Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Spartan faithful taking advantage of rare trip to sunny Florida

September 18, 2021
<p>Ann and Mark Coghlin, parents of MSU kicker Matt Coghlin, tailgate before the game at Hard Rock Stadium. They were joined by Matt Coghlin&#x27;s girlfriend, Patty Davis, as well as many other Spartan parents to kick off the game. </p>

Ann and Mark Coghlin, parents of MSU kicker Matt Coghlin, tailgate before the game at Hard Rock Stadium. They were joined by Matt Coghlin's girlfriend, Patty Davis, as well as many other Spartan parents to kick off the game.

Photo by Lauren DeMay | The State News

Spartan fans always travel well and seem to be living in just about every corner of the country.

When it was announced that MSU would be traveling south for a non-conference game against No. 24 Miami,  it was a date alumni, parents and students had circled on their calendar, especially for fans living in Florida. 

Erik Timko, a 41 year-old 2002 MSU graduate who now works in sales, took the two hour drive from his home in Fort Myers, Florida.

“For many years, I have lived in Florida for almost 20 and circled this date on the calendar, because they're actually coming to Florida,” Timko said. “So I was looking forward to seeing my Spartans against Miami.”

Footballs were flying, hotdogs were roasting, and sweat was dripping, yet MSU fans did not back down on the opportunity to tailgate even in the hot, humid weather of South Florida. It was all part of a rejuvenated fanbase that is hungry for success and excited for the direction of the team. 

The Michigan State South Florida Alumni Association put together a tailgate just outside Hard Rock Stadium. Ann Coghlin, the mother of MSU graduate kicker Matt Coghlin and an attendant of the tailgate, said she was told by the organization that over 1,000 tickets were sold. 

“It’s fun to see the boys have this opportunity to play in such a great environment and to see all the Sparty fans that are here,” Ann Coghlin said as she held a jar “Tootsie Touchdowns”.

Ann Coghlin and her husband Mark received the duties of the jar as a hand-me-down from the parents of Matt Coghlin’s predecessor, Michael Geiger, who graduated from Michigan State in 2017.

The jar, which is full of Tootsie Rolls and green apple Frooties, is brought to every game. Before the game starts, friends and family members of players take out the number of Tootsie Rolls they think will equate to the number of touchdowns scored by MSU for that game. After each touchdown, they eat one Tootsie Roll, carrying on a sweet tradition. 

Martin Williams, 47, an uncle of sophomore running back Jordon Simmons and native of Atlanta, Georgia, said he tries to go to every road game he can to support the green and white and his nephew. He was not at the game for Simmons’ stellar performance versus Youngstown State last week, but traveled to Northwestern to start the season and made the short flight to Miami for the weekend. 

“The Michigan State alumni do a really good job curtailing all of their fans in one place to be able to meet up,” Williams said. “We were in Northwestern at the start of the year in Chicago. They had an event set up for us where we all got together and were able to galvanize there and create an atmosphere and use it to a winning program.” 

There was similar excitement last year with Mel Tucker taking over as head coach, but it was hard to express from home for Spartan on Saturdays. Now, the timing is perfect and MSU fans are eager to get back to the traditional festivities of college football. 

“It is all Michigan State as far as you can see down there,” George Moore, 57, said. “We travel so well and I am so happy to be here.”

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