed, noting that tailgating was always an “awesome” way to start off a weekend, especially right before a big Homecoming game.
With an eye on the clock, most of the tailgaters begin to put away their grill-able items. The Kingsford charcoal and miniature grills follow as the group rushes to make an early 7:15 game start time.

Being a part of the tradition is a school spirit conscious way to spend a Friday afternoon, and it is easy to become a tailgater too.

“Just bring yourself, some burgers, a grill and a football,” Hart said, readying to leave to catch the kickoff.

As the tailgaters begin to leave, the sweet smell of the last warm days of fall still lingers in the parking lot, only to be replaced a few hours later by the victorious stench of the Tiger football squad itself.

Class of 2014

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