National spotlight shines on Carolina
By Liz White, email@example.com, 803-777-2848
It was certainly not a normal Saturday on the historic Horseshoe in the heart of campus. Students had pitched tents and stayed up all night, blasting “Sandstorm” and “2001” into the night. Alumni and fans gathered early in the morning before the sun came up decked in garnet and black.
There was a palpable energy. Excitement. Pride. Relief.
For several students camping out on the Horseshoe for a chance to cheer on the No. 6-ranked Gamecocks was a lifelong dream.
“I’ve been a South Carolina fan for 20 years,” said Thomas Fisher, a 20-year-old sophomore international business student. “These are the glory days. I’m excited to be able to tell my grandkids about it one day. I’ve been wanting for this for 20 years.”
Fischer and his friends, Thomas Spurgeon, Nicholas Liger, Daniel Fischer and Connor Bain, all sophomores, camped out on the Horseshoe ahead of painting themselves in garnet and heading to Williams-Brice Stadium to cheer on the Gamecocks.
“The real USC doesn’t get a lot of attention most of the time in the national media,” Bain said. “This is a big time for us – the football program is doing well and our academics are just as good.”
For Caroline Fitzsimons, a junior marketing major, the day meant something special for her, having grown up listening to her father’s stories from his days as the beloved mascot Cocky.
“It’s really exciting being able to see all the different traditions continue,” Fitzsimons said. “It feels like it has become more a community thing than just a student thing, especially being from here. It makes everyone realize how big our program is and how important our student atmosphere is to us.”
Maybe it seemed a little crazy to camp out on the Horseshoe, but Matt Price, Katee Driscoll and Elizabeth Moore, all freshmen, pitched their tents to be a part of the rare experience.
“We’re hoping to get on TV and for the experience to be out here with everyone,” Price said. “We feel really excited being around everyone. The energy is really high and everyone wants to be out here. It brings everyone together.”
ESPN’s College GameDay came to the Horseshoe for the first time in 2010 ahead of the football game against then No. 1-ranked Alabama. Members of the nationally televised show said the Carolina Horseshoe is one of the premier spots the show travels to across the country.
“This is one of our favorite spots,” said Chris Fowler, one of the show’s hosts. “When we finally got access to do this on the Horseshoe two years ago and the way the students show up and camp out, that’s fun for us. You walk out on the set and there’s a lot of energy around you.”
More sights and sounds from College GameDay’s trip to the Horseshoe:
Katee Driscoll, first-year biochemistry major: “I think we go to a great school. Think of all my friends that don’t get to experience GameDay and stuff like this.”
Nicholar Liger, sophomore physics major: “We get to camp out as a big Gamecock community on the Horseshoe just to celebrate how awesome we are.”
Max Connors, senior sport management major: “It’s kind of a once-in-a-lifetime thing. When else are you going to get to see GameDay come to your campus and be so close?”
Shelly Gentle, senior global supply chain major: “It really rallies the troops. We would have regretted it if we hadn’t have come here.”
Kelsey Taylor, first-year nursing major: “I love going here and it makes it 10 times better to know how cool this is.”
Erik Lybeck, senior English major: “I can’t believe how cool it is to see the university on TV, having 10,000 people on the Horseshoe on national TV. It’s insane. How could you see this and really want to go anywhere else?”
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