Fans live and die as teams sink or swim

Freshman Phil Vaglica’s most prized possession is an uncommon one: a piece of grass from the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Heinz Field that he stores in a glass case in his bedroom at home.

Vaglica, whose father is a native of Pittsburgh, is the epitome of a die-hard sports fan.
“My dad’s the reason I started to like them,” he said. “But once I got to know the team better, I started to follow the history of the franchise and the owner.”

For Vaglica, Sundays are devoted to the Steelers. He loves that the team has a blue-collar, hard-working feel and that the franchise has a total community orientation.

This enthusiasm for professional sports is not an uncommon one. Many die-hard fans on campus are eager to talk about their favorite teams.

For junior Chelsii Coffin, an avid Portland Trailblazers supporter, professional basketball is more than just a form of entertainment. Her love for the team has snowballed since the Coffin family purchased season tickets during her junior year of high school.

“I just started going to games with my dad a few years ago, and I just really liked them,” she said. “It’s always a bonding experience when we go.”

Senior Laura Grambo said she enjoys the bonding aspect of sports as well. The Grambo Seahawks Sundays date back to her childhood when her father was a season ticket holder.
Grambo and her three older brothers don’t go to the games as often anymore, but the whole family still watches them on TV together.

“It’s to the point now where we have to sit on separate couches and chairs because we just get so excited,” Grambo said.

One of Vaglica’s greatest memories as a fan is attending the 2005 Steelers playoff game against the New York Jets.

“We were sitting in the endzone as the Jets missed two field goals at the end of the game, right in front of us,” he said. “We just went crazy when they missed them, and I was hugging all of these people I’d never met before.”

Coffin said she enjoys the speed of the NBA and the exhilaration of momentum swings that happen so quickly and often.

Her favorite basketball player is former Blazer Rasheed Wallace, who has come under fire for his on-court antics during Coffin’s time as a fan. However, the bad publicity has not changed her view of professional athletes.

“Obviously, they’re just normal people, and they make mistakes,” Coffin said. “(Wallace is) just very passionate about the game.”

Though she is significantly busier in college compared to high school, Coffin still finds time to make it to Blazer games. She has been to two so far this year, one win and one loss.
For Coffin, the thrill of the game remains, and the experience is still shared with her dad.
“He gets really excited,” she said. “I think he’s mostly excited for me though.”

When Grambo first came to Linfield, she said she had a hard time finding people to watch Seahawks games with her. She said she continued the Grambo routine of ordering pizza and drinking unhealthy amounts Coke, and that entices her roommates and a few others to join her on Sundays.

“Sometimes I’ll call my dad or he’ll call me, and we watch the game together while talking on the phone,” she said.

Her favorite memory as a Seahawks fan came during her sophomore year at Linfield when the team made it to the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history.

Grambo and her brothers, who all live in different states, drove back to Washington to watch the game with their father.

Grambo said she used to get made fun of as a freshman for liking the Seahawks.
“We’ve been saying they were going to go to the Super Bowl since I was 13,” she said. “We’re all pretty hardcore.”