Dad’s Fanatics Often Become Family Fanatics


There was a sports store in a Fort Collins mall we just didn’t have in Greeley.

I don’t remember the name. But it felt like heaven to an early teen. Not because the cashier there looked like Summer Sanders (sigh). It was the college shirts. Miles and miles of shirts. Well, if a small corner mall plot could go on for miles, it would, in this case.

This post is part of the Family Fanatics campaign. They actually do seem to have miles and miles of college T-shirts.

And I still love a good college shirt. So do my girls.

Here’s 6 things that are cool about wearing college T-shirts.

1. Colors. Unless you’re wearing Wyoming brown, the colors are vibrant, and take on new meaning with the secondary color. You represent, when you see garnet and gold. Maize and blue, or cherry red and Columbia blue (Delaware State, if you’re wondering).

photo credit: Dave Sizer via photopin cc
photo credit: Dave Sizer via photopin cc

2. Mascots. When I see someone in a Charlotte 49ers shirt, i greet with “Go Niners!” and get a brotherly/sisterly response. Other schools might have cool mascots – Ducks, Commodores and Gophers – which look cool and fierce on a good T-shirt.

But there’s only one Niner Nation. Unless you count Long Beach State.

And I don’t.

3. Conversations – good. Wear Ohio Bobcats green, Indiana crimson or Colorado black and gold and you might end up in conversations. They could involve love, or hate. It’s the chance you take when you wear the colors of a school.

I’ve gotten thumbs up for a cap I wore that meant something to someone. I just smiled, waved back, then, turned a corner to take off my hat because I couldn’t remember which cap I had on.

4. Conversations – bad. Elise lived a couple of years in Tallahassee, and acquired some Florida State gear. Most notable: A denim jumper with a small Seminoles logo on the chest. A man in a store gave her hell for the ‘Noles while she was in North Carolina.

Mind you, she was 3. She twirled her hair and smiled. This dude was more annoying than the Noo Noo on Teletubbies. That must have been what she thought.

photo credit: Dave Sizer via photopin cc
photo credit: Dave Sizer via photopin cc

5. Conversations – nostalgic. My girls wound up with Iowa State Hawkeyes T-shirts last year. They were badass, a simple black shirt with that menacing bird on it. A family from the team is from Iowa, and the familiar colors and logo were a taste of home.

Good thing I didn’t get Iowa State Cyclones shirts. Two words – ‘state’ and ‘Cyclones’ – make such a difference.

6. Dreams. When I was young I could put on a Maryland Terrapins cap. Or maybe a Pennsylvania Quakers T-shirt or Kansas Jayhawks sweatshirt. And I could dream. Dream of playing quarterback in College Park, baseball in Philadelphia or basketball in Lawrence. It’s the power of the colors.

Dreams change, though. Your alma mater rises to No. 1 status. Their rivals – Cincinnati, East Carolina, Davidson – plummet to the bottom, like they should. You won’t catch me dead in those colors.

The dreams are for the girls now. Elise, in University of Hawaii green? Marie, in Arizona State maroon? Grace, in Oklahoma crimson?

Today, anything’s possible.

And it all starts with the shirt.

What’s your family sports story? What impact has sports had on your family? 

# # # did not compensate for this post. All opinions are my own.

fan quote


  1. NotAPunkRocker says:

    Kid is a fan of Virginia Tech. Hokies, crimson/orange. The schools he will probably transfer to in a few years, if not VT, would be red/white (Highlanders) or red/grey (Highland Cavaliers…I’m sensing a pattern here).

    I wear a lot of shirts from my employer, which leads to conversations when I am out and about. Mostly “hey, I know someone who went there!” (navy/grey, a bird 🙂 )

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      There are worse ways to go than the Hokies. Carolina blue, for instance. The conversation automatically starts when your colors show, you know. Even if they’re not your colors, yet.

      Where do you work? I’m spinning through my encyclopedia mind to put the navy, grey and bird together …

  2. laurie27wsmith says:

    Sadly Eli old son I didn’t even go to high school so I have no scholastic sports heroes at all. Does a Green Bay Packers cap count at all?

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I think you in a Packers cap qualifies as the scholastic sports hero, mate.

      1. laurie27wsmith says:

        Would that make me the thinking woman’s pinup boy?

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        You said it, friend.

      3. laurie27wsmith says:


  3. I actually went to three different school, one for an associate’s and bachelor’s degree. Another for a bit of my Master’s Degree and then another to finish out my Master’s Degree. Not sure I would wear any of them at this point anymore, but back int he day, I proudly went to games and donned the colors of choice from each of these schools just because I could. 🙂

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Wow – we could just put all those schools together and rename them the Janine Conference. What schools are we talking about?

