The Day Belonged to Sparty

by Voula Erfourth 

It was my first trip to Southern California. I had every intention of enjoying it to its fullest. After having no power at home for almost a week, courtesy of Icepocalypse 2013, I was ready to leave Michigan. My husband and I arrived at Detroit Metro, to find our flight overbooked by a dozen people. All I could think was, “Dear God, please let me onto this plane. I don’t care what happens after that.” Karma listened to my call, but sat me next to the ONLY person on the plane wearing a Stanford shirt. Spartans need to stay humble.

Nonetheless, my friends, I was in luck. Everything, as you know, came up roses. Los Angeles was effectively East Lansing of the West for those few days. Shouts of “Go Green, Go White” were more common than “Good Morning,” “Good Afternoon,” or “Goodnight.” I found myself nodding to other Spartans everywhere we went, so much that I started to feel like a bobble-head. It was an unplanned reunion, as I ran into people I haven’t seen in a dozen years. The fevered excitement was spreading like the flu we left behind in Michigan.

We arrived via bus to Pasadena, to find that the Rose Bowl was basically a home game and we could have been at Spartan Stadium. You know, except for the shorts, the sun, and the palm trees…in January.

It occurred to me that we are now officially a school that plays football in January. How did that happen? There was a collective feeling among the fans who we spoke to that in OUR support, year after year, of this team, that WE also were feeling the way the team must have felt – excited, nervous, ready to fight.

However, even after several years of decent football teams in East Lansing, and a higher ranking than our opponent, we were the underdogs. Vegas and experts were giving Stanford the advantage. I blame the sports media for that. And being a Spartan, for some reason, we’ve always maintained a bit of an underdog role. Having a chip on our shoulder doesn’t come easy. Pride comes before the fall. But that day, there was none of that. We were ready for battle, and nothing would bring us down. Not a first-series touchdown by the other guys, not their silly little band and its inappropriate nod to our couch-burning obsession, not even a poorly timed appearance by Lloyd Carr. The day belonged to Sparty.

We stopped in Hollywood on our way to the airport yesterday to see the spectacle, and stopped under the giant billboard planting our flag in SoCal:  Our Team. Our Town. Our Time. Los Angeles Spartans Welcome You.

While I was trying to capture that billboard for posterity, some guy photo-bombed me to let me know that he lost money on our game and how dare we win.

“Never bet against the Spartans,” I told him. I gave him my best mid-western smile and walked off onto the Sunset…Blvd.

Voula Erfourth is an undercover English teacher posing as a college administrator at Baker College in Owosso, Michigan. She is currently back at her beloved MSU pursuing a doctorate in Higher Ed Administration. You can read more by Voula on her blog, A Tale of Two (Half)Greeks.

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