I was planning on writing this piece on Fathers Day, but just didn’t have it in me at that time. If you’ve been following me on social media, you’re probably aware that my father unexpectedly passed away two weeks ago. Now, I'm not here to publish a piece on how sad this time has been, but instead, give a tribute, and say thank you to my dad.
My father unexpectedly died this morning. I don’t even know what to say. He was my greatest role model, and taught me everything I know. I will see you again someday. I love you. I’m gonna make you so proud. I promise you that. Everything is for you now pic.twitter.com/8IYNKrYUGs— Marsh Thomas (@hurricanesmarsh) June 17, 2020
Growing up in South Florida, my father became a Miami Hurricanes fan in the 1980’s, right when UM was becoming a national power in college football. Rooting for the Dallas Cowboys, and with the Miami Heat not even coming to the area for a few more years, the Canes were my fathers only connection to South Florida when it came to sports teams.
My father grew up in Hollywood, Florida. He was the biggest Canes fan I knew, and raised me going to games in the Orange Bowl. He loved South Florida with all his heart. Miami forever pic.twitter.com/fOhE8csIm5— Marsh Thomas (@hurricanesmarsh) June 22, 2020
He grew up going to games in the Orange Bowl, and especially recounts being in the OB when the Houston Cougars came to town in 1991, and says the loudest Canes game he ever went to was against Washington in 2001.
So it was only right, being the fanatical Miami fan that he was, that he’d bring up his sons to follow in his footsteps. In 2002, my father took me to my first UM game when I was only seven years old. As fate would have it, the first game I attended was against Florida State, in the classic “Wide Left” matchup.
Doing home house cleaning, found these old Canes tickets. 2001 vs Washington, 05 vs Duke (Hester game), 07 vs A&M, 06 vs Va Tech pic.twitter.com/RqfYkLaZ7a— Marsh Thomas (@hurricanesmarsh) July 24, 2019
The first game I remember really watching was against Ohio State in the infamous Fiesta Bowl. He carried me to my bed after that game while I was in tears, and he still would apologize to me years later for making me stay up late to watch it.
From then on, I was hooked. We started going to the games regularly in 2004, waking up early every Saturday in the fall. If it was a home game, we’d make our way to the Orange Bowl hours before kickoff to set up tailgating, and if Miami was on the road, we’d pick up wings from Ricky’s in Hollywood, and watch from our TV.
Dad just sent me this picture. Last game at the OB pic.twitter.com/9iXJkOrJpp— Marsh Thomas (@hurricanesmarsh) April 10, 2019
Even in a time period where the Canes weren’t very good, my father would watch every game with me. He was there with me in the final game at the OB against Virginia in 2007, he flew my family and I out to Chicago in 2012, and for my 18th birthday present, we sat in the cold at Soldier Field and watched the Hurricanes get demolished by Notre Dame.
Speaking of Chicago, throwback picture. Miami vs Notre Dame at Soldier Field. Game was on my 18th birthday. Canes lost about 88-3 pic.twitter.com/pvQYVSCIzc— Marsh Thomas (@hurricanesmarsh) May 15, 2020
When Miami was in the Orange Bowl against Wisconsin in 2017, my father simply said, “we have to go.” And we did, booking last-minute flights from Utah, and even though the Canes didn’t win, it was still a memorable time.
Orange Bowl two years ago today pic.twitter.com/IJshhpoHtI— Marsh Thomas (@hurricanesmarsh) December 31, 2019
Last August, he flew down to Orlando for the weekend, even though he had work responsibilities, hung out with Canes fans on Friday night, and tailgated all day Saturday for the Miami-Gators game. And I'll never forget, sitting in Camping World Stadium well after the game ended, and he listened to me rant about Miami’s offensive line, and how we should’ve won the game, he just kept telling me, “calm down son, they’ll be back.”
Mom and pops chillin with Warren Sapp at the tailgate pic.twitter.com/zbR8ofqIAz— Marsh Thomas (@hurricanesmarsh) August 25, 2019
He’s the reason why I forfeited going into pre-law, and instead started studying sports journalism, because he knew that’s what I loved. He was there when I covered my first Canes game in 2018, waiting outside the gates of Hard Rock Stadium after the postgame interviews had been done. Last summer, when I came up with the idea to make a countdown of the top-100 plays in Hurricanes history, my father dedicated an entire weekend and sat down with me and came up with the list.
One of the reasons why I love that we’re doing this top 100 list is because my dad sat down with me last weekend and helped me create it. The man raised me a Canes fans, and was so excited to help make this list. Miami is family y’all! Hope y’all like the countdown https://t.co/3aoC94cg0W pic.twitter.com/IWRzLKAjYQ— Marsh Thomas (@hurricanesmarsh) May 17, 2019
So dad, thank you. Thank you for raising me in South Florida, thank you for letting me experience the Orange Bowl, and thank you for raising me to be a fan of the Miami Hurricanes.