Alabama students show their devotion to football in numerous ways; whether it’s making sure every inch of skin is painted, wearing the same lucky T-shirt to every game or waiting outside the stadium five hours before kick-off.
Some students experience game days from a different perspective than the average fan, though they do so with the same passion.
These students strive to make everyone’s home game experience a great one, from getting the crowd amped up to serving the VIPs in attendance to hosting the president’s guests.
Junior, mechanical engineering
Clarinet section leader in the Million Dollar Band
Chris Courtney wasn’t an avid football fan before college, but that changed after his first time performing with the band at the Clemson game in 2008.
“To be on the field and be part of that moment was really exciting,” Courtney said. “The crowd went wild, and it was the loudest thing I’d ever heard. That pretty much got me hooked, just the whole atmosphere at that game alone.
The band begins its preparation for football season with a week and a half of band camp each August. It lasts about 10 hours a day until school starts, when they cut back to an hour and a half.
They have rehearsal the morning of each game, so Courtney misses out on “regular” game day experiences like tailgating.
“I’m not going to say I miss out on sitting with my best friends because I do that anyway,” he said.
One of the best aspects is being a part of such a tight-knit group whose members attend each game together, Courtney said.
“I’ve been to LSU, Tennessee, Ole Miss and Auburn, two SEC championships, the Sugar Bowl and the national championship,” he said. “So, the travel’s not bad either.”
President of Capstone Men and Women
A lifelong Alabama fan, Taylor Collins has increased his passion through Capstone Men and Women, which brings him closer to the action.
Collins is part of an elite, 25-student team whose game day duties include serving President Robert Witt and his guests during pre-game festivities and working in the president’s box during the game.
Only some members work each game, so the rest do get the opportunity to watch from the student section.
“One great thing about Capstone is really being able to show off your university,” he said. “I take pride in my school, so being able to show it to prospective students is really rewarding. A second great part is the camaraderie we get among the members of the group. We’re the only people who know exactly how much we do and how much we learn.”
The group also makes a tunnel of flags on the field that the players run through.
“Being on the field of Bryant-Denny Stadium is so surreal,” Collins said.
While they are working, the members of CMW sometimes get to mingle with the likes of Winston Groom, Jay Barker, Sarah Evans and other famous fans and alumni.
“I did see Condoleezza Rice,” Collins said. “I got in a handshake, but that was about it.”
Member of the Crimson Tide Hospitality Team
During each game, Ammon works as an attendant, one of many positions on the Hospitality Team. He works in five boxes throughout the game, ensuring the skybox holders have everything they need. He arrives at the stadium four hours in advance and leaves nearly two hours after the game ends.
“Getting paid to go to the games rather than paying to go is definitely the best part,” Ammon said.
Though he does miss parts of the game, Ammon can catch some of it between tending the skyboxes. After sitting in the student section his freshman year, he said he prefers his experience working, where he’s had the opportunity to attend Athletic Director Mal Moore’s box and meet former governor Don Siegelman.
“I would definitely say I’m a pretty avid Alabama football fan, but it’s not exactly appropriate to scream when we get touchdowns or wrong calls,” Ammon said. “It’s definitely different than when I’m with my buddies watching a game. Instead of being a football fan you’re a professional. It’s just two different ways to partake in the experience.”