Article graphics courtesy by ucfknights.com
Written by Nathan Wertheimer
Reporter and Photojournalist
Orlando, FL – There was a lot of buzz surrounding this college football game. UCF wanted to keep their undefeated streak alive. Before the game, there were many people tailgating at the Memory Mall. Most fans were relaxing or playing games. The most popular games were beer pong, Flip cup, beanbag toss, and throwing the football around. One can’t forget the food on the grill too.
At the Fan Zone, K92 FM has a stage setup with a local band. Additional Financial Bank were given out free clear plastic bags for personal items to bring into the stadium. State Farm Insurance gave out free towels for signing up. There were other vendors out there too. Some of the food vendors on hand were Tijuana Flats, Duncan Donuts were giving out free donut holes and a beverage, and much more. For fun there was a petting zoo with pigs, rabbits, and goats. Many children loved this attraction. Plus, there was horse riding too. There was a long line to visit the Gold Metal NCAA National Football Championship trophy. It was worth the wait so fans could see it.
Behind the scenes, I checked in at the media entrance at the stadium. No issues to report. I was given a white UCF bib #76. This was different from last year when we has media sticker to put on our clothing. When I entered the Media Workroom. It was bigger place this year. What a great improvement. Most fans and curious people were wondering what do the credential media eat and drink inside the Media Workroom. This year they served the media Pizza Hut along with bottled water, PowerAde, and regular Coca-Cola soft drinks. This was all complimentary. Don’t forget we are working media and not spectators at the game. One can’t put a price tag on field access.
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The Media Workroom looked more like a war room with laptop computers, camera gear, and tripod positioned for the end of game press conference. Most of us knew each other from previous sporting events. Everyone was focused on new gathering material.
Once I entered the field before the game, there were many empty seats. The PA announcer said “Please do not save any seats for anyone.” “This is a packed house for this game.” I was able to shoot some still and video coverage. At one moment, I found myself video taping Dillion Gabriel putting on his football pads on the field. All the players were doing their pre-game routine workout.
There was so much energy at to the build-up to this game. The pre-game introduction has the UCF Marching Knights perform out on the field. The band sounded really great. Both team were not on the field when the national anthem was played. After the national anthem UCF football team ran out onto the field. They were ready to charge on! Even the UCF Knight a horse rode into the stadium to get the crowd pumped up.
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During the game, I was able to capture some plays coming towards me. As a Photojournalist, one has to keep their eye on the ball. On the first two quarters of the game I was photographing at the southeast part of the field. Many photographers had to work around staff and cheerleaders to get the images we needed. I loved the fan reactions when UCF made many touchdowns. There were some player injuries during the game for both teams. There were a few sprinkles during the game. However, no one was soaked during the game. The sun was shining at various times. The final game score was UCF beating Stanford 27-45.
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After the game, there was a press conference inside the Media Workroom. UCF Head Coach Josh Heupel was the first one to speak and explained his team played really well. “Big win for the program and our kids are excited for it.” “Everyone waits to see us against a Power 5 opponent…” “…We hold our own.” “…We have the most competitive group of kids I’ve been around…” “…You watch us work Monday thru Friday, we are consistent.” “…We play championship caliper football each and every week…” “…We have a fantastic coaching staff…” Currently, UCF is ranked 15th on the AP Poll and 16th in the Coaches Poll the day after this game.
Overall, it was a great football game day to cover. If you have never been to an UCF football game you don’t know what you’re missing. Expect UCF to continue on there winning streak. Get your tickets when they go on sale. They will sell out very fast because UCF is a top 25-college football team in the country. For tickets please visit www.ucfknights.com .
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