Longtime season ticket holders share their story
Homecoming week is upon us. The week-long event celebrates current students and alumni alike. Two of those alumni, Dave Rysztak of Haslett and Charlie Thomas of Okemos, are being showcased by The State News.
The two have flown under the radar as some of the biggest Spartan fans one could possibly meet. Rysztak and Thomas both attended MSU and have been season ticket holders since their days in school. That dates back to 1968, 49 years ago. Rysztak took a hiatus from season tickets during the mid-70’s, but returned in 1979. The two have been going to essentially every home game for the past 50 years.
They had “season tickets" as students, but there was actually no such thing. The tickets for college students were sold individually at less than $10 per game, according to Rysztak and Thomas.
That’s not all, though. Starting just over a decade ago, Rysztak and Thomas began attending at least one away game every year. They’ve been to Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana for football games amongst several other schools.
After moving out of the student section, their season tickets were moved to the north end zone near the corner with the visiting fans. They enjoyed their time and their seats, but eventually it was time to move.
Around 25 years ago, they moved into section 6, row 33, seats 4-7. They’ve stayed there ever since. The great view, the surrounding people and the simple routine of going to the same place every week keeps Rysztak and Thomas coming back. Also, they haven’t donated enough money to get better seats.
“We were never going to get good enough seats at the 40-yard line, 50-yard line,” said Rysztak. “We didn’t donate for that.”
Of all the memories that flood their minds when thinking of the past years at Spartan Stadium, two of their three favorite memories have come from the last decade. Rysztak and Thomas both mentioned the famous “Little Giants” fake field goal against Notre Dame and the hail mary “Rocket” play against Wisconsin amongst their top three favorite Spartan Stadium memories of all time that goes to show you how blessed MSU fans have been in the past decade.
Thomas also said that MSU’s upset win over a top-tier Woody Hayes-coached Ohio State team in 1974 was a highlight of his Spartan Stadium experience along with watching legendary Spartan wideout Kirk Gibson lead MSU to a Big Ten Championship.
Something that comes along with going to games every weekend in the fall for almost 50 years is the development of traditions. Thomas and Rysztak, up until this year, would bet on the game's final scores and whoever would win would take the money from the pot. If no one guessed the correct score, the closest to winning would use the money to pick a dinner spot.
Their favorite tradition, though, is what they say after every single national anthem.
“NOTRE DAME SUCKS!” Rystzak proudly said inside a coffee shop.
The reasoning behind this is that MSU and Notre Dame were heated rivals back when Thomas and Rystzak went to school here. The so-called “Game of the Century” between the Irish and Spartans happened two years before the two arrived on campus, so it’s been a mainstay at games for them ever since.
Being an MSU fan generally comes with a lot of frustration or sadness and before this past decade, it wasn’t easy being green, but Rystzak and Thomas are over it. Their positive outlook on past events is something that many Spartan fans should learn from.
“I’m a revisionist,” said Thomas. “I guess we tend to block things out.”
“There were a lot of (losses) so nothing stands out.” Rystzak added.
Spartan fandom knows no bounds. Marcia Poniers Rystzak, Dave Rystzak’s wife and someone who’s been there since day one of their season ticket journey, put it better than anyone else could.
“What happens when you go to MSU and you graduate and your blood turns green,” said Poniers Rystzak. “I just think that part of being a Michigan State fan becomes a part of who you are.”