Franklin Norton , Social Media Manager

Growing up, sports were never really my thing. I played soccer up until high school, but traded that out to run cross country and track over the next four years. I loved being a part of a team, and I loved the thrill of competition. But I knew that I never really had any passion for athletics, and I never really understood why it was a passion for so many people. It wasn’t until high school, on a football Friday night, that I realized something: this matters.

Friday nights were the highlights of my week. All my friends and classmates would be in one place, and for at least one night of the week, all of us in that student section had one thing in common: we wanted our team to win. By my senior year, I was so attached to our sports teams that I would celebrate our victories as if they were my own, and view a loss from the stands with tears in my eyes, in collective disappointment with my peers.

It’s no secret that Marshall football is important to the Huntington community. In so many ways, it may just be the heartbeat. Our football program, and subsequently the community as a whole, is marked in history as one of tragedy and adversity. In this same span though, we are marked in history as overcomers, and every time the Thundering Herd takes to the field, we are reminded of that.

This weekend is the first home game at the Joan, and on Saturday, the familiar energy that surrounds a Herd home game will sweep throughout the campus and city. Downtown will be buzzing with traffic and tailgates, with crowds pouring into the stadium to cheer on our team. Freshmen students will be outfitted in green for their first time as one of the herd, and seniors will be gearing up for their final football season. Alumni will come back to their roots, and young people will come and dream of one day becoming a part of the Marshall story.

In a society that feels like it’s becoming increasingly individualistic, it is a football game that will bring our community together. We will know our neighbors. We will reconnect with old friends and meet new ones. Grandparents will bring their grandchildren, passing a love of the Herd through a generational gap. For this one day, we can all come together and have one thing in common: we want our team to win. In a world saturated with selfies and selfishness, there is a special power in the words “We are…”

Franklin Norton can be contacted at [email protected]