Although we are now well into the New Year, there is certainly a lot to be proud of when looking back at the fall, especially the final days of 2017 with the Deacs’ appearance in the Belk Bowl.
It’s been a little-known fact that Wake Forest fans fully support their football team when it comes to bowl game appearances, and this year’s Belk Bowl was no exception. With nearly 30,000 fans in attendance, “Go Deacs!” could be heard throughout the streets of Uptown Charlotte in the days leading up to the bowl, as well as the days after. The energy felt over those final days of the year was the culmination of a fantastic fall and a great deal of effort on behalf of our fans, staff and student-athletes.
Most probably don’t realize the level of planning and preparation needed for a bowl game appearance, and I would like to thank our staff for rising to the occasion. With numerous pre-game parties and tailgates, it was clear that there were plenty of opportunities for friends and family to come together from across the country for one purpose: cheering on the Demon Deacons.
On the evening of December 28, there was a fantastic event at Founders Hall in Uptown Charlotte that brought together over 1,000 alumni, family and friends to officially kick off the bowl festivities. Many folks shared with me that their family and friends had either already arrived or would be coming in the morning, which gave me confidence that we would be well-represented on game day.
At the pre-game tailgate at BB&T Ballpark on December 29, the excited anticipation of kickoff quickly escalated as close to 2,000 fans gathered together over food, drinks and plenty of Wake Forest swag. I personally enjoyed seeing many of our former football student-athletes in attendance, including members of the 2006 Orange Bowl team. The stories being shared made me truly appreciate how these important games seem to transcend time, enabling alums and fans alike to relive some of their fondest memories.
Walking from the tailgate to Bank of America Stadium, I was filled with a ton of emotion, realizing that this could be a pivotal win for our program. My confidence level got a huge boost upon arriving to the stadium to find the Wake Forest sections overflowing with cheering fans; meanwhile, our opponent must have marked down the wrong date for the game based on the appearance of their sections! As one donor put it, “Outnumbering and creating more excitement in the stands than an SEC team is no small feat, but having a team like ours that is explosive, resilient and passionate about what they do made it remarkably easy.”
Several of our staff members had great conversations with donors and fans throughout the bowl game festivities, and the comments were truly telling about why Wake Forest fans show up and support these big moments. The consensus seemed to be that Deacon fans show the highest level of gratitude for being invited to bowl games. This is due, in part, to the fact that Wake Foresters don’t take shortcuts, so we recognize and truly appreciate the level of hard work and achievement that it takes to be invited to a bowl game, making us incredibly grateful for the opportunity and eager to show our support.
With a bright future ahead of our football program, I anticipate more bowl game appearances in the years to come and encourage you to do whatever it takes to participate in these special games and the events surrounding them.