National Signing Day on Wednesday brought several new additions to the Gamecock family, so today's question is about all of us here at Garnet and Black Attack joining that family. How or why did you become a Gamecock fan?
I took the easy way out - I was born in Irmo to a set of parents that had season tickets to football. I never really had a choice.
If I had, I would've made the same one, particularly after going to a ton of BJ McKie games in elementary school while he was tearing it up in SCHSL. Of course, once he decided to play his college ball at USC, we decided as a family to pick up season tickets to basketball as well. And then Ray Tanner became our baseball coach and that program became great so I ended up going to a bunch of Carolina baseball games in high school and college.
By the time I'd arrived at USC, I'd already been to over 100 football games and over 100 basketball games, with another couple of dozen baseball games in there as well. It's not that I can remember when I started being a USC fan, it's that I simply can't ever remember being anything but one.
Like ChickenHoops, I was born into my Carolina fandom. My grandpa played football at USC and has been a season ticket holder for as long as I can remember.
Even though watching the Gamecocks is something that my dad's whole side of the family has always done together, it took a long time for me to really join in. As a kid I was more interested in playing sports than watching them and my emotional investment in the Gamecocks was best described as casual. I wore garnet and black, claimed the Gamecocks as my team, and liked to hate on Clemson, but I didn't care enough to actually watch much. That casual attitude continued even after I started occasionally going to Carolina football games, but finally changed once I got to high school. My freshman year I suddenly decided to care about football, so I started paying attention to games and asking my dad to explain things to me. As my understanding of football grew, so did my interest in the Gamecocks.
When it came time to decide where to go to college I felt like I should choose based off of something besides the football team that I liked, but I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life (still don't!), so there was no particular major or program to look for in a school. I applied to USC and while I was still trying to figure out where to apply as my backup, I got an early acceptance letter. By the end of my freshman year at USC I had completed the transformation from the casual fan I was as a child to the diehard fan that I am now.
Unlike ChickenHoops and Kaci, I had no connection to the Gamecocks and had literally never thought about anything USC-related until they sent me a postcard my senior year of high school. I didn't really care about sports in high school, but for some reason, I really wanted to go to a school where sports were a big deal and the games were always televised. I guess it seemed like a college-y thing to me? I don't know. Anyway, I was pretty sure I didn't want to go very far away from home for school, but I applied to USC because that postcard they sent had the Strom pool on it and the idea of going to a college with what appeared to be a resort on campus was appealing.
Fast forward a few months, and I'd decided I was going to be a Gamecock. I learned pretty quickly once I got to school that going to football games was what people did on the weekends in the fall. I also learned pretty quickly that Clemson is The Worst, and after I accidentally wore a bright orange University of Illinois shirt one day and got yelled at multiple times for wearing orange, I never made that mistake again. It didn't take long for me to fully embrace USC athletics (football and baseball, anyway), and now, it's weird to think about what I did with my time before Gamecock sports - and sports in general - were in it.
The genesis of my fandom falls somewhere between the answers above. I was born and raised in South Carolina by northeastern parents, so college sports weren't really a factor in my household. We cared about Braves baseball and that was about it. I was aware of South Carolina and Clemson growing up, but I could not have cared less about either.
I'm not sure when it became apparent South Carolina would be my college destination-I was heavy into high school journalism and spent a handful of weekends on campus for various scholastic journalism events. Those actually served as my defacto college visits, as I never officially visited SC. But a nice journalism school and a full ride made my decision rather easy. As far as sports were concerned, high school was kind of a dead period for me largely because I'd given up playing baseball for guitar and spent most of my time holed up in my room learning Zeppelin and Hendrix songs. But by the time I was a senior in high school, my heart was squarely behind South Carolina. Truthfully, at the time I had no sense of our historically futile football program. I just liked it up there, could attend free of charge and all the preps from high school were going to Clemson. The decision was easy. Interestingly enough, I didn't follow football or really any USC sport closely while on campus. It wasn't until I graduated and moved away that I began to experience a magnetism that drove me to previously unreached levels of fandom.
My story is a bit different than the others. I grew up in Mobile, AL, far from Gamecocks country. Some of my family members are Auburn fans, and I grew up loosely cheering for the Tigers. However, I did my undergrad at South Alabama, and thus never really cemented my Auburn fandom. After finishing my studies at USA, I went on to graduate school at South Carolina. Not having a very strong previous allegiance (again, the youthful Auburn fandom was kind of loose, and South Alabama didn't have a football team at the time), I quickly fell in love with Carolina sports and have retained that passion ever since.
Similar story as some of the others here. I grew up in Irmo and my family went to USC. Back then, I was going to games with my Dad. At other times, I was often selling hot dogs and cokes with my church youth group. I went to a ton of games growing up; however, I didn't really become a serious fan until much later. The Gamecocks weren't in the SEC then and we weren't that good either. I was the black sheep of the family because I graduated from College of Charleston. But like my family, my blood has always been the color Garnet.