The word “fan” is short for fanatic, defined as a person filled with or expressing excessive and single-minded zeal for a cause. Anyone who has driven hours in a snowstorm to support their team, sat through a blowout loss in pouring rain or felt a particularly devastating loss as a literal punch to the gut certainly, and proudly, meets this description.


Fandom can run in families in lines either parallel or perpendicular – you might root for the team you do today because of who your kinfolk cheered or in spite of it, but generally speaking, team loyalties are as much a household tradition as when to open Christmas packages or Nana’s sweet potato pie. Here and there, there is a mutation in the fan gene – perhaps a child gets a full ride to a rival school or they marry someone from the other side of the conference. New traditions are formed, old rivalries spark anew, and the cycle marches on.


What sets the fan apart from the casual observer is personal investment of time and emotion. Does it really matter if you are wearing school colors if you are listening to the game on the radio? Only to a fan. Do you really need to sit through to the final whistle in a blowout? Only if you are a fan. Can they really hear what you are screaming at the television screen? They can if you are a fan.


AY About You visited the state’s four Div. 1 football schools to chase down one superfan each and capture their traditions, their tailgating styles and how they show the passion for their teams in their own unique ways. We found a tidy assortment of individuals with a lot in common – love of school, knowledge of team and the scars to show for following along, year after year, come what may.


Here’s to them and all who have ever stood and cheered as one.