Welcome to Part II of “The Women of TGS” series, where I bring you thoughts and stories from the female contributors of The Tailgate Society on their hottest takes, favorite and least favorite sports moments, and what this all means to them. Today’s featured contributor is writer and podcaster Emily Cornell.
“I love that sports is a small talk topic that leads to genuine connection.”
What teams/sports do you follow?
The University of Wyoming teams are my number one to follow for college sports. Although it’s not always easy to watch them. In general, I love college football and basketball, so I’ll watch whatever