“What drew you to Miami? Other than the weather,” people ask all the time.
Good question. I have to think about that myself from time to time.
For those of you who read State of The U, you know that there is a vast array of different writers and different backgrounds that each of us comes from. Some of us were born Hurricane fans and have always bleed orange and green. Others of us ended up as University of Miami students because they got denied from their top choice school. Some of the writers in our great community didn’t even go to Miami at all.
I am currently a UM student, going into my junior year. The U was my top choice going into my college application process, not because I had been raised in a UM household. The Hurricanes had been a part of my college sports consumption diet, but I also watched other teams, such as Michigan and Vanderbilt, as my parents has attended grad school in Ann Arbor and I grew up in Nashville.
When it comes to schools and sports teams, it’s easy to think the best ones are the ones we grew up with, because we all have bias, and let’s face it, we’re human. Of course New Yorkers think New York is the best city, and good luck trying to convince a person from New Jersey that Bruce Springsteen isn’t the best artist of the 70s/80s. We all love what we grow up with, and that is great.
But the University of Miami is the greatest school, and the Miami Hurricanes are the perfect program, because someone like me who may not necessarily have grown up with either, went out into the world and found out that Miami is the best, without any prior emotional or parental attachment guiding me to South Florida. I independently determined that Coral Gables was home.
Now it is unfair to say I was flying completely radar blind when I found UM, because I did and still do have non-immediate family (such as my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins) located all over parts of Tri-County South Florida, so I was familiar with parts of the area. But I was far from the kid who grew up with the Ken Dorsey signed poster in his room like many of my friends at school.
A combination of the weather, the 30 for 30 documentary, the attractiveness of the Miami area, academics (yes Mom and Dad, that DOES mean a lot to me) and the fact I that wanted to impress people back home by going to the school where swagger was invented all influenced me to apply early decision to UM. It also helped that South Florida is an urban area and I’m a total city slicker, and wanted to avoid living in a small college town for four years.
So that meant on the night of Friday, December 16, 2016, when I opened my Miami acceptance letter to indescribable joy and excitement, I had just months to learn decades of UM Football and athletics. Challenge was accepted.
And I fell in love with my favorite team quickly. Even though I had just been accepted into the university, being a Miami Hurricane felt natural, as if I was always meant to be a Cane. I watched each old game on YouTube, like the end of Miami-Duke in 2015, Miami-Florida in 2000, 2002, and 2003, Miami-Nebraska in 1983-84, and my favorite, Miami-FSU in 2000.
I briefed myself on each NFL ProCane and the recent state of the basketball program, most notably the 2012-2013 ACC Championship Season. I also learned that the Men’s Tennis team went on an NCAA all-sport, record-high 137-match winning streak from 1957-64, a record that is certain to stand in permanent immortality.
My favorite Hurricanes player, both before and after my acceptance, was Corn Elder. UM (rightfully) has always been focused on locking down South Florida in recruiting, but that often means that other parts of the country go without much attention from Miami’s coaches, which includes my native Nashville. Elder is the only Middle Tennesseean to my knowledge to have worn The U on his helmet on autumn Saturdays, so naturally he became a favorite of mine. To me, the current Carolina Panther is still the player who rushed for 405 yards in a game for Ensworth High School against a defense led by Jalen Ramsey and future Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl hero Derek Barnett.
It goes without saying that his game-winning score against Duke in 2015 was one of the greatest moments I can remember in all of sports. My only regret was that he graduated before I made it to campus.
While I never got to see Corn, I did get to see Drake on campus and College Gameday. I also get the joy of going to the beach in January and sending pictures of 80 degree days by the pool to my family and friends in February.
I don’t think there is anything like being a Miami Hurricane. Walking through random cities, shopping malls, airports, etc around the country and the world, sporting the orange and green U, might be the best and protest feeling in the world.
Miami has been a place I now proudly call home, almost an adopted hometown for me. When I’m away from the campus and city for too long, I’ll miss both. I’ll also miss football season when its been away for too long, even the 85 degree, 80 percent humidity afternoons that come with it.