If there’s one thing that unifies Northwestern students, it’s football season. It’s hard to avoid (even if you wanted to) the overwhelming Wildcat pride, the packed tailgates, and the atmosphere of anticipation on game days. Whether it’s the flood of tweets and statuses that takes over your dashboard on game day or the tide of sound from the packed student section of Ryan Field, students are definitely affected by game day. Football isn’t all about the players on the field (although we couldn’t have it without them); every NU student who comes out sporting their purple pride is contributing to the contagious atmosphere that makes football season so fun.
But how do you make the best of your game day? Here’s a look at what comes before we make our way to Ryan Field:
While maybe we’d like to pretend that every bit of game day excitement comes from a scored touchdown, everyone knows that hanging out, eating, (and drinking) with friends before games is an essential part of the game day experience. But one thing has changed this year in the usual pre-game plans: it’s called Fitzerland and it’s a chance to bring it all together.
Kevin Harris, Emma Svoboda, Kyle Allen-Niesen, and Mary Felder enjoying the Fitzerland festivities.
In an email to students at the beginning of September, the administration described Ftizerland as “a BYO tailgate- a chance to bring the NU student community together,” where free food and merch from Wildside would be provided and students could gather together rather than retreating off campus. And it looks like they were right- this collective tailgate, located on the practice fields immediately north of Ryan Field, seem to be a hit for students.
“Fitzerland is an awesome idea,” said Kevin Harris, a Weinberg sophomore. “It’s right next to the stadium so it’s easy to get to the game and it’s also better from a safety standpoint because no one’s off on their own. The best part in addition to all of that is that you get to hang out with all of your friends in one place- you don’t have to choose- and it’s definitely a community atmosphere.”
Weinberg sophomore Ajay Bakshani agreed that Fitzerland is a step in the right direction for Northwestern. “It’s essentially the concept of the more the merrier. I also think it definitely improves the community.” Bakshani said.
This past Saturday, Fitzerland proved that it could withstand even the gloomy prospect of bad weather. Northwestern students still made their way to the tailgates through the rain and wind for the homecoming game against Ohio State and even stuck it out with spirit when tailgating was moved into Welsh Ryan. I can say from personal experience that the atmosphere proved just as fun even when the weather wasn’t. Huddling together with friends, old and new, while cookouts and conversations continued made the day one to remember.
“I met some really cool people there and bonded with my friends,” said Ellen Lawrence, a Weinberg sophomore. “Those are the kind of memories I’ll share with my family someday.”
Even more important than the fun Fitzerland provides, it shows that nothing can beat the Northwestern community when we’re all together to be there for our team, and also for each other.