This past Friday, I was able to follow around Randy Turco, who is a diehard Golden Gopher football fan, at the unveiling ceremony for the new football uniforms. Randy, who is a 2003 graduate from Minnesota, was randomly selected by our football contact Andy Seeley to receive an invite to the jersey unveiling ceremony at TCF Bank Stadium. Little did Andy know that our randomly selected winner hailed from Lansing, Mich. Even with having this news brought to our attention, the invitation was still offered to Randy, but we didn't anticipate him to accept. I say this because for being the winner he was given an invitation to the jersey unveiling only, which obviously means an all-expense paid trip was not part of the deal. But to our surprise (and delight), Randy was not concerned about the financial aspect and eagerly accepted our invitation.
"When I got the tweet from Andy, I was actually on my office phone with my boss," said Turco. "As I read it, I began shaking because I was so excited, and I couldn't say anything out loud because I was talking to my boss. After work, I could barely drive home because I was trying to call everybody I knew."
When Randy told me this, I instantly knew he was more than just an average fan. After getting to know him a little better, I found out that Randy not only lives for Gopher football, but he loves the University of Minnesota as a whole. Here is a short rundown about Randy to help you get to know him a little better...
Randy is originally from Michigan, and chose to attend Minnesota to get away from home and experience life outside of "The Great Lakes State". In four years, Randy had the time of his life and fell in love with Minnesota. Following graduation, he got pulled back to his home state to work for the House of Representatives. The move back home was one Randy foresaw as a short term plan before he could return to the Twin Cities. Fast forward nine years later, and he still resides in Michigan as he finishes up law school.
"I haven't been able to move back to Minneapolis, but I still make a trip every summer to see old friends and keep the networks open. Everyone that knows me..knows what it means to me to be back in Minneapolis and get to visit campus."
This August, Randy will finish up with law school, and his first plan of action is to take the Minnesota Bar Exam.
With those things being said, let's get back to the story of Randy's visit.
The doors didn't open for the jersey ceremony until 3 p.m., so Randy spent the day roaming around campus and checking out what used to be his old stomping grounds. He even made sure to stop over at Gibson-Nagurski to visit Floyd of Rosedale along with all the other historic memorabilia surrounding the football offices.
Once the clock struck 3:00 p.m., sure enough, Randy was one of the first people to walk through the doors of the Gophers' locker room, and in his right hand, he was carrying a 2011 Minnesota Football Media Guide as any true Golden Gopher football fan would do!
After being introduced to Randy, I watched him from a distance as he wandered from locker to locker, checking out the various name plates. The longtime Minnesota fan looked like a kid in a candy store as he examined the locker room and soaked in everything.
Following the jersey unveiling, I shadowed Randy as he battled the crowds to get all eight Gopher players and head coach Jerry Kill to sign not one...but three posters that showcased the players in the new uniforms. The whole time Randy had a smile from ear-to-ear, and you could tell that this was an experience like none other.
After the crowds left, I sat down with Randy and asked him about the experience as a whole. As he started talking about everything that he had done and seen, it quickly hit me that my next question [What was your favorite part of this experience?] was obsolete because not one thing stood out more than another.
"It is just a great feeling to be a part of all of this, which makes it hard to choose what my favorite part from this day was. I mean, I got to check out Floyd [of Rosedale] over in Gibson-Nagurski, walk around TCF Bank Stadium and actually roam the locker room. Next time you guys [GopherSports.com] upload a postgame video of the team in this locker room after one of many big wins I foresee this team getting in the coming years, I will be able to say I have been in there. It is just an unbelievable experience, and I don't think a lot of people get to say that."
And it was at that moment that I had an epiphany...
Randy is witnessing and experiencing things that I have had the privilege to partake in and call my "job." I put "job" in quotes because some days I may view it as just any other job, but the truth is I get paid to work in athletics, which is something that I love and am passionate about. I may not enjoy every moment of it, but people like Randy make me look back at all the long nights, weekends and holidays I have spent in a press box or on a bus writing a game recap and appreciate what I call my "job." So Randy, thank you for opening my eyes!
To finish off this post, I once again would like to thank Randy for not only being a dedicated Golden Gopher football fan but also a lifelong supporter of the University of Minnesota. Good luck with the remainder of law school, and hopefully, you can make it to Minneapolis next season to attend your first game at TCF!