Time to rally around Hometown Timmy
I’ve always enjoyed hosting a party. For me, it brings together all the things that make life sweet. The opportunity to have company over, make new recipes, and drink some cold snacks with your friends and family has always been bliss for me. This past weekend we celebrated my niece’s first birthday and we went all out. Ever since I was a small child, my mother has insisted on some sort of themed party. “Strawberries” were in vogue this year. Pink everything, plump mylar balloons, rose-scented candles, and some beautiful flower arrangements. My birthday falls in late November, so my theme was always either Thanksgiving or “Your friends can’t come to your party because they’re traveling with their families for Thanksgiving.” There have been a few serendipitous times when my birthday fell on the War On I-4 for Black Friday. Happened in 2013 and 2019. We won both games; obviously.
Little known fact: my youngest sister and the mother to my niece who we celebrated this weekend graduated from Temple Terrace. My ties to south florida beyond internet smack talk and heated rivalry banter, run a little deeper. There are three of us. Me (Knight), my middle sister (Knight), and our youngest seven years my junior (bull). She’s always walked her path. She wanted to get away a little further than the 36 miles from our childhood home doorstep to her college dorm, as her older siblings did. She’s a drama teacher now and has two children with her husband who she met in Tampa. As I enjoyed having everyone in the house watching college football this past Saturday, chasing my nephew, and calming frosted cupcake sugar rushes, I realized I wouldn’t have the current version of my nephew and niece, had my sister not gone to usf. I laughed to myself realizing how the script of life can reveal some amazing things you never even thought possible. Somehow life surprises you with little joys on paths least unexpected.
This weekend we play the Villanova Wildcats at home for our first weekend home game in the Big 12. An FCS team out of Philadelphia, the “City of Brotherly Love.” Breaking down the word “Philadelphia” is a combination of two Greek words: love (phileo) and brother (adelphos). There is no love lost between me and the city of Philly as a New York sports fan, but I do respect them and have a soft spot for the rivalry and juice it provides. Much like my disdain for the university of south florida. Like all siblings, you will bicker, hold on to a grudge for a bit too long, and come back, mea culpa, hoping to move on from your silliness. Family time brings a dynamic where there can be a shortage of temper or grace when you get together. That’s what I felt this weekend with my sisters and family as we watched college football. The up-and-downs, the passion, the craziness we feel rooting for 19-year-olds wearing the same laundry as us for 4 hours. The anger you feel when people don’t know how to use a coaster.
This Wildcat team is coming in at 2-0, scoring an average of 40 points per game and holding their opponents to 20. I don’t know how much we can take away from this game but I’m excited to see what we got, and start 3-0 in what seems like forever. And you know what, I will take all the dubs against a college basketball blueblood this inaugural Big 12 season we can get; even if it is on the football field.
A little history lesson on vaunted Villanova football. Their first bowl appearance was in 1936. For every PapaJohns.com or Famous Idaho Potato Bowl sponsor name that graces our television screens during the sports moratorium in December, their first bowl game had a badass sponsor: The Bacardi Bowl. This game was played in Havana during the Batista regime under the guise of Cuba’s National Sports Festival. Cuban universities and athletic clubs played American football for over 50 years at the time. The sport’s history on the island predated the first varsity squad at the University of Florida by a year and Cuban elevens competed on the gridiron for more than twenty years before the founding of the University of Miami in Coral Gables. Cuba wanted to be a player on the international stage. Their opponent for the 1936 Bacardi Bowl was interesting too: The Auburn Tigers. Coach Malzahn’s last stomping ground.
The Villanova Wildcats were known to be a stingy defense at the time. They recorded four shutouts and held opponents to no more than seven points. Mind you, the field was littered with plumbers and salesmen on both sides, but they had wins against the likes of Penn State, Boston University, and South Carolina. Different era of college football but still very interesting. College football didn’t truly integrate until the 1970’s by the way. Villanova and Auburn battled to a thrilling 7-7 tie in the 1936 Bacardi Bowl.
Even with my sister having attended usf, there is an apathy that permeates that entire fanbase where she loves her school but doesn’t keep up with their athletics. My nephew only knows Knightro. Reminds me of our late friend, James Reid aka CostSegAdvisor who graduated from south florida for his undergrad and earned his MBA from UCF. When James attended usf, they didn’t have a football program. His first season as a Knights season ticket holder was Daunte’s debut. Talk about “brotherly love,” that’s someone who I miss dearly. Every so often I think about what he’d take away from the game that week. I miss his spicy content on my timeline and just his fellowship. I know he’s watching though.
So where do we go from here? We’re 2-0 a couple weeks into the season and a cloud of uncertainty is over our ahead. We were rolling, putting it all together and now one of our brothers John Rhys is a little dinged. This UCF community is an extension of my family. Have met so many great people and shared incredible memories. Sometimes we need some perspective that these are young, educated men out here representing our university and city with their bodies. Our in-house bickering on Twitter timelines and family group chats can often get wrapped up in hot takes. Maybe we need to bring those down to a simmer. I know it all comes from a good place and passion for what we’ve invested our lives in, but if we’re not having fun while we’re doing it…then what’s the point?
Let us be our brother’s keeper. Let’s support these boys and pray for a curing and enduring spirit. The university of south florida gave me two little blessings I love very dearly. Let’s celebrate the blessing of Timmy McClain’s first start here as a Knight, transferring away from the red walls of waste and coming home to the warm glow of cellphone camera lights turning up and down. Thank God John Rhys just needs a little time to heal and not surgery. He’s a warrior, not a worrier. We know far too familiar the tumultuous journey of recovering from an injury. But with faith, love, and your brother’s unyielding support, amazing things are possible.
Enter stage left, Touchdown Timmy.
The “Hometown Hero” that got lost in the Heup.
It’s time for Bokey’s Big 12 debut.
‘Til next time, take care of yourself and each other.