The Time is Now.

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I can’t even describe how surreal this weekend has been.  No matter how hopeful, there were times I thought football at UNCC would never come to fruition because I put too much stock in what the naysayers said.  I worried for a long while that “The Time is Now” would never be more than a tagline.  Afraid to speak it aloud, I wondered if a bunch of determined students and grads had enough power to get this off the ground, convince the doubters they were wrong and get people off their asses in support of Charlotte.  Any doubt I ever had was not rooted in what I thought the Charlotte 49ers were capable of doing.  It was rooted in my fear of the disappointment if this vision did not materialize.  The struggle has ended and on Saturday August 31st, 2013 a dream was realized.  I’m beside myself.  To say that this day was emotional would be an understatement.  All I can manage to do successfully is give you a recap.

Since I’m nocturnal, I medicated myself and went to bed early.  I sent D off to another room so his snoring wouldn’t keep me up and I’m not ashamed to admit it.  This was a big day and we needed good rest (plus he had a gig directly after)!!!  I had prepared our crowd favorites: margaritas, sausage rolls, and cupcakes topped with fancy gold and green icing that I painstakingly dyed JUST to have melt into what looked like Nickelodeon Gak.  Note to self, don’t do that unless it’s cool.  How was I supposed to know?  I’d NEVER BEEN to a college football game ;).  We struck out towards Charlotte at 7AM.  Sweet lord, I really had to get myself in check before I saw regular people that don’t know me (or want to know me) in the wee morning hours.  And to the stranger in the red Honda that shook his 49er jersey at us in the truck on the highway to Charlotte after seeing all our Niner gear….you made my morning!  Picks up, baby!

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Starting the tailgate, Mountain Dew in hand!

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Wind caught Jason’s flags just right.

We had so much fun tailgating.  I made a concerted effort to document everything in photos.  This was once in a lifetime stuff, ya know? 

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Toasting at the Normbulance, a tradition for all other sports at Charlotte…and now for football!

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The drum line, marching down one of the main roads on campus and up the hill to the stadium.

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The players, filing off the bus in front of cheering fans as they make their trek up the bricks to the stadium!

Some people probably think I spend more time photographing things than enjoying what’s happening around me.  And sometimes D is one of those people.  I disagree.  It brings me a lot of joy when I get a picture of a priceless moment.  I would like to pretend that years from now everything about this day will be so vivid in my mind. But I know that’s not true and I want something to bring it all back to me.  I know how important this day was and when I look through these pictures I want to remember how great we felt, how happy our friends were, and how the energy pulsated through the crowd.

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Taking our seats for kickoff, front row in the end zone for the rest of our lives. I ain’t mad.

I want to remember the chills I had when the team rushed onto the field for the first time and how the stands shook from the cheering.

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One of the best moments of the whole day. Green fireworks and all.

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Touchdoooooooooooooooowwwn Niners!

And not to disappoint, Charlotte scored their first touchdown within one minute of play on a Pick 6.  Needless to say, the crowd erupted.  It was barely enough time to settle down from the emotional team entrance, but I won’t complain too much!  It really set the tone for the rest of the game.

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Where is my open man?

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There he is. BOOM!

And one of my rowmates said, “I want a touchdown, right now, in THIS corner.”  So Charlotte made sure to deliver.

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Wide open!!!!

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Touchdoooooooooooown 49ers!!!!

And all was right in the world.  I just love that picture above, the camaraderie and the joy in that moment.  We were victorious this day (in more ways than one) and the final score was 52-7 in favor of the good guys.  The fans rushed the field chanting, surrounding our players, cheerleaders, dancers, coaches, and of course, Norm.

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The Niner Nation.

When I think back on all the important days in my life, this day ranks in my Top 5.  That may sound a little extreme to some of you, and trust me I have had lots of noteworthy things happen in my life.  My explanation of the uphill battle  fought for years to bring football to our campus would be so weak.  Knowing that I’ve had any hand in this becoming real is such an honor.  I’m proud of this.  What an incredible day in the Niner Nation.

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