Ram Stadium was home to an uncharacteristic Shepherd loss, Saturday, Sept. 25, but that wasn’t the story to be told of the day. Due to COVID-19 the Shepherd Rams football team never got to take the field for their home crowd in 2020, or at all for that matter.
Fans felt a hankering not only for the hot dogs and burgers that were passed around all morning and afternoon, but also a sense of community and fellowship that tailgates and sports are known for.
Brenden Lewis is a sophomore at Shepherd and a member of the baseball team. He had never experienced a Shepherd football game due to COVID. “It was a great experience,” Lewis said, “It was awesome to see how deep the Shepherd community actually runs besides just the people you see on campus.”
He discussed how COVID affected his freshman year on campus as much as it had affected football, and how he feels the University is doing now. “Things were a lot different. The dining services are more open now and things like this (tailgate/football game) and people being able to play their sport or activity is an amazing thing.”
Lewis added “I feel like the University is in a good spot, they seem to be taking the right precautions and with vaccinations coming out and people learning more, I can just hope we continue on the trend we’re on.” With vaccinations on campus currently sitting at right around 48% and increasing, this trend may allow for more tailgates so community gatherings like this can continue and be a part of normal Shepherdstown fall weekends to come.
Much like Shepherdstown itself, it has been reported that the earliest and most prominent “tailgates” started back in 1861, at the U.S. Civil War’s first major battle, Bull Run. It is said that many people ventured from Washington D.C. down to Manassas, Virginia, where spectators camped out and cheered on their “Team” Union or Confederate.
While I’m sure we can all agree, were much happier cheering over football teams then soldiers in a war, it’s an interesting look back on the heritage of such a joyous occasion. More interesting still, although it’s not proven or recorded that any such actions took place at Antietam, which is less than 5 miles down the road, there is a possibility that people were tailgating almost exactly where we were over 100 years ago. That would be a history lesson I wouldn’t want to miss.
The Shepherd football team is back in action this weekend at Ram Stadium against Shippensburg. The game is at noon on Saturday, Oct. 2. All fans and locals are welcome to come and join the Shepherd community for an afternoon of tailgating and fun.