  4. No college sports teams, hence no jerseys in you-know-where. I feel so lame.

    I do, however, have a dear friend with a Rockies hat. Does that count? Although he may be on the police’s wanted list. I heard something about choppers circling their neighborhood…

    Hahaha, otherwise Hawaii green sounds just about right. Go, Elise! You are aware that’s awfully far away, right?

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Don’t feel lame. It’s just an American thing, apparently.

      Any guy in a Rockies hat is suspect. And it goes on your record. I’ll assure you he was an innocent bystander that night who stayed under cover at home because … pigment.

      That is halfway across the world, for Elise to become a Rainbow Warrior. But I want her dreams to carry her as far as they can.

  5. Caroline says:

    Ah… I liked this post until the end… Not sure we can be friends anymore… GO PIRATES! 🙂

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Loyalty is loyalty, Caroline. You’re not a conference rival – and the closest one at that. There’s no room for love in a conference rivalry! GO NINERS!

  6. Twindaddy says:

    I live about 10 minutes south of Cincinnati, but I was born in Detroit and am therefore a Michigan fan. I wear a lot of maize and blue. On the south side of the river I get a lot of “GO BLUE” from random strangers. On the north side of the river people aren’t so hospitable.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I’m like you brother. I root for Colorado State because it’s near where I am from. It only comes into play when the Las Vegas Bowl is played or if the Rams make the NCAA tournament.

      I wonder what would happen if you wore your blue in Columbus, Ohio.

      1. Twindaddy says:

        Nothing, so far, though I’ve only done it once. I wore it to the Ohio State fair a few years ago. I got some odd looks and some performer at a show noticed my shirt and pointed me out to the entire crowd. I got booed.

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        At UNCC games, if someone shows up in a Tar Heels shirt, we boo the poor bastard until he leaves or buys a Niners shirt.At the Ohio State fair, you must have had a shirt with just an M on it … otherwise, there would have been a lot of mouth reading … Mi … chi … gan. Mi … chi …. gan. Michigan! Boo!

      3. Twindaddy says:

        LOL. Well, they don’t have to read. The colors give it away.

      4. Eli Pacheco says:

        I actually knew two women, former co-workers, who were on opposite ends of that rivalry. They’d walk around in their schools’ shirts, together. Made me sick.

  7. tamaralikecamera says:

    Summer Sanders! What a flashback.
    For me, it was Rutgers University – often in the news, and often not for great things.
    The colors are scarlet and white. The mascot is a Scarlet Knight.
    My daughter is a Scarlet. Is it all connected?

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I know! I loved her hard.

      Yeah, Rutgers has a bit of of a rep, don’t they? Cool helmets, though. Don’t forget that your Scarlet is a princess who knows how to use Siri. That has to be a connection somehow.

  8. I don’t think Northwestern Business College had a mascot, but I remember the children of some rich dbag I worked for always talking about the Golden Gophers. But those could be Pokeman for all I know.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I think Northwestern Business College ought to be the Runnin’ Suits. A Runnin’ Suit could kick a Golden Gopher’s ass – and Pokemon’s ass, for that matter.

  9. Katie @ Pick Any Two says:

    My husband and I both went to a very small liberal arts college in PA, and we wear our gear quite often. But now that my husband works at Penn State, we have almost as many t-shirts from there!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      What’s the mascot? It’d be cool if they got paired up with the Nittany Lions in the NCAA tournament. When I first enrolled at UNC Charlotte, I wondered who I’d root for if they played Colorado State in the tournament.

      I know without a doubt I would root for the Niners now.

  10. Nina says:

    UCLA!! We buy collage paraphernalia for our kids from time to time, even those that aren’t our alma mater (for instance, if we visit a college campus). My husband also went to UCLA but got his grad degree at USC, so we actually confuse some people a few times with our gear lol.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      My favorite coach of all time is John Wooden. If I ever get to travel, I make sure to bring back college shirts for the girls. I often wonder how people do that … get an undergrad at one school and advanced degree at the rival school.

      I guess it’s all academic!

  11. Meredith says:

    I have so many school shirts and I simply can’t give them up! Each one is a memory of a place I visited, had a friend, or actually was a student there myself. Hold on to all of them (though I am thinking I may have to turn mine into a quilt? 😉 ) and keep rocking the tees, Eli!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Plus, they are more comfortable with lots of miles, aren’t they? And that’s where they pick up more stories. I’ve thought about the quilt, but I like to wear them until they fall apart. So it’d be more like a sheet.

      I found a table of long-sleeved college shirts for $1 each at a yard sale. It felt like I found the lost ark.

  12. Kim says:

    Hook ’em Horns!!! (I didn’t graduate from UT – I went to a smaller school.) I’m a huge Longhorn fan now because I live in Kansas – smack in the middle of K-State and Kansas so it is fun to be all Texas!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      You’re allowed to root for the home state team, Kim. It’s fun to be all Texas in Kansas, except during basketball season, right? Oh wait, and football season …

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.