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On day 2 of our trip to Tallahassee and my very belated true “homecoming,” we headed back to the stadium to get a better look at the marvel that now occupies the space where the structure I knew used to stand. I must say that this building is marvelous. There are wonderful statues around the exterior. I’ve already talked about the Bobby Bowden statue, but even more recognizable to the public (and deeply meaningful to those of us who went to school here) is the “Unconquered” statue of Osceola on Renegade. You’ll notice, I never fail to recognize Renegade in the same breath – he is, after all, a horse. During the day it is remarkable. At night, it’s an amazing sight to behold!
From there we walked the entire circumference of the stadium. Immediately adjacent is the Dick Howser baseball facility. We stopped to admire the statues that are outside. One depicts a family of Native American Seminoles. It’s really beautiful. I love that my university never forgets who originally owned the land and who have graciously allowed us to use their tribal name.
Another of the wonderful statues is “Sportsmanship.” I can truly believe that Coach Bowden had some input as to that one. In his day, Coach was always sure to impress upon his team that while winning was exceedingly important, good sportsmanship was paramount.
There was a mandatory stop to photograph our Championship Wall. Wish we’d gone into the “sod cemetery,” but that will have to wait until my next homecoming trip. The photo below was taken by my friend, Julie Bauman, who I was thrilled to finally meet at the game. More on that in the next post.
Our next stop was a visit to the Hall of Fame. As you walk through the doors, the first thing one sees are the three National Championship trophies – three gleaming crystal footballs. I have to say that, as a true-garnet Nole, the sight simultaneously brought tears to my eyes and a huge lump in my throat. They are a source of great pride for all alumni and fans. There are also banners showing achievements of those associated with Florida State University in all college athletic programs. Most notably there was a banner highlighting Jameis Winston’s Heisman Trophy award. (Unfortunately, the trophy, itself, was not on site.)
As I stood in the middle of the hall, a familiar flash rushed by. My husband, Jim, saw him better than I. I only caught his flaming hair flying through the doors into one of the “off limits” areas. Red Lightning! Red is the now famous “ball boy.” Red has taken the job of ball boy to a whole new level. He is beloved by the whole team for his enthusiasm and dedication to the team. During games, you can see Red dashing up and down the sidelines. He performs his duties with such gusto and aplomb that he has become a celebrity of sorts. Red has also been known to wade into the fray to protect his players should difficulties break out. It seems that no Seminole or member of the opposition wants to tangle with our intrepid ball boy, so they back off. Seeing Red was an unexpected pleasure.
We then walked through the athletics museum that is part of the Hall. I recognized members of the Hall of Fame. One I especially recognized was Ron Sellers (aka “Jingle Joints) who was until this year the FSU career record holder as a receiver. His accomplishments are even more spectacular considering he was limited to only 30 games due to the rules in place at the time. I had the pleasure of meeting Ron when he was a client of a firm I used to work for. What a fine gentleman.
One of the displays that really meant a whole lot to me was the case that discussed the legacy of Osceola and Renegade. In the case are Renegade #1’s blanket and bridle along with Osceola’s boots. During my time at the University, that tradition had not yet started. I’m exceedingly glad that it’s part of the fabric of FSU football and life now.
As we were leaving the Hall, we were told that one of the campus buses (the Osceola bus) was free and would drive all around campus. We could get on or off at any stop and wander then jump back on. We thought that was a great idea and rode around for a while. It was so interesting to see how little the campus had changed in some ways and how beautifully it had been improved in others. I must add that every student we came upon was polite and friendly. I had to wonder if we had been that welcoming in our day. It was so nice to feel as though the students were pleased to see us “old timers” visiting. The buses stopped running in time for the Homecoming Parade to take over the streets.
While I was in school, I don’t remember attending a single Homecoming Parade. We made up for it this year. We were down by the Florida Capitol and saw that the parade was beginning on a nearby street. We walked over to that street and joined the group of local residents who were watching. What fun! We just missed Osceola and Renegade (our timing was just off and I was really disappointed), but we did get to enjoy the remainder of the parade and it was terrific being a part of the community for it. It was such fun seeing the “Garnet and Gold Guys” in person. Yes, they’re the latest iteration of the crazy guys that are always shown on television when an FSU game is broadcast.
After an extremely full day, we headed off to dinner. I will be devoting a whole post to the restaurants and B&B at a later time.
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