A Crop of Good Memories and a Lot to Be Thankful For 

by | Nov 21, 2023 | 0 comments

Home E Football E A Crop of Good Memories and a Lot to Be Thankful For 

Enjoy the present, it is the best time

If you’re reading this right now, you’re probably enjoying that nebulous time before Thanksgiving when not too much matters. You’ve probably already prepped your meal checklist, decided on seating arrangements and dusted off the old folding chairs from the attic that only get used when your cousins from up North come down for the holidays. It’s a fantastic time where you get to just be. Thanksgiving is the best holiday by far. The only presents you have to worry about are your presence and what you’re planning to contribute. Some people start the turkey early, but I head for the Wild Turkey early. I love some brown liquor in the house with multiple dishes going, some background music and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade emanating from the TV set. The perfect microcosm of American Life. High school marching brands, a Sesame Street parade float sponsored by Big Pharma, and then a 30-second lip-synched performance by Bad Bunny. It’s an eclectic mix that culminates in Santa Claus rolling down 34th Street to officially kick off the consumption frenzy that is the holiday season. 

This country is so vast. Now with the current makeup of this conference spanning the entire United States, it’s a treat to see how others live and enjoy their sports. Have made many new acquaintances from places I never thought I’d ever care to visit. We haven’t even been in the Big 12 for six months, but the vibrant fanbases, culture, wit and passion are unmatched. I feel like we’ve all learned so many new traditions, history and anecdotes that have textured our passion for collegiate sports, and emboldened our love for our own alma mater and team. Looking at our future schedules, it’s like seeing dream matchups you’d only get to conjure up when playing NCAA Football 2007 on the PS3. 

This rivalry week feels a little different though. We’re not playing on Black Friday and the cows are fighting for their lives, just like us for the opportunity at postseason play. 

I’m starting to warm up to the idea of a Gasparilla Bowl matchup with them by the way. The only bowl game Gus Malzahn has won at UCF was against an in-state foe at Raymond James Stadium. 

Happy Thanksgiving to Mikey Keene, Tatum Bethune, Ryan O’Keefe and Matt Lee. 

While the Big 12 may be losing a premier college football rivalry in Oklahoma and Texas next year, let me put you on to a sneaky good rivalry that remains: Farmageddon. This college football rivalry between the Iowa State Cyclones and the Kansas State Wildcats has been held every year since 1917; one of the longest continuous series in college football history. The name comes from both institutions being land grant agricultural schools and a play on the word “Armageddon”. Each university identifies with a different crop; their major state export. Kansas State: Wheat. Iowa State: Corn. How do you prefer your tortillas, flour or corn? I know which one Tre’mon Morris-Brash prefers. 

Got me thinking. Do you know who you should be especially thankful for this year? The American Farmer. The best part of being in this conference is exposure to concepts you had no idea was even a thing. Crop Judging. This is a competition where participants evaluate crops for seeds affecting market quality while identifying specific weed seeds and plants. Meat Judging is another separate competition that takes into account livestock.

It’s essential for our food supply and everything we have on our table this Thanksgiving. Kansas State is putting up Bill Russell’s numbers with 32 crop-judging national championships. Elite. This year they split a natty with a familiar rival in Iowa State. Very interesting layer for this year’s matchup.

I’ve always seen K-State fans tout these accolades but my curiosity led me to connect with Meara Bergstrom, a budding agronomist now studying at Fort Hays State University, with hopes to earn her graduate degrees at Kansas State. She comes from a long line of farmers and fell in love with agronomy in high school. 

Her coursework is heavy on sciences with organic and biochemistry with some business classes peppered in.  Meara says “So many people don’t know how they get their food on their table and it’s just annoying, and it’s important to me and we get overlooked.” She needs to learn about soil, crops, weeds, water, diseases, pests, and the animals eating those crops. It’s a vital professional field that the Cyclones and Wildcats pump out graduates in perennially. People can become agronomists, crop consultants and even seed representatives for the agriculture industry. Meara shared that what fuels her passion is “providing farmers with whatever they need to feed the world.” What a beautiful sentiment. Something we all take for granted that we should be extremely thankful for. The Bergstrom household opts for medium rare prime rib for their Thanksgiving meal over turkey. I can only imagine how damn good that cut of meat must be year after year. 

I’m grateful for interactions like this. I love to learn, new experiences and to connect with people. The latter half of this year has been rich in that. My birthday always falls near Thanksgiving so it’s a great time to take inventory of the past year and an opportunity to set new goals, reminisce on what I enjoyed and wash away what I want to do better. This year has been a lot of fun and I have made some great memories and shared some fun times with so many people in the UCFamily and the Big 12 community at large. I’m a lucky man.

Spend the time this week with those important people in your life. Enjoy the long “walk” with your cool cousins this Thanksgiving. It’s okay to pop into the local Chili’s for a solo pint, or a cold brew at the Target Starbucks as you get some “last minute things” and take a moment to slow down. This time is meant to reflect and give gratitude for all that you’ve been blessed with. I’m especially grateful for all of you who have read, shared and encouraged this column throughout the year. 

So, pass the gravy and give me a bowl game. Wear your comfy pants all week. Give thanks to this country’s farmers as well as the fresh crop of new conference mates coming our way in less than a year. 

We’re living in the absolute best time. The present. 

‘Til next time, take care of yourself and each other and Happy Thanksgiving. #BeatHouston


About Dali
Proud UCF Alum ⚔️ | Big12Conference Fan | Avid Content Creator & Marketer | Curator of Good Times | Believer in “the sweet is not as sweet without the sour.” Twitter: @Dali_Drama


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