Jennifer L. Grubbs: Memories fuel fans' team passion

Jennifer L. Grubbs

Jennifer L. Grubbs' "I on Life" column appears Tuesdays in the Craig Daily Press. E-mail her at jgrubbs@craigdailypress.com

On Monday, Broncos spirit was on overdrive in Craig.

And rightly so, since the Boys & Girls Club of Craig hosted the Broncos Mania event.

There were plenty of fans of all ages at the event, with a mini bus bringing people from the assisted living facility, school buses and parents bringing children and plenty of adults driving themselves to the club.

When they got there, they found a gym that had been transformed into a Broncos fan's heaven, complete with two Super Bowl trophies, cheerleaders, plenty of posters, photos and fliers, Miles, the mascot, and a whole lot spirit.

I, too, am a Broncos fan, and though I have only lived here for nearly two months, it's been obvious why Craig was chosen as one of the Broncos' top fan cities. It's been truly amazing for me to see just how much team pride this city has - and shows.

My love of the Broncos is something that was instilled in me as a child. My grandfather was a season-ticket holder throughout my childhood. I remember every Sunday that we were in Denver, Grandpa and Dad or one of my great-uncles would bundle up, pack a cooler (which still was allowed then), wipe down the lenses on the binoculars and head off for the Broncos Ride RTD bus that would take them from Grandpa's house to Mile High Stadium - and not Invesco Field at Mile High, either.

Quite a few times, Grandpa took me to the game. We'd take the bus together, walk down from the bus stop, stand in line and walk up and around and around at the stadium until we got to our seats, which were in a great location about halfway up the first level behind the goal posts on one end of the field. It was incredible to be there in the crowd, among the sea of orange and blue.

Grandpa would buy me a hot dog and maybe some cotton candy. We'd share the other snacks we brought, like Cracker Jacks and granola bars and cans of Pepsi. Grandpa would have a beer, and we would wait for the game to begin. Once it did, we'd trade off using the binoculars and watching on the jumbo screen. If the Broncos scored, we'd cheer like crazy; if the other team scored, we'd quiet down or boo or follow what the rest of the crowd was doing.

I remember getting caught up in the regular game cheers, such as "D-fense, D-fense," and I always had to have one of those foam hands proclaiming the team to be "No. 1" for cheering.

Not much has changed at football games from when I went with Grandpa 15 to 20 years ago. You still can see the people at the Broncos games on TV wearing their orange and blue, waving foam hand cutouts proclaiming the team to be No. 1, and there is definitely chanting of "D-fense" and "Let's go, Broncos, let's go!"

Yet, everything has changed. I will never get to go to a game with Grandpa again, as he died last spring. I will never get to go to a game at Mile High Stadium again, as it no longer exists.

However, I have been to Broncos games at the new (it still feels new) stadium. There was plenty of excitement and I enjoyed the games. After all, I'm a fan.

And I will always have the memories of the games with Grandpa to look back on.

That's why events such as Monday's Broncos Mania event are so important: the memories that are formed.

Children who went to this event with their parents or grandparents will be able to look back years from now and remember what it was like to see the Super Bowl trophies, meet the cheerleaders and hug Miles, the mascot. They may keep and cherish the signed photos and fliers. They will likely remember the gym at Boys & Girls Club of Craig and how much fun it was to be there that day.

Getting from Craig to Denver to go to a game is significantly more involved - and expensive - than it was for my family to get to Denver from Sterling in the 1980s and '90s. But the memories of spending time with family and watching the game together, whether at home or at Grandpa's house on TV or in person at Mile High, are what stick in my head and make me feel like I was part of something bigger.

And the Broncos Mania event will be that for Craig's children, too.

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