Everyone has a story. Some people were Maryland Terrapins fans before they came to Maryland; others became fans during their four years in College Park; others never went to UMD; others became fans during the youngest years of "Fear the Turtle." But everyone has a separate, unique story of when they really and truly became a Maryland fan. Those are what we're going to explore today.
I was born in Annapolis and lived there for a few years before beginning a series of moves between Pennsylvania - about an hour outside of Philly - and Virginia - several hours south of DC - before my family finally settled in VA. Because I split time in most of my formative years between a variety of towns and two states, I felt the strongest emotional attachment to Annapolis and Maryland, my birthplaces. I loved everything from my home state, including Terp sports, which proudly advertised the fact that they, like me, were from and represented Maryland.
But I had more influences than that, namely my grandmother. I should mention that almost all of my entire family on one side lives in southwest Virginia. All of them are big Virginia Tech fans, and it always makes family get-togethers uncomfortable when sports come up. Regardless, as a rebellious youngster, being fervent VT fans around me was probably the worst thing they could do to make me a VT fan. But I digress.
My grandmother attended Maryland and rooted for the Terps (she roots for VT as well, sadly); she was the only one I could turn to and not be inundated with Virginia Tech lore. Because I was from Maryland - the only one of her grandchildren from this great state - she sometimes told me stories of her time on campus.
In reality, my grandmother is likely a hardcore fabricator, and I believe she was on campus at Maryland for about two semesters. But her stories, particularly the sports-related ones - her experience of meeting Jack Scarbath on her first day on campus, how she played lacrosse for the Lady Terps, and how she loved watching Bud Millikan coach Gene Shue - absolutely captivated me. The stories made me feel somehow connected to UMD, and certainly did nothing but enhance the way I viewed Maryland and its sports teams.
So when I was figuring out which teams to like in my childhood, probably around 5 years old or so, Maryland was at the forefront. They were my hometown team, and they had become legend through the tales of my grandmother. The more stories my grandmother told me and the more time I spent away from my hometown of Annapolis, the more I came to embrace Maryland, and eventually they became my favorite team in all of sports and I followed them religiously.
In my earliest days of being a Maryland fan, Terps football was...not great. But it was just a few years after Gary Williams arrived in College Park, and things on the basketball front were looking up. Like most of you, it was Maryland basketball that truly got me hooked on Terrapin sports. And like all of you, watching Juan Dixon win Maryland a title was one of the happiest times of my life.
It's safe to say that, outside of my family, and aided by the fact that I'm currently single (ladies?), Maryland sports are the love of my life. And to be associated with them and their fanbase in any way makes me proud of my choice to support them with my full emotional strength.
We'll delve deeper into our fan experiences later. But for now, kick it off: why did you become a Maryland fan?