First I would like to introduce myself to Seminole Nation. My name is David Crossan. I am twenty years old, and I'm from Ironton, Ohio. I am attending Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia. I was born in Jacksonville, Florida. I lived in Jacksonville for the first few years of my life, up until my parents split up. My dad has been in the Navy for twenty-two years and is still on active-duty today. He has been based in Jacksonville at Naval Station Mayport for the majority of my life. On the other hand, both my mom and dad's family have always lived in Ohio and West Virginia. My mother and I moved back to Ohio to live with our family after the divorce.
I want to share with all the fans my experiences as a true Florida State Seminole! To be honest, I'm not exactly sure what drove me to be the FSU fan that I am today? I obviously know now, but when I was three I was rockin' the "Garnet and Gold" as if I were old enough to understand why. The only thing I can refer back to at this point is that my cousin was the only other Seminole in my family. The rest of the family was supporting the Buckeyes. I hear so much about Ohio State, now I wish I still lived in Florida.
As a kid, you can only remember so much. I remember specifics though, and most of my greatest memories as a child, both good and bad, included Florida State. In the '98 National Championship I remember watching the game with my mom in her bedroom. After the game, my uncle Joe called the house and asked to speak to me. I knew what was coming; I was so frustrated. I answered the phone, and the first thing I hear is, "Dunnnn dun dunna nuh nuh," which was intended to mimic the Warchant. The next thing my uncle said was along the lines of, "David, do you need a box of tissues?" I hung up.
After the '99 National Championship I made sure my uncle and the rest of the family knew who won. I was in 4th grade at the time and I remember wearing my Florida State jacket to school the next day. In '00 after our loss to Oklahoma I didn't want to go to school. We watched that "Channel 1" news that most schools seemed to watch in those days, and of course they had to show the highlights from the National Championship. My classmates decided to laugh about it and point at me, which did not go to well.
I have always hated to lose at anything, but when Florida State lost you would think I was on the roster. Everything about Florida State football caught my attention and I loved the traditions. Watching them on TV, hearing the Marching Chiefs play the fight song and the Warchant, watching Bobby Bowden along the sidelines, and listening to Gene Deckerhoff's play-by-play. Nothing was more exciting than watching the Noles play on Saturday's- if only I could see them in person. That was one of my dreams as a kid. I didn't care where or when as long as I got to see them play.
My opportunity came in '03 against Clemson. My cousin drove me to South Carolina to watch the Noles finally play. I believe we were ranked #2 or #3 in the nation at the time. I was so cocky come game day. I didn't think we could lose, especially after beating Clemson so many times before that. The final score was 26-10. Darnell Dockett was ejected from that game from a horrible call. Some might remember the game. He was pushed in the back by another Clemson player, which forced Darnell forward into another Clemson player knocking the opposing player over. The officials only saw that part. I use that excuse to this day as to why we lost that game. I didn't say another word after the game or the entire trip home. I was speechless. I had a lump in my throat and felt the urge to cry. That was my least favorite personal experience though.
With that being said, my three favorite personal experiences are irreplaceable and nearly indescribable; they were dreams-come-true.
My first experience came in the summer of '01 when I went to visit my dad in Jacksonville. Several years after I was born, I had made my first trip back to Florida. The one thing I asked my dad before I went to visit is if he would take me to Tallahassee. He promised me that he would. After a week or so in Jacksonville, we left early morning for Tallahassee to visit Doak Campbell Stadium. We arrived at the stadium and everything was surreal. I didn't believe it. We walked in and the first thing I did was call my mom from a payphone inside. I remember her being happy for me and thanking my dad. I remember her telling him that if he was to do anything to make me happy that taking me to see Doak Campbell was the best thing possible.
My second experience came in '02 or '03 when it was announced on the radio that Bobby Bowden would make a trip to Huntington, West Virginia. Bowden would be speaking at the Cam Henderson Center (Marshall's basketball gym) to speak about football and Christianity. I begged my mom to take me, and she pretty much had to. This was a once in a lifetime experience. I bought his book "The Bowden Way" and stood in line for about an hour to get his autograph and to hopefully get a picture taken (although Marshall made it clear no pictures would be allowed due to the time restraints). It's finally my turn in line, and I felt the presence of a hall-of-famer sitting at a table about to sign my book. He shook my hand and complimented my FSU necklace. I just stood there in awe. I had no idea what to do or say, except to smile. My mom then asked if I could get a picture with him, and he agreed. He was more than polite about it, and that's just the kind of person coach Bowden is. Since then, coach Bowden has been a role-model for me. He demonstrates the values of God, family, and competitiveness. That's hall-of-fame in itself. Coach Bowden always cared about his players personally, which I think is the most important aspect of coaching.
My third and greatest experience as a Seminole thus far came this past season on November 27, 2010. I attended the Florida State vs. Florida game at Bobby Bowden Field at Doak Campbell Stadium. My greatest dream was to just see Florida State play at home in general. I definitely did not think I would get the chance to see them play Florida. However, back in the early spring I could not pass up the opportunity to purchase the tickets. I was on Seminoles.com when I ran across a ticket special that offered three home game tickets. These tickets included BYU, Boston College, and Florida. The price was about $156 for all three, and I thought to myself "where can I get a ticket to the Florida game for $156"? I immediately bought them.
After the semester at Marshall had began, there were times where I had to pass up buying groceries, gas, and doing things with my friends on the weekends to save money for my trip to Tallahassee. I also didn't buy a few books that I needed for the semester until after the game. I was scared to death that I was going to be broke and not be able to make it to the game. I did everything I could to make sure I had enough money to last for a weekend in Florida. I actually bought two sets of tickets, because I had hoped to find a friend or family member to go with me. My aunt who lives in Jacksonville thankfully took the time off to make the trip.
I flew to Florida by myself on a Friday, and on Saturday morning I was up at 6:00 a.m. ready to go. Tallahassee is only a two hour drive from Jacksonville, but I didn't mind being there early. When we arrived in Tallahassee I was speechless and amazed once again. It's an indescribable feeling you know? This was something I had waited for a majority of my life for. When we got there I was able to see the Moore Athletic Center, Sod Cemetery, and Al Dunlap practice field. Everything was amazing to me though, knowing that some of the greatest athletes at Florida State used to walk the same grounds that I was on. Names like Sanders, Dunn, Weinke, Warrick, Rolle, Cromartie, Ward, Boldin, M. Jones, Brooks, Booker, Boulware, Dockett, Hope, McFadden, Dugans, Timmons, Sims, Thorpe, Brown, etc. etc. I still can't describe how I feel about my experience at that game though. Words simply cannot show how much that game meant to me.
The atmosphere of the game was overwhelming itself. Before the game I had the chance to meet Chief Osceola and I was able to see Renegade from a few feet away. That was a great feeling as well knowing that I took a picture with one of the most intimidating and richest traditions in all of college football. I wanted to hold the spear and pretend I was throwing it into the ground, but I was afraid to ask...LOL. That would have been an awesome profile picture for Facebook though. I also met Ryan Sprague inside the bookstore and had the chance to talk to him for a few minutes. I remembered him and his days at FSU. He was one tough tight end.
Anyway, once the game ended I was just overjoyed and was really hoping the fans would rush the field just so I could meet some of the players. I managed to squeeze into the front row though at the end. I was only 10 rows up anyhow from the corner of the end zone. Players started to celebrate and making runs around the field, and I was just praying a few of them would make their way to my side; then came along Greg Reid. I think I called his name about 500 times. He finally made his way to me and I told him I came from Ohio, and I made sure he heard me. He gave me a handshake and was celebrating at the same time. He had a few celebrative words, but I won't repeat them. That moment was great as well. Greg Reid shook my hand. He's going to be a first round draft pick in the future. He will also go down as one of Florida State's best all-time players.
When leaving the game my aunt and I ran into Zebrie Sanders. He's from Dayton, Ohio and he was reppin' a state championship shirt from his high school days, which looked pretty cool in the picture I had taken with him. In the last seven meetings between the Noles and the Gators, I think I picked the right one to go to.
I would love to find a copy of the whole game so I can have it on video for the rest of my life to share it with my friends and family. I want to share this video with Seminoles.com for all the Seminole fans to see. It's nothing big, but just part of my experience from the game.
Thank you Seminoles.com for letting me share my story with you and the fans. I hope that many can respect my admiration for the Noles and hopefully some can relate to this as well. I was fortunate enough to finally make it to a game and if it weren't for that three game ticket special I probably wouldn't have been lucky enough to go. To all the students at Florida State, you're very fortunate to attend such a great campus and be a part of a tradition that some wish they had the opportunity to do so, so start taking advantage of the football games and all athletic events at Florida State. Just remember there are thousands of other fans out there that would love to have that kind of opportunity! Thank you Seminoles.com once again! I hope to share more with you in the future!