By Matthew Coy
So many Columbus Crew fans have stories of home match rituals, epic road game trips, family and club connections and all the stories that go with them. I’ve seen and read about them over the years and admire them all. My son and I have ours, and I decided to share the story of our tradition.
I’ve been a season ticket member since 1996, and my brother has been one since 1999. My son, Ryan, was born in 2002 and has been coming to games with us since he was three. Through good seasons and bad, we may have missed a half dozen home matches this whole time. In 2012, my son and I decided to do something we’ve never done — go to a road game. It’s become an annual tradition. I have so many memories of those trips with my son that it’s no exaggeration when I say those trips with him are among the highlights of my life.
In 2012, the first year, we visited Kansas City. My son was eight years old for that one. We went to Houston in 2013. New England came the following year, and in 2015 we traveled to Salt Lake City. In 2016, it was Philadelphia. Last year, we visited San Jose. This summer, the year he will turn sixteen, we traveled to Los Angeles to see the Galaxy.
It’s not just about the game, although that’s the centerpiece of each trip. We always drive the whole trip, making it possible to see sites on the way there and back. It’s a lot of driving and a big time commitment but completely worth it. In our seven years of trips, we’ve been to almost every corner of the country.
As I recall the places we planned to see as part of the trip, it’s quite a list. We’ve been to three presidential libraries, seen the Gateway Arch, and strolled in the French Quarter. My son was interviewed by NPR while we stood on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. We made the climb to see Delicate Arch in Utah and saw the Space Shuttle at the NASA museum in Huntsville, Alabama. We got a little too close to bison on Antelope Island at Great Salt Lake. We rode horses at Devil’s Tower, Wyoming. We saw Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Monument. We visited the Badlands, the Liberty Bell, Times Square, the Empire State Building, Niagara Falls, Independence Hall, Death Valley, Griffith Park in LA, Big Sur, Saguaro National Park, Sedona, Joshua Tree National Park and White Sands National Monument. We sat on beaches on both oceans and white water rafted in the Colorado River. We ate lobster in York Harbor, Maine. We visited Paramount Studios and saw the set where the Godfather was filmed. Thinking about these memories that span from coast to coast, I find myself looking at those photographs every day, and they all brighten my day.
As tremendous as those sites have been, it’s the unexpected events and the places we thought were just stops along the way that seem to have made the best memories. While we were in the middle of Wyoming, we pulled over our car, and watched pronghorn jump through the grasslands. We watched the sunset in LA from the rooftop of our hotel in Beverly Hills. We stayed in a terrible hotel in Idabel, Oklahoma and laughed about it the whole time. We were attacked by mosquitoes in Houston before the game. We slept in a tent in Death Valley. We had dinner at a fancy restaurant in Malibu and watched the surfers. We’ve also eaten at truck stops and almost every Denny’s in the continental US. We ziplined at extremely high altitude on an Apache reservation. We’ve been through three deserts and it stormed each time. We stopped along the roadside in the Central Valley in California and ate fresh fruit while snow trucks in the Mojave Desert covered us in dirt as they cleared the roads after a mudslide. Most of all, I treasure the conversations my son and I have had. We’re closer than ever because of the time together.
As for the games, we’ve always been treated really well on each trip. Fans are nice to us, and we’re nice back. Even though the home fans are polite, I’ve always felt like we’re defending our city and club on a foreign land. It’s like it’s our duty. We don’t have a great record in the games we’ve attended, but we do our part.
We always marvel at the new stadiums we visit, but in spite of that, we carry ourselves like royalty. Our stadium was the first ever. Our club was MLS’ first, too. Everything Mr. Hunt built made it possible for those clubs to be what they are, and that means something very special.
We all know what’s going on with the Columbus Crew, so I won’t reiterate that here, but I will say that every Crew fan’s future match day traditions and great road trips hinge on what happens off the field in the next few weeks. However, I’m confident our road trip adventures aren’t done yet. My son and I have more of the country to see and more memories to build.
Our club has more games to win. The road and the games await us.
Editors Note: check out the Dispatch Crew Cuts: Father and son hopeful annual Crew SC road trip continues for more on the road trip tradition.