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Why I’m a fan of the Oregon Ducks

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Gather round, fellow Ducks, for a story of how I fell in love with the school, the teams and the whole damn state.

NCAA Football: UC - Davis at Oregon Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

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I am a Duck, and I’m damn proud of it. The University of Oregon provided me with not just a quality education, but some of the best years of my life as well. To celebrate our new look on the website, I’ll be sharing with you the story of why I’m a fan of the Oregon Ducks, and I encourage you to do the same!

Rewind back to early 2008. I was a junior in high school, living in San Francisco at the time. I had recently moved to the city as part of my whirlwind tour of growing up all over the country (eight cities in seven states and literally every corner of the country from Atlanta to Seattle), and soon I would be on the move again. But this time, for the first time ever, it was my choice where I’d go next.

When I started the college search, sports were a priority for me. I was raised by a mom who shared her love of sports with me, taking me to baseball games, letting me play almost every sport out there (except football, that one got shut down quick), so I knew the school I went to had to have a huge sports program. Immediately, I crossed all the California schools that had big enough sports programs off my list (Cal, Stanford, USC, UCLA), mostly because I didn't have the grades to get in. My 3.5 GPA wasn't cutting it for them.

I briefly researched other schools far from home that had big sports programs, Texas, Florida, Ohio State, etc. But I realized I loved the West Coast too much to leave it so soon. As a result, my search was narrowed down to the Pac-10 schools (before Utah and Colorado came along). My list included Oregon, Oregon State, Washington, Washington State, Arizona and Arizona State.

In February of 2008, I visited Eugene and the University of Oregon for the first time. I had no idea how I was going to pick a school, but by the time I stepped on campus and completed the tour, I knew this place was special. I just felt like I was at home, especially because I am a runner, and how could I turn down a town with running at its core?

On the way back up to the airport, we stopped at Oregon State for a visit. As soon as I heard they didn't offer a journalism program, I popped the trunk and pulled out my Ducks sweatshirt I’d just acquired and proudly tossed it on while still on campus.

I also visited Washington State and loved the campus. I didn’t end up applying, mostly because I’d hear back from Oregon first, but Wazzu came in a close second. What crossed it off the list was when someone on the campus tour asked what people do for fun in Pullman. Well, they can't be honest and say drink heavily, so they pointed us to Moscow, Idaho, where I think there was a Walmart and maybe an IHOP.

The decision was made. I wanted to be a Duck.

I arrived on campus in September 2009, and I still look back fondly on that time as I got settled into my new home. It was during that year that I fell in love with Oregon sports. I had been a casual fan in the months leading up, but starting that fall, I was a die-hard fan. You'd find me at every football game, every basketball game (even the annual Northwest Christian exhibition) and any other sport that was going on.

My first game at Mac Court during my freshman year.

The Pit Crew became my second family. I’m going to one of my best friend’s weddings this summer and guess how we met? Pit Crew. My groomsmen for the day I get married? Pit Crew. The only people from college I still stay in touch with? Pit Crew (or Max’s/Rennie’s, but that’s a story for another day). Some of my best memories of college are the hours we spent together waiting outside in the cold, rain, heat, and every type of season you see in Oregon waiting to get in the stadium to cheer on our Ducks. There was the time we literally slept at the gates of Autzen before a game against USC. There was the other time when Dana Altman brought us pizza as we waited outside Matthew Knight Arena for a game.

Then, there were the games themselves. Memories were made at these games that I will cherish forever, like when we took down USC on Halloween night in 2009 after staying up all night to attend College GameDay. Or when we stormed the court after winning the CBI (yeah, how the times have changed, huh?). Or, of course, watching the Ducks win the Rose Bowl in 2012 and 2015 and getting to experience watching them play for a national title.

This photo, with me in the grey hat, was later used on the official basketball poster the next season.

But it wasn't just about football and basketball. Why I’m really a fan of the Oregon Ducks is because of the experiences as a whole around ALL the sports on campus. Like wolfing down a hot dog in the sun at PK Park, or packing into the bleachers as Oregon softball played in a Super Regional, or cheering on the Acrobatics & Tumbling team because they treated the Pit Crew like we were just as much a part of the team as they were, or sitting in the historic grandstands of Hayward Field and feeling a sense of the community that is Tracktown USA.

See? Oregon isn't always grey and rainy. Only like 80% of the time.

When you have these experiences over the course of four years, it becomes more than just about sports. These teams become a part of who you are. The people on the field or court aren't just athletes, they're your classmates, your roommates, your friends. There is a sense of pride around being a Duck, and that pride grew within me more and more during my time in Eugene and even more so once I moved away from Oregon. If you asked me to pick one word associated with me and the Oregon Ducks, it’s proud. Because as the school says, once a Duck, always a Duck.


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