The Cal Football Community

When coming to Berkeley, there was one thing I really looked forward to: football. From cheering in the spirit section for my high school’s football team to my family’s fantasy football league, I loved to cheer on a team I could call my own. So I made it a priority that I would go to as many football games as possible at Cal, despite not knowing much about the team.

I remember my first game: a hot midday game against UC Davis. It was so exciting to see crowds flowing into California Memorial stadium, the students getting their game day t-shirts, and the Rally Committee and CalBand filling up their sections.  However, at the first game, I was surprised at what I saw: many people came to the game but didn’t even watch, leaving halfway through. The student section seemed pretty empty against the full card stunt. The stifling heat made it difficult to concentrate on anything. Despite winning the game by a substantial amount, there was little fanfare or hype for the team.

As a member of the Rally Committee, I had the chance to learn much about Cal football history. There was not always such a laid-back attitude about our team.  Coaches like Andy Smith and Lynn “Pappy” Waldorf in the last century brought fame and honor to Cal football. But after the 2018 season, a season marred by quarterback changes, interesting upsets, and close but disappointing losses, it seemed that a large audience was skeptical of what the 2019 season would look like.

Cal football meant a lot to me. Going to games in the fall meant spending time with my closest friends, celebrating fun traditions, and getting to cheer on the team that was representing me. Our support meant even more because of our underdog team. The season had many twists and turns from a winning streak to a losing streak, and then an unexpected comeback. Through it all, I felt a connection to both the team and to the friends and fans around me. We went through a journey , through the good, bad, and exciting times, and football gave us something to talk about, something to relate to, and something to experience together.

In the culmination of the season, the Big Game against Stanford, I saw a complete change from the beginning of the season: the Cal section was filled up and was covered in blue and gold paraphernalia. After our astonishing win, alumni and students were crying, cheering, and celebrating the players. This was the community I had hoped for, one that truly cared about the outcome of the game.

Paulina and her friends in the student section during the Big Game against Stanford

I believe Cal football brings us together. When we lose, we lose together, and when we win, we win together. The team represents us, fights for us, and makes us proud, and we, in turn, give them our admiration and support. As supporters of the Cal football team, we have the chance to make a community together.