The score was 40-0. The area bars were soon to be filled with humbled Tribesmen and exuberant, comically overdressed University of Virginia students. The brave few among us who were seated in the home team section had already repeatedly quoted the recent “Best Colleges” list that had us ranked ahead of UVa. Losing had lost its ironic charm; this was going to be a very different experience than the last football trip to Charlottesville.
Then, launched like a thunderbolt from Zeus, Drake Kuhn’s 34-yard field goal dribbled over the front crossbar. The green and gold section of the stadium thundered in jubilation, and the faint hum of the College pep band could be detected. At that moment, I was reminded of why we had come.
At the College, we support the team, but we do not let it define us. It seems to me that we have always treated winning as a genuinely exciting thing — neither a shocking surprise nor a given fact. Most of the students I saw afterward had roughly the same expressions moods, and outlooks on life after this game that they had after the game two years ago — especially once we hit the bars! (Kidding.) This game, like the last, was a chance to celebrate our school and our team despite the fact that we were playing against a school that devotes far more resources, scholarships and emotional attention to its football program.
Whether we see our mascot as the Griffin or the colonial re-enactors with muskets, the defining message of William and Mary football is that we do not take ourselves too seriously. This does not mean that we’re imbued with a sense of defeat. The truth is that we’re expected to win our conference this year, and we have a legendary coach who is widely reputed to be someone who runs an athletic program the right way. But if the season does not turn out the way the analysts predict, our campus won’t have an identity crisis, and we won’t abandon our athletes. The students who go to games will still go to the games, whether as a novelty or a weekly rite.
The game was certainly tough to swallow at times, but we have the benefit of being the perennial underdog. While most bow tie-wearing UVa. fans will forget the result of last night’s drubbing within a week, we can revive the glory days of 2009’s 26-14 victory easily for the next 60 years. In fact, it was the possibility of losing 40-3 that made our victory so thrilling in 2009. Let’s not allow Saturday’s game to make us apathetic or despondent about our sports. Let’s treat them as the modest, entertaining attractions that the College molds them to be. Whatever we do, let’s not become UVa.