It’s hard to capture the magnitude of Cal’s 73 points against Grambling State during the Cal football season opener. It’s difficult to articulate the nail-biting stress that the games against the University of Texas, the University of Washington, and Washington State University induced, though they ultimately ended in sweet victory. It’s tough to accurately craft into words being a 5-0 team ranked 23rd in the nation.
The first Cal game I attended as a freshman was the second game of the 2012 season against Southern Utah, and we won pretty decisively, giving me a great first impression of Cal football. Though the rest of the season proved to be pretty tough and disappointing, the beautiful taste of our 43-17 rout of UCLA left me at least hopeful for the 2013 season, the new, Sonny Dykes era of Cal football.
(Photo from my first Cal game)
And then that year we went 1-11, barely scraping by Portland State for our only win. Stanford crushed us by 50 points and Oregon trounced us by almost that many. I was not going to give up my support and love for the Golden Bears, but it was no easy time to be a Cal fan. Games were long, and defeat seemed inevitable in most games by the second quarter.
Last year’s 5-7 season not only provided evidence that QB Goff and the team had improved, but also it gave my friends and I a memorable season; the idea of walking to a game not certain we would lose was pretty electrifying. Last season was filled with 1-point thriller victories, surprise upsets, and final-second heartbreaks, all bundled into a almost-.500 record and a season that was far from dull. It was exciting, it was promising, and big dreams were dreamt for the 2015 season.
So many conflicting emotions swarmed inside of me as I entered California Memorial Stadium this September. Nostalgia at happy memories past, anxiety for what lie ahead, and deep sadness that this was the final year I would get to experience this as a student. So far, it’s been pretty special to watch a team composed of many of the same players from that 1-11 team charge onto the field this year and emerge victorious 5 out of 5 tries.
These are the memories I want to take away from college. The hot, sticky afternoons, feet clenched on metallic gold bleachers, next to friends, and peers, and those whose names I didn’t know but who shared the same unwavering passion for our school that had the power to band us together.