Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Guest Blog: Chief Memory

We asked for your favorite memories of Chief Illiniwek. You delivered. U of I alum Basil Tripsas wrote the following:

The first Illinois football game I went to was in 1977, my freshman year. This was Gary Moeller's first year as head coach and the start of an era most Illini fans would rather forget (I was also there for the 0-0 tie with Northwestern).

In those days a one-game student ticket could be had for $5 and one could walk up to Memorial Stadium on game day and get a seat. I was up in the balcony, section AA. The game was against Missouri. It was an overcast, drizzly day for most of the first half, and the Illini were losing at halftime.

Halftime arrived, and the Marching Illini began the Three-in-One. It was the first time I'd seen the Chief, and I was looking forward to the event. As he finished the dance, took his spot at midfield, and raised his arms at the start of the Alma Mater, the sun broke out through the clouds. I remember the moment, and thinking, "We're winning this game." And we did.

I saw the Chief at several other football games over the years (including the '83 Michigan game where we clinched the Rose Bowl) as well as home basketball games from '78 to '83. But none of his performances ever matched the tingle down the spine I had on that day in 1977.

Basil Tripsas
B.S. UIUC 1980
M.S. UIUC 1981
Ph.D. UIUC 1988

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