It’s game day. You can smell hotdogs sizzling on the Mod grills, parking attendants are furiously shepherding alumni into parking garages and onto Brighton campus, Baldwin is afoot on campus, and you are... lost. You’re standing in a sea of maroon and gold with ten other freshmen from Medeiros Hall, each of you wielding only a Gold Pass and a questionably-colored Powerade-and-somethingelsefreshmenshouldn’thave concoction. Yet, you have nothing to fear. BC tailgating is a long-lasting tradition of "just figuring it out," but with my guidance, there’s no need to be afraid. I have created a senior’s survival guide to tailgating in each year of your BC experience, guaranteeing you the best possible game day.
The freshman year is, by far, the most daunting. It takes some serious creativity in order to master freshman-year game day, especially during those earlier September games, but it’s not impossible. For those unlucky enough to end up on the Newton campus (yes, I’m an Upper Campus Elitist, Gonzaga for life), it’s time to learn how to plan ahead. Once you’re on campus, you’re going to want to stay there, so make sure you have everything you might want to consume with you when you hop on that 8:15 am bus (I’m a firm believer in being a little bit late as a freshman-let the older students test the waters for you). Even if you are on the Upper Campus, the odds you’ll make it back up those stairs and choose to return to the tailgates are slim to none, so get everything you need. Next, pick your group and stick with it. Cell service is a laughable concept in the Mod Lot, so if one person needs the porta-potty, everyone does. Finally, don’t forget to have fun! It seems like everyone knows someone except you, but in reality, the Lot is filled with alumni who are just waiting to talk to students. A connection as small as living in the same dorm building as they did all those years ago is enough to get the conversation flowing. BC alums are some of the kindest and most generous people around, and they practically shove food at you. Always be gracious and ask before you take something, but the odds are, people are looking to share! As the season progresses, you will get more comfortable with your surroundings and might even make friends with someone whose parents have a spot of their own. No matter what, go to the games! They are a great way to feel involved in the BC community and, despite our current ranking, a lot of fun.
Sophomore year tailgating, I must admit, is the area in which I have the least amount of expertise. I watched my sophomore football season on ACCN in my Walsh 8-man, roughly 0.4 miles away from the actual games, which occurred in a spectator-less Alumni Stadium. However, from what I’ve gleaned from current sophomores, as with everything else, Walsh is the way to go. After that, take some time to explore new tailgate spots that you may have been too nervous to engage with during your freshman year. The roof of the Commonwealth Ave. garage, for instance, has both a great atmosphere and an even better view of the Mod Lot below. You are also more likely to know someone with a family spot at this point, so make sure to stop there as well. Of course, always thank your friends’ parents for hosting you, especially if you’ll be returning for future games. It’s not cheap to purchase one of those spots for the year, nor is it easy to make all of that food, so being grateful is a must!
Start your day off-campus, junior year. Even if you live on-campus, the trek to the Foster area is worth it. I find that this is the year that allows you the most variation in your game day experience. After you’ve exhausted the off-campus darties, you can begin the walk towards Alumni Stadium, but not without a quick pit stop at Brighton Campus. Brighton tailgates are one of the hidden secrets of a BC game day; the theology campus houses the cheapest tailgating spots, so this is where you’re most likely to find recent alums. It’s a nice change of pace from the older, more traditional crew you might be used to, and you might even recognize some familiar faces from clubs or classes! Finally, as always, all roads lead to the Mod Lot, the best place to close your tailgating experience. The benefit of having to walk from off-campus is that, as you make your way from St. Ignatius inwards, you’ll pass a whole set of spots you might not have known existed! This "outer ring," which lasts up to right outside of Robsham Theater, is a great way to ease into the chaos of the Lot while keeping your energy up. Stop by a few of these, but make sure to save time for the final event before you make it into the game (hopefully, I know sometimes a nap just calls your name).
Finally, we arrive at senior year. The pinnacle of it all. That glorious red maze is yours to explore. It’s Mod time. Sometimes, the obvious choice is the best one. Grab your driver’s license and arrive on the early side in order to ensure that the morning (or afternoon) goes off without a hitch. For the under-21s, I hope you enjoy cramming yourself between two wooden planks on a 5.5 ft-long blue couch because that will be your Friday night ritual until your birthday finally arrives. It’s all worth it, though, for that super innovative, never-been-done-before Mod Window Instagram post. (Guilty!) Most importantly, savor every moment inside those wiry black gates. Think back to the three years before, peering in from the outside, wondering what it would be like to be a senior. And think forward to a year from now, when you’ll open up Twitter to see BC getting absolutely obliterated by some school with 3,425 students and will somehow find yourself nostalgic for the smell of hot dogs, the taste of a warm Saturday, and the tune of For Boston. Enjoy those four hours, regardless of the year, because each year provides a unique game day experience that you will remember for the rest of your life.