The family tailgate you've never heard of
Tailgating is a tradition most often associated with football, but only the American version. It’s also mainly reserved for fans on the UA Mall, where they set up pop-up tents, barbecues and TVs to watch other football games.
The parents of Arizona soccer sophomore Jada Talley, however, have brought the American football tradition to the “other” football.
Errol and Vina Talley set up their tailgate outside Mulcahy Stadium on 15th Street before most Arizona home games. The Talleys have held this tradition since Jada’s high school days. They have an RV for this specific purpose, and they even leave it in Tucson after the season ends.
“When time permitted, we did it at all her games,” Errol Talley said.
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Jada Talley, a native of Corona, California, said that the presence of her family helps her feel more at home playing in Tucson.
“I think my parents missed one game since I’ve been here,” the sophomore said. “I don’t know, it’s just good ... It’s kind of like you never left home.”
While the transition from high school to college is a big step for anybody, Jada Talley didn’t come to Arizona alone. Left back Sabrina Enciso played with Talley on So Cal Blues SC. But their relationship goes deeper than that. They lived together last year in the dorms and are living together this year, as well.
Jada Talley and Enciso’s relationship doesn’t stop with the two of them. Their parents are friends as well. Errol Talley actually discussed tailgating with Sabrina Enciso’s parents, Daniel and Elizabeth Enciso.
“The soccer community and families are really close,” Errol Talley said. “Jada and Sabs [had] 11 of their teammates go Pac-12. So we know a lot of people. Sabs’ parents and I talked about doing this during club. Once we saw everyone going Pac-12, the parents have been looking forward to this.”
The Talleys give a lot of credit to Arizona head coach Tony Amato for helping them make the tailgate a reality. Errol said that he mentioned the idea to Amato, who “loved the idea.”
Amato himself reiterated how much he likes the tailgates and values the communal aspect that they bring to the program.
“I think it’s awesome,” Amato said of the tailgates. “Errol brings his RV and tries to get the parents and friends of the program together. I hope people keep getting the word out about that. He’s welcoming to all people to join his tailgate there and just kind of have some camaraderie before the game. Hopefully it continues to grow, but it’s pretty awesome. I’m glad they do it.”
Amato’s fondness for the communal aspect of the tailgates originates in his belief in the importance of involving not only his players on a social level, but also their parents.
“It’s really important that you have relationships with your players and their families,” Amato said. “I don’t want them to be families that we don’t know, don’t talk to us, are distant from us. I want to be connected to them. We need them involved in the process to help their daughters grow from their four-year experience with us.”
Errol and Vina Talley have used tailgating as a way of connecting with the rest of Arizona soccer’s parents and the greater Arizona soccer community. And hey, why should American football have all the fun?
As Errol Talley said, “Football does it. Why not us?”
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