Clemson Athletics' Social Summer promotion continues today, July 17, with Web Wednesday. Each week a story that encompasses the Clemson experience will be featured on our webpage. This week's memory comes from Patrick Diggin. Patrick recalls how a former Clemson football player showed him what being a Clemson Tiger is all about.
This is my story on how becoming a Clemson fan impacted my life, and how one former player turned it all around for me. I was born in Braintree, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston, and grew up in a NFL loving household as a diehard New England Patriot fan. It all started when I relocated to Aiken, SC at the age of 21. When I got to Aiken it was right in the middle of college football season and I had no idea what the "Big deal" was with college football fans. As you drove around the small town of Aiken all you saw was South Carolina, Georgia or Clemson stickers covering the backs of vehicles and flags flying proudly over people's houses. At this moment in time I was still an avid NFL fan and didn't know the difference of being a "Dog" or a "Gamecock" or a "Tiger". So I rode the bench and stuck with the NFL for about 3 years until I met a certain gentlemen named Henry "REGGIE" Merriweather. I started working for the same company as Reggie and he was introduced to me as a tutor to help teach me. I had no idea who he was, but one day while I was out and told a Clemson Fan that "I was working with Reggie Merriweather" this person was in shock that I knew the infamous Clemson running back. To me he was just an average stocky guy who looked like he could lift a small car. So the next day at work I asked Reggie "So I heard you used to play ball at Clemson?" and of course with a big grin that he always has he chuckled and said "Yes I ran around Frank Howard Field at Memorial Stadium". So we got to talking about it and he explained how he took a backseat when the "legends" came in but he never let it get him down, he explained the coaching decisions and how they affected the outcome of how his time at Clemson and how he moved on to San Diego after college. He explained the history to me - everything from "Howards Rock" to "Running down the hill". So that next year Reggie brought me to Clemson and showed me around and let me tell you something - being from the Boston area where you grow up a diehard Sox, Bruins, Celtics and Patriots fan, I was in shock. All you saw for miles was orange and purple and it was amazing. I walked around the campus with Reggie while he showed me different things and introduced me to people as "My buddy from Boston" and that he was here to show me what being a Tiger is all about. While walking I thought to myself this is wicked cool to think "this average stocky guy who looked like he could lift a small car" was still a part of this school after being gone for 6 years. During the walk up the hill to Howard Field I was sold as soon as I took the march with the other 81500+ into Memorial Stadium. It was settled that Clemson was my new home especially after seeing the team "Run down the hill". To this day I still go to games with Reggie and we tailgate and every time I see the Paws on Highway 28 I still laugh and smile.
Do you have a story you would like to share with us? Fans are encouraged to submit their own experiences by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Please be sure to include your name, hometown, phone number and a photo.