Homecoming weekend. A weekend where family and friends come to town and celebrate a shared love for a university.
It's a multi-day celebration of your alma mater and favorite team, or just an excuse to have multiple strong beverages.
For Arizona football, the Oregon Ducks come to town to try and end the celebration, not prolong it. And for me, a kid from a rural town in southern Oregon and a current Arizona Wildcat, the Ducks coming to town is a whole new meaning of Homecoming. It’s a matchup of where I’m from against where I am.
Growing up watching the likes of Dennis Dixon, LaMichael James and De’Anthony Thomas propell the university I grew up closest to into the national spotlight through a game that I loved will always be special to me.
Oregon football put the state in between California and Washington on the map, no pun intended. For a kid that needed any and all motivation to get out and try and do incredible things in his life, seeing the flashy Ducks not only beat whoever lined up against them, but doing so in a way that was exciting, new and faster than it had been done before against higher-ranked opposition was the metaphorical boost I needed to go out and try things that weren’t comfortable or conventional.
Previous to the Ducks’ dominance, the state of Oregon’s point of pride in the sports realm was the birthplace of Nike, Steve Prefontaine and Bill Walton winning an NBA Title in 1977 while jamming out with Jerry Garcia in his off time. That is it.
So to say this game means something to me would be an understatement. It is a clash of some of my proudest and happiest moments during my childhood against the school that has given me a second chance at life, allowing me to chase my dreams, like writing this story, and for that I will be forever indebted.
When I moved to Tucson on Christmas Eve, 2014, I was a 21-year-old, community college drop-out who had nothing to look forward to besides his two part-time jobs and the sports he consumed as a pleasant distraction from the seemingly desolate future that was laid bare before him.
This town picked me off of my feet, and after somehow getting through Pima Community College, the University of Arizona took me in like one of its own last January.
In just the ten months that it has allowed me on campus, every single dream and ambition that I even considered has come true, like getting to cover football, basketball and all the other sports that this university has allowed me to cover, as well as getting to go to Summer League, and this past weekend getting to tour ESPN while capping the same day off by having my own seat in the Rose Bowl press box. I have permanent bruises from constantly pinching myself.
These things above are only possible because I am a Wildcat, but those deep-seeded passions are there because I grew up a Duck.
Homecoming is a celebration of where you come from and where you are going, an annual weekend-long, on-campus festival that helps you remember your roots. The roots of my young life face off in Arizona Stadium at the end of this week, and I’ll be enjoying every second of it.
— David Skinner is a proud Oregonian who happens to cover Arizona Athletics.
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