|High expectations lead to huge Fan Appreciation Day turnout|
|by Nikki Steele - Staff Writer - Sunday, August 18, 2013 7:22 PM||
CLEMSON- Increased expectations and plenty of star power on the 2013 Clemson football team led to a record-breaking crowd at Clemson’s annual Fan Appreciation Day Sunday in and around Clemson Memorial Stadium.
An estimated 20,000 people - from as far away as Alaska – surrounded Death Valley in hopes of getting the autographs of Tajh BoydTajh Boyd
RS Sr. Quarterback
#10 6-1, 225
View Full Profile, Sammy WatkinsSammy Watkins
Jr. Wide Receiver
#2 6-1, 205
Fort Myers, FL
View Full Profile and other members of the football team.
However, not everybody got to meet the players or coaches, and many were turned away despite standing in line for several hours. One father was followed by his young daughter, who walked with the tears flowing as she carried her unsigned football and poster back to their car.
Mike Money – the Director of Marketing for the athletic department – said that the record crowd was due to increased excitement about the Tigers’ upcoming season. However, despite improvements to allow more people through the lines, the staff still had to turn people away.
“I think this is the biggest ever. It is one of those things where the excitement of the season has added to the lines and the people here,” Money said. “We are thrilled to have this kind of turnout. It’s a great problem to have, but unfortunately at the end of the day we have to turn people away. It’s not the fun thing to do, but the players have obligations.
“This year we were able to add an extra half hour and we’ve tried add some improvements to the lines to get them moving - one autograph per person, limit how they do pictures. I think we’ve moved a lot more people through the lines this year, but going back the excitement of the season, you see the results out here from a fan standpoint. It’s terrific that this many people are out here, but it’s unfortunate that we have to cut the line off.”
David Newlin and his daughter drove up from Atlanta and waited in line for three-and-a-half hours before finally getting through the line of offensive players, and never made it over to the defensive side of the stadium.
“We got here at 12 pm. We made it through the gate at 3 p.m. and it took us 30 minutes extra to get through the gate,” Newlin said. “From there it was 30 minutes going through the line. It was painfully slow, but more controlled because you can just go by each player here and you don’t have all of the cutting in line and other issues from other years. It’s better - they just need more time.”
A young family from Pendleton made the short drive over and didn’t get in to see any of the players. Joel and Allison Fowler brought their sons Jackson and Luke, and they said they were happy to just be a part of the excitement.
“We came three years ago and you could just walk in and mingle with the players and hang out without getting an autograph,” Joel Fowler said. “Now this year, it’s crazy. It was fun, though. We just came out here to let the boys run around.”
Then, there were many like Stuart Driver from Greenwood that left with disappointed children because they left without being able to see their heroes.
“This is our first time and last time coming to Fan Appreciation Day,” Driver said. “My son asked me, ‘Are you kidding? We just waited in this line for this long and we can’t even get in?’”
Kathy Murtiashaw had perhaps the longest trek of any Clemson fans – her family came all the way from Anchorage, Alaska.
“I came down to be with my family. Coincidentally it worked out very well,” Murtiashaw said. “I think this is the Tigers’ year. We are going to come back and bring the entire family to the Florida State game.”
|Send Feedback to Nikki Steele: Email | Comment||