Warming Up to the Raider

Warming Up to the Raider

Homesickness, strange roommates, balancing a schedule, adjusting to life in America, trudging up and down the hill and dealing with far-from-home-cooked Frank meals. Each is a formidable task for the average, unassuming first year student. Although I am not exempt from the afflictions that haunt your average Colgate University freshman, my most daunting challenge is to assimilate myself into the Raider community. What creature could withstand the onslaught of school pride that flows in the veins of the students, the Hamilton residents, and every brick that comprises our 188-year-old campus?

Before I answer that silly question, let me first tell you about the last I attended, Punahou School in Honolulu, Hawaii. It is not only an academically competitive environment, but it also boasted a lucky thirteen state championships in the 2006-2007 school year, demonstrating that we have smart jocks. In this way, Punahou is a lot like Colgate. Because Punahou is a K-12 school, I hadn’t changed schools in 11 years prior to enrolling at Colgate. That equates to over a decade of seeing the same faces in class, around the quad and at every sports event our spirited campus supported. I was a proud, loud, die-hard member of the “Puns Super Fan” club (the equivalent of Colgate’s “Raider Nation”) for the majority of my life, and on Thursday nights I enjoyed nothing more than verbally bashing our closest athletic and academic rivals, the Iolani “Raiders”. Therein lies the source of my discomfort, the root of all my cheering and memorabilia-buying inhibitions.

The first thing my mother and I did when we arrived at the Syracuse Airport was head straight to the Colgate Bookstore. We survived rush-hour traffic, heady motorists and unpaved back roads all so that we could browse the three-tiered bookstore in peace. Each of us grabbed two baskets at the door and set off to start a collection of overpriced Colgate stuff. As I scanned the aisles seeking out lanyards, magnets and bold-faced sweaters, I was consumed with sheer terror by the sight of the word “Raiders” printed on everything! It was the nightmare I never thought would happen to me! By the time we had to leave, I had a sparse compilation of Raider-less items because I was too hesitant to leave my hatred behind andgo with the flow of my new life.

The way I see it, college is a chance for me to become a new person and branch out in my interests. Each of us came to Colgate from an array of schools, leaving friends, cultures, old mascots and comfort zones behind, but that doesn’t mean we have to completely abandon the history we toted behind us when we first stepped foot on this hallowed campus. I will always be a hardcore Puns fan, with preference to royal blue and buff yellow, but I can be a Raider, too.

Although I have yet to purchase my first Raider Nation t-shirt, I did attend the men’s soccer game last Saturday, finding myself almost completely immersed with the raucous fans. As difficult as it is to bring myself to scream “Go Raiders!” at the top of my lungs – or even whisper it, for that matter – there are far more pressing issues to deal with, some of which were mentioned above. Learning to be comfortable with the mascot I’ve been dealt will come with time. I may never be the rip-off-my-shirt-and-paint-my-chest-with-body-paint kind of guy, but who knows? I just might be the next candidate to wear the outlandish Raider costume at homecoming in three years.