2 years, 6 months, and 7 days. That's how long I have been serving in the United States Navy. From Boot Camp and Hospital Corps School in Great Lakes, IL (Or Great Mistakes, depending on who you ask) to Field Medical Training Battalion in Camp Pendleton, CA, to Naval Hospital Bremerton in Bremerton, WA. Though I have never been deployed I have seen a few things and done plenty in my short time in the service. And whether it was Bears fans in Chicago, to Chargers and Raiders fans in San Diego, to Seahawks, Ducks, Huskies, and even a few Cougar fans in Seattle, I’ve seen my share of fan bases as well. But no matter where I’ve been in my travels, no matter what school or pro team may hold claim to the area, there has always been someone to return the I-O to my O-H.
I’ve spent so much time away from home that I almost forget what it is like to be surrounded by people who root for the same teams as I do. Whenever I wear anything to rep the Buckeyes outside of Ohio, I almost always see a sneer; hear a snicker, or a rude comment. I’ve always thought that Ohio State had replaced Notre Dame as the team that EVERYONE loves to hate in College Football, and it’s a fact that has always annoyed me, but yet at the same time gives me a swagger and real boost in my pride, because that means that obviously Ohio State (players and fans alike) have been doing something right.
I am a Buckeye born and bred until I’m dead, and I’m damn proud to say I’m from the great State of Ohio. I know a lot of people back home who don’t like Ohio, who in fact hate it and everything about it, and I ask why? What is there not to love about this state? There is so much greatness imbedded in Ohio and many people fail to realize it. From giving us seven presidents, tied with Virginia for most presidents from one state, to the Wright Brothers, who gave us flight, to the many astronauts who have gone where very few dare dream, there is so much about the state of Ohio to love but nothing compares to THE Ohio State University.
When you’re away from home for a long time, you are allowed the gift of hindsight, to look back on what you’ve left behind, and you realize how much you miss what you don’t have any more. With me, it’s always been Ohio. Whether it is the home of my friends and family, where I spent my summers playing basketball and getting into mischief, to the autumns where we played backyard football and admirably watched our Buckeyes play. The winters where we had snowball fights and sled rides, to the springs where we picked up right where we left off the summer before, my memories of my home state will always be ones of love and friendship.
Ohio, and Ohio State - to me - is more than just a state and a university, they are an identity, and badges of honor that I will proudly wear till the day I die. I'll continue to wear them in whatever afterlife there may be awaiting us all. And to me, nothing better represents the Buckeye State than Ohio State itself. From The Best Damn Band in the Land and Script Ohio (which celebrated its 75 year anniversary against Wisconsin this year) to the men donning the sacred colors of the Scarlet and Gray every fall Saturday, to the singing of Carmen Ohio after every game in one of College Football’s most legendary temples, Ohio Stadium. The Horseshoe. My closet is filled mostly with Scarlet and Gray (with a few brown and orange and wine and gold) and my heart beats O-H…I-O with every beat, my blood runs thick with Scarlet and Gray, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Watching the Buckeyes take the field is a thrill and a blessing, and I thank God that he made me an Ohioan, and most especially a Buckeye. Whenever they lose, it feels like a part of me has died. When they win, I feel alive again, and filled with hope. A hope that someday, I might be able to see a National Champion in Columbus again, like I did a decade ago. Ohio State is a diverse school that welcomes people from across the country and the world. From current football players such as Michael Brewster (Florida native), Garrett Goebel (Illinois native), Andrew Sweat (Pennsylvania native), to Buckeyes past such as James Laurinaitis (Minnesota native), Cameron Heyward (Georgia native) and Craig Krenzel (Michigan native) every student and faculty member that steps foot on that campus is a Buckeye no matter where they came from, and to a degree (no pun intended) that makes me truly jealous.
I long for the day I can once again set foot on that campus, not just as a fan, but as a student. I dream of the day I can say I am a student at THE Ohio State University. To have that diploma is my motivation, my dream. But does the lack of being a student at Ohio State make one any less of a Buckeye? Hell no. It’s all in the heart; it’s the love and belief that there is no place better, no team you’d rather root for, no matter where in this world you are, whether in Bremerton, WA, or Fallujah, Iraq and back again to old Columbus town. It’s that undying love and passion that you grew up with, or learned to love.
In being away from home, I have truly learned to love Ohio State and the State of Ohio even more than I ever thought possible. I look at fans from other fan bases, and it truly gives me chills knowing how blessed I am to root for the Scarlet and Gray because to me, there is no other team worthy of so much praise and adoration. I know you may think I’m crazy, that the love I have for my home and my Buckeyes is too much, well to you, I have nothing to say. I’m damn proud of my allegiances, and I will not change for anything or anybody. Ever.
There are certain things in this world that people need to keep themselves together, to give them just another reason to thank God that you are indeed still around, and mine is the fact that I am a Buckeye. I am a Buckeye, I always have been and always will be, and God willing my children and theirs will continue on supporting the Scarlet and Gray long after I'm gone.
I am a firm believer that everyone needs something to believe in. I believe in Ohio State and in the State of Ohio, and no matter where I go in this world, no matter who I may meet or what team is around, I will always represent Ohio State. I will always represent Ohio, and I will always return that O-H with a loud and extremely proud I-O.