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Choosing Fandom: Saved by Football

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NCAA Football: Texas Bowl-Kansas State vs Texas A&M Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the refreshed Bring on the Cats! To celebrate the new look and feel of our sports communities, we’re sharing stories of how and why we became fans of our favorite teams. If you’d like to share your story, head over to the FanPosts to write your own post. Each FanPost will be entered into a drawing to win a $500 Fanatics gift card. We’re collecting all of the stories here and featuring the best ones across our network as well. Come Fan With Us!

Unlike most K-State alumni and fans, I didn't come to Manhattan with any personal connection to the school. Not only had no one I knew attended K-State, most I knew didn't even know where it was! ("It's a bit west of Kansas City." "I see. So where's Kansas City?")

K-State sports didn’t take me by storm either, not right away. But by the end of my first few weeks of graduate school, I was desperately homesick, even though Manhattan was already familiar. I was thousands of miles away from family, I didn't have many friends still in town, and nothing really made sense. I was in bad shape, and probably only a few days from just chucking it all and going home.

Then, one fine day, a friend asked me if I wanted to go to a football game. She had an extra ticket and she thought I needed cheering up. I didn't know that much about football. My family had never taken an interest in the sport and I hadn’t grown up with it. I wasn’t enthusiastic about the game, but I went anyway.

The rest is history.

Back then, football at K-State was not quite what it is now. But there was a still a buzz around it, a fresh and new energy. The program was all possibility and little achievement, much like the average college student. Football was an instant icebreaker, a near-constant topic of discussion on campus. “How ‘bout those Cats” was the perfect conversation starter, even if the team wasn’t winning a whole lot.

Winning was sort of irrelevant to me at the time. I went to football games, cheered, cried, screamed at the refs, ranted after the game about how we’d never ever beat Colorado or Nebraska at this rate. In the process, I got over being lonely and forgot about being homesick. In a sense, football saved me.

It was football that kicked off my journey as a K-State fan, and football that later cemented it. The last game I ever saw live in Manhattan was the 1998 Nebraska game. I was among the thousands of students who rushed the field that November day, and also among the hundreds who brought the day’s fallen goalpost to Aggieville.

It’s been nearly 20 years since I was a K-State student, but my closet is still littered with purple gear. The Powercat logo is prominently displayed on my rear windshield. I even have one of those notes from Bill Snyder written in slanted purple marker.

More importantly, the friends and connections I made over those first few months of watching K-State sports have stayed with me, through time, distance, and yes, even Facebook.

I haven't been back to K-State since 2001, and nothing about Manhattan seems the same anymore, but I'm still a fan and probably always will be.

Once a Wildcat, always a Wildcat.

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