It was been wonderful to read all the great stories of Pitt fans on the Pitt POV. There is sort of a common thread and that is our common roots. Mount Lebanon. Donora. Squirrel Hill. Belle Vernon. Johnstown. Etc. Most of us have personal football involvement, or at least a healthy dose of participatory athletics also.
Me, I grew up in Rhode Island. The only athletes they grow in Rhode Island frankly are sailors (which I am) and the occasional hockey player. Heck, we had hockey cheerleaders in my high school (they wore VERY thick nylons!). My high school won the football state championship twice when I was there. No one really cared that much. Attendance was never more than a few hundred. No one from my school, I would venture to guess, ever played football at a P5 school. I played a bit of high school basketball, until I discovered I enjoyed skipping out on late study halls and going to the beach instead.
I knew nothing, absolutely nothing, of Pittsburgh until I found Pitt in one of those college reference books you used to research colleges back when we had actual bookstores. I got recruited for my guitar playing…Pitt had a great guitar teacher in Joe Negri, who if you don’t know who that is, his other job was Mr. Handyman on Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, which used to be filmed at the Pitt music school building before my time. The Pitt jazz band had a very nice national reputation, and so that was enough for me. My high school guidance counselor said he had no record of anyone going to Pitt from my high school before.
I had never attended a college football game before coming to Pitt. My first game ever was a 34-0 thumping of #14 NC State. I learned who Ironhead Heyward was on that day. It was cool. I think I perhaps went to see Pitt beat Navy. These games were fun!
And then the later in that season the 10-0 win over PSU happened (1987). I remember at that earlier NC State game people chanting “Penn State sucks” and I found it so odd that we, well, we dissed another college in our fight song? That made zero sense to me. I had no context, no history. And then, 10-0.
We rushed the field. My roommate stole one of the coaches’ head phones. It was bedlam and pure joy. A year or so later my crew and I apparently broke the game clock on national television. We have pounding on it vs. Notre Dame, “Lets Go Pitt!” Suddenly the ref runs over and seemed kind of upset. The police came and said if we did not settle down we would all be hauled away. Literally two plays later we scored a touchdown. We became quite joyfully unsettled…and away we went…
For me, however, the Fitzgerald Fieldhouse was where I really became a Pitt fan. I can still hear Paul Evans screaming at his players (unfortunately). When Jerome sent it in, well, wow. My roommate (was in the pep band) got a piece of the glass. The Georgetown fight at the Civic Arena I will always remember too. Sadly I will of course always remember things like…Vanderbilt. Such is the life of a Pitt fan. But what a great time to be a Pitt basketball fan. Warts and all, the Fieldhouse was special in those years.
I can’t say my story is too interesting, sorry! But perhaps a bit of something different, that even people from far away strange lands, lands that don’t care about football or basketball, lands where the name “Pitt” just don’t register in any meaningful way, even from there, someone can grow to be a rabid fan of Pitt athletics. HTP. DD.