There is something inexplicable about the first time you experience something, especially when the anticipation of it has gained momentum and you can barely contain your excitement. These are the kind of moments that imprint on our core, that spark our passions, and motivate us in ways we couldn’t have imagined. These are the times when stories are born, memories are made, and life is good.
On September 5, 2012 we arrived at the Siegel Center to select our first ever season ticket seats and it was surreal. The reality that I would get to be part of something that thrived on the energy, enthusiasm, and a collective passion that had been growing in Richmond over the last several years was setting in and it was a little overwhelming. I was running through the “what if” list in my mind and it was not helpful in calming my nerves. We met briefly with a guide who gave us a quick overview of the process and then set us loose to explore our options.
We did a few laps around the Stu checking out the designated areas we had to choose from, contemplating pros and cons, but not really having a clue what the atmosphere would be like on game day. Thankfully we found someone who offered some helpful advice when we asked questions. He pointed out where the Rowdy Rams (students) and The Peppas (pep band) would be located and informed us “If you’re near them you’ll do a LOT of standing”. We figured that the full experience should include being close, but not among the students, so we opted for the last seats in the final row behind the action (Section 31, row X, seats 1 & 2) and took some photos at the seats to commemorate the occasion.
We were getting nervous as the season approached and our tickets hadn’t arrived yet. There was a delay at the printer, so when they finally arrived on October 30, 2012 right before our exhibition game against Virginia Union on November 1, I actually squealed. It was a strange combination of relief and exhilaration. That book was the key that granted access to the realm of Havoc, and I was just 2 days from experiencing it live!
I had prepared as much as I could for the season – I was already a pro at cheering and yelling at the TV screen. I had game info in my email calendar, coded yellow, blocked for before and after game time with reminders to make sure I left work on time. I made multiple trips to the bookstore to ensure I had an adequate collection of black and gold apparel. Anyone who’s watched a televised game knows that VCU fans arrive branded to both home and away games. Not a bad start, but there are some things you can’t anticipate, especially when it comes to Havoc.
So we set out on our adventure with our first game day walk to the Stu. When we arrived we were greeted by the sound of the Peppas who were already in their nationally acclaimed frenetic pre-game show mode. There was black and gold everywhere. We watched returning fans catch up with each other, the first indication of this amazing fan community, which intrigued me. Seats filled up, noise levels rose, and then as the countdown wrapped up on the timers above the baskets all the lights went out. Before I had time to process what happened music broke through and flashing lights cut through the blackness to reveal Rodney the Ram frantically waving a banner sized flag and leading the charge as the players stormed the court and the rowdiness commenced. It was my introduction to the the real magic and the ignition of my true passion for all things Havoc.