This football weekend was almost perfect. Perfectly cool football weather, lots of friends and family to enjoy tailgating, sold out stadium, and an important game that was close the whole time – only problem, we came out on the wrong end of the 31-36 final score.
Since January, we have had 4 sites at Fox Ridge State Park reserved for this EIU Family Weekend . Despite 30-40mph winds to battle, our nieces, Sheila and Darlene and their families completed the 200 mile trek from Quincy with their travel trailers by late Friday afternoon. Ken’s brother, Michael, and his wife Jean, and Ken’s sister, Carlene, and her husband, Buddy, arrived at about the same time with their fifth wheel and once set up joined us for dinner at Saathoff’s Restaurant in nearby Greenup.
When we returned to the campground, we enjoyed a campfire at Kent and Sheila’s site. Kyle arrived from Carlinville and Trevor came out after walk-thru practice and team dinner. We did birthday candles on a cheesecake to celebrate Kyle’s 27th birthday.
Saturday morning, we had a strict timetable to be sure that we had the full camping contingent packed and ready for transport to the stadium by 9:30am.
We loaded the ‘bus’ with ‘overflow’ transport in the jeep. This meant only 2 designated drivers were required!
As a motorhome we were one of the first allowed in the tailgate parking lot but it wasn’t long before things were really ‘cooking’ all around us
Kent volunteered to man our grill and start early with the brats they were providing since we were sharing our grill with several tailgating groups.
Ken was thrilled since not being in charge of the grill allowed him to ‘work the crowd’ a bit and visit the other tailgaters.
We were quickly joined by many friends and family.
Here’s Grandpuppy Staley enjoying her first tailgate while ‘Daddy Kyle’ directs additional family arrivals via cell phone .
Besides family camping with us at Fox Ridge, we were also joined by Kyle’s Jenni, our nephews John and Jerry Gallaher and niece Deanna Twaddle and their families, all driving in to Charleston Saturday morning.
Thanks to all the players who offered Trevor some of their comp tickets to help cover his massive family—and thanks too to the Grossmans who provided even 3 more that we needed last minute.
Jenni arrived shortly after we parked– hmmm, I guess the guys think she’s the perfect fit – for a Frericks family armrest
Other player families joined us as well…The Robinson’s – Scott and Keagan (EIU tightend out with a torn hamstring) added some great 17th Street bbq on the grill. Louis Kickle also provided some great chili.
Even Elmo and Scooby stopped by to say ‘hello’ at Frericks Tailgate Center
Other Quincy families and students drop by as well – like the Weckbachs,( and Sarah Liesen trying to stay farther back and off camera!)
With a number of little Panther fans in our group, not all of the activity stayed near the food and coolers.
Here, McKinley models her ‘Paw Pride’ tattoo applied by the students in a nearby tailgate tent.
Then McKinley and daddy Kent rode the mechanical bull.
Kent thought falling off the bull was funny. Apparently McKinley didn’t.
By then, Kelsey thought she had this bull figured out.
Oops – Bull sends Kelsey flying too!
Don’t feel bad girls, Bull even got the better of your Uncle Justin
By the time they got back from visiting all the booths in the area, the girls were all decked out in their game attire.
Trevor’s littlest fan club, our great-nieces, Lilia, McKinley, Kelsey and Caleigh, sitting together during the game.
The youngest, Caleigh, was a sideline favorite with the way she could boogey to the Madagascar song
Meanwhile on the field ....
While, on the sidelines…
Kelsey caught a shirt thrown out by the cheer squad. In fact, she, Ken and I made the school newspaper with a shot of us making the catch. Here’s a link to the newspaper photo gallery.
So that the little fans don’t get too bored, they have the south end zone set up as "Billy’s backyard” with lots of fun activities for the kids while the parents can still see the game.
and Deanna, Caleigh and McKinley with mascot ‘Billy the Panther’. Not present, Lilia who thought Billy's teeth were too big.
Looking back to the stands from Billy’s Backyard…it’s a full house!!
And from there they could see the game where in the 2nd half
The team gives out an offensive and defensive MVP for each game. As it turned out Trevor received the MVP Defensive award with 7 tackles, 3 tackles for loss and a forced fumble. One heck of a lot of tackles for an interior defensive lineman that couldn’t get the refs to call offensive holding the entire game!
You can get more scoop on the game here.
especially considering Jenn, the head trainer, was regularly stopping him to check on his shoulders to keep him in the game.
Meanwhile, here I am with some of my great-nieces and god-daughter Deanna in the stands. Lilia is starting to get ‘sleepy eyes’ as we neared the end of the game.
Although he was REALLY frustrated with the way the game went, Trevor turned on his signature smile and came out to greet and thank all his family and friends who came to see him play. This really meant a lot to him. Family is so important to him.
We were missing Jerry’s family and Carlene and Buddy in this picture but otherwise this is ‘the family tailgaters’.
Trev later got a separate picture with Uncle Buddy and Aunt Carlene
and, of course, the ‘traditional’ family weekend picture.
Then it was back to the motorcoach and time for some post-game soup before heading back to the campground
Trevor, after he was showered and comfy, came by the RV on the tailgate lot and tried to convince the guys to go back to his place to continue the party – the significant others thought differently!
Everyone did a wonderful job of helping to clean up, do dishes, and pack up.
It was dark by the time we got the motorhome back to the campground but with Michael’s assistance Ken and I were able to get it positioned back on the site with motorhome, nerves and marriage intact.
Even Kyle and Jenni were too tired by this time to go back in town to join the campus party scene. Instead, we enjoyed some campfire time and then called it a day.
Since Ken and I were the only one’s not leaving Sunday, we hosted the campers at our site for Sunday breakfast.
Ken cooked sausage, potatoes, eggs, and toast for our nieces and their families and Kyle and Jenni first, and then did a second shift when Michael, Jean, Carlene, and Buddy returned from morning Mass.
By noon we were back to just the two of us.
I must say this was one of the best weekends of our adventure so far. There’s nothing more fun than inviting others to share the fun and seeing that they are having a really good time, too.
Well, family and friends, there are still 3 more home games so let us know if you want to join the party!!
Next up…I’m in for a long home stretch while Ken and Kyle travel with the team (yes, with the team—same plane, same hotel, same buses, same restaurants—too cool!) . That game, EIU versus Penn State (gulp!!!) will be aired live on Saturday, Oct. 10th on ESPN Classic at 11am central time.