When Anne Valente was just a kid, the Illini mom and dad who raised her would take her along for the ride on all of those St. Louis-to-C-U day trips for football games.
So when she returned to campus years later as a journalism grad student, guess how Valente spent her fall Saturdays?
“I attended every single football game in the Block I section of Memorial Stadium," says the award-winning author and visiting assistant professor of literature and creative writing at Hamilton College.
"My husband, who was at the time a graduate student in the library science program, bought a student season ticket, too, and every home-game Saturday found us on the metal benches of Memorial Stadium.
“We were likely the only graduate students in the largely undergraduate Block I section, but they welcomed us all the same.
“My parents both earned their degrees from the University of Illinois, and when I was a kid, we drove up often from St. Louis to attend football games. To be able to sit in Memorial Stadium every Saturday was a welcome return to childhood, and a festive reprieve from the demands of graduate work.
“Since graduating from the University of Illinois, I still love returning to Champaign for lunch at Papa Del’s and coffee at Espresso Royale, and I love returning to Memorial Stadium as a former season-ticket holder and lifelong Illinois fan.”