No matter the kick-off time, Brian Martindale, David Rich and David Oakley begin each Elon football home game tailgate at 7 a.m.

They make up most of the Elon 7 A.M. Tailgate Crew. Today, their day started 12 hours before the first home football game of 2022 against Gardner-Webb University. 

“We're always excited about the tailgate,” Oakley said. “We're glad that we have a night game for the first game. This is nice 80 degree weather, Saturday night football, you can't get anything better now.”

A night game was one of their biggest requests this year when talking with head coach Tony Trisciani, according to Oakley. The group is looking to expand tailgating culture at Elon and have been bringing people together to Rhodes Stadium for over 10 years.

“It's just great for the community. We will try to do our part for Elon and now we come out at 7 a.m.,” Oakley said.

Along with the start time, the food served at the first tailgate of the season is also tradition. The crew serves pulled pork at the first game and a whole pig at Homecoming, but they’ve done everything from breakfast food to chicken wings. Rich said they’re hoping to try a fish fry for the first time this year.

Student organizations and groups such as the Elon University Dance Team, Student Union Board and Black Student Union also all hosted tailgates in the Student Zone located on Bank of America Drive. The tents featured food, cornhole and music.

Elon freshman Emily Gagan attended her first Elon football game today with friends from her dorm. She said she looked forward to meeting up with other people she knows.

“I'm really excited to see everyone out there. I know a lot of the people on our floor there so I'm excited to see them,” Gagan said.

The next tailgate will be held during Family Weekend before the football game against the University of Richmond on Oct. 1. Students can reserve a tent in the Student Zone on Bank of America Drive through the Student Involvement website.


Lexi Rogers contributed to the reporting of this story.