After a long wait, tailgating is finally back at Elon University. Since COVID-19 sidelined some traditions, last year students were unable to attend games and tailgates as usual, but many are excited to be back at Rhodes’ Stadium this fall. The revival of good food and a lively environment tends to attract a wide audience, including students, staff and alumni.
One group of viewers has been tailgating together for 10 years. Alumni Brian Martindale ‘95 and Burlington resident Mike Cross said they bring their crew to the tailgate lots at the crack of dawn.
“Our group is always there by 7 a.m. no matter what the game time is,” Cross said. “We got satellite TV, watching European soccer in the morning, the college game day, ESPN, before the game.”
A key symbol for the group is the Elon flag that they proudly display for every game.
“We gotta make sure that flag is up by 7 a.m.,” Martindale said. “That’s our ritual.”
Cross said they change the food at their tailgates depending on the opponent.
“We try to cook something that reflects the theme of the opponent’s mascot or where they’re from,” Cross said.
Due to COVID-19, Elon Athletics did not offer tailgating for the spring football season, meaning the group has not been able to tailgate since 2019. After putting their festivities on hold for so long, Cross and Martindale said the group is happy to be back at the tailgates.
“We enjoy it,” Martindale said. “Good fun to hang out with friends. It’s very nice to be around and see people again in a social setting. I’m excited for the friendship and camaraderie.”
The atmosphere of the tailgating scene is what kept drawing the group back for 10 years.
“What we like to do is look all around the parking lots near the stadium and see a lot of groups doing the same thing that we are,” Cross said. “That’s really why we do it.”
A favorite event among the group is homecoming. The group even has their own specific tradition for the big game.
“We cook a pig every homecoming,” Martindale said. “We actually start it the night before. It’s great. We all get together and have a little mini-event … you get to see folks you haven’t seen in a while.”
The tailgating crew brings a love for Elon Athletics and years of traditions to games.
“We’re a group of guys that have a passion for Elon Athletics,” Martindale said.