Fans geared up for first home matchup

It’s the feeling of being at a Rattler football game. Anyone who has been there may understand just what it is. The one that comes with the smoke emanating from grills in the parking lot during the celebrated tailgate parties. The feeling that comes along with buying one of the hundreds of t-shirts with Florida A&M University pride scrawled across the front.

It’s the feeling of being a true Rattler fan — and there is nothing like it.

“At the tailgate, the energy is so high,” said Dawn Patrick. The 21-year-old from Indianapolis knows a thing or two about being a true Rattler fan. She is the head of the FAMU Rattler Strike Team.

“The members of our (executive) board have been on the Strike Team from the very first day, and it’s been great,” Patrick said.When the Strike Team was first introduced to FAMU in 2003, they had one mission in mind.

“We really just wanted to support our Rattlers,” Patrick said. And that is the natural decree of a Florida A&M enthusiast. Just ask Mickey Clayton of the FAMU Rattler Boosters Association.

“Our main goal is to provide financial support to the athletic department, but we also look to support the team.” Clayton said.

The Rattler football team will look for that support in its home opener on Saturday against the Winston-Salem State Rams.”Well, everyone has their own ritual before the game. You see people with their family going to see the game. You have the tailgate parties — it’s a lot of fun,” Clayton said.

With all the celebration going on before the game, it might be easy to forget what’s going on inside Bragg Stadium. But come kickoff, a sea of orange and green shirts and pom-poms find their way into the stands

“We try and keep our energy the same before, during and after the game,” Patrick said.

“We always look forward to getting crunk for the game. We are always going to try our hardest to make sure our Rattlers play well,” Patrick said.

With the fans in the stands on Saturday afternoons, the Rattlers may have that extra “umph” to go out and play their best.

“We like to be able to feel like we are able to make a difference,” Patrick said.

While many fans who file into Bragg Stadium do bleed orange and green, there are some who use the Marching 100’s overture as a signal to head to the parking lot.

“I have talked to players, and they have said how much they hate when fans leave after halftime,” said Student Government Association Student Body President Phillip B. Agnew.

“When the fans leave the team morale is decreased,” Agnew said.

“We want to support our Rattlers whether they are up by 30 (points) or down by 20 (points),” Patrick said.

“When the fans are there for the team, it can be better than any amount of Gatorade or water. They put in hours of hard work, and we should encourage them,” Agnew said.