My story starts with a confession.
During my impressionable teen years, I was a hardcore Duck fan. Before you persecute me, understand that this is a difficult admission. I was in high school when Joey Harrington was leading the Duck football team and the Lukes were the state’s famed basketball duo. My brother was going to school at the U of O as well, filling my head with his fond memories of attending football games at Autzen.
I wasn’t the kind of Duck fan that just hated the Beavers, though. When the Beavers weren’t playing the Ducks I rooted for them to do well, too. Often times I would even walk down the hallways of my high school as a walking contradiction, wearing a Ducks football T-shirt while donning a Beaver beanie hat.
When it came down to choosing a college, Oregon State made the most sense as it provided the most options for me academically. I was such a huge Duck fan that before heading off to college I told my family I would still root for the Ducks. What is even harder for me to admit now is that I rooted for the Ducks to win the first couple of football Civil Wars while I was attending Oregon State.
My transition to becoming a Beaver fan began my sophomore year at OSU when I joined the basketball pep band. While the basketball teams were not very good during my time there, I bonded with a group of like-minded band nerds as we played and cheered for our teams. We heckled the opposing coaches to sit every moment they stood. Our tuba player utilized the “truffle shuffle” to distract free throw shooters. And then on the Civil War game, we dressed up as duck hunters.
Participating in the basketball band that year led me to join the marching band the following year. There we rallied behind a Beavers team that took down a #3 ranked USC in front of a packed Reser stadium and pull off a nail-biting victory in the Sun Bowl to cap a ten win season. I remember being torn heading into the Civil War game that year, but I fully embraced being on the Beaver side of the rivalry for the first time. My brother was fortunate enough to use my student ID and ticket to get into the game and we proceeded to heckle each other back and forth. Every big Duck play he would run down from his seat to come down the band aisle to taunt me. If my memory serves me right, that’s the only time I’ve flipped my brother off.
In the four years I went to Oregon State, the football team won three bowl games and the baseball team won two national titles. I met my future wife while living in the dorms and I received a quality education that prepared me well for my graduate program. As you can probably guess, my time was very well spent in Corvallis.
It is now a tradition for my wife and I to attend an away Beaver football game every year or two. This has become a great opportunity to explore new cities and what they have to offer. We have traveled to Phoenix, Ann Arbor, Minneapolis, and soon Fort Collins. That Ann Arbor trip was a special one as it was a bucket list item for me to visit the Big House, and to watch my Alma Mater play there made it even more special.
I guess the short answer to “why are you an Oregon State fan?” could be “because I went there”. But there’s so much more to it than that. It changed me, helped shape me to who I am today. Call my story an “identity crisis”. Just don’t call me a Duck fan anymore.