Growing up Clemson

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Memories from an Athletic Department ‘brat’

Last week, I was in the attic putting up the rest of the Christmas decorations and came upon a box marked “Old T-shirts.” Inside I found my 1981 National Championship sweatshirt and brought it downstairs to put into my suitcase to take to Arizona.

There were many shirts in the box that reminded me of other games through the years, and I took a few minutes to look through them and go down memory lane.

I have been a Clemson fan all my life and have been going to games since I was five years old. My father, George Bennett, was the director of IPTAY for many years, which meant I grew up as an Athletic Department “brat.” We attended every sporting event from baseball, tennis, wrestling, swimming, soccer, golf, basketball – and, of course, football.

The athletic staff was our family and it was always a tight-knit group. Most of us went to church together and ate lunch at the training table for Sunday lunch along with all the athletes. These students came to our house for dinner, to study, to get advice from my parents or just to get away from campus for a while. We loved being a part of their lives.

The coaches’ children were my friends and we celebrated together with each win and mourned together for the losses as well. We roamed through Fike and later Jervey, talking to coaches, secretaries and players on a daily basis. I helped Captain Jervey work his crossword puzzles and had “Doc” Hoover chase me out of the locker room after a game when the players were trying to get dressed.

We traveled to away games together, driving through rainstorms, the dark of night and sometimes leaving at the crack of dawn. My parents would even let us meet the basketball team on a school night at 2 a.m. to welcome them home after a big win on the road. My mom used to tell people, “For you it’s a game, but to us it’s a living.” And that was the truth.

As a Clemson native, a Clemson graduate and a former Clemson employee, I am thankful for my Clemson family and thankful to God for allowing me to grow up in this wonderful environment. It is fun to reminisce about the past, but also exciting to think about the future of our university as it continues to improve in all areas and rank as one of the top schools in the country.

Win or lose, “Dear Ole Clemson, We will Triumph and with all our Might. That the Tiger’s Roar may Echo o’er the Mountain Height.”

Bonnie Bennett Dixon lives in Greenville and posted this essay on Facebook, Friday, Jan. 8.

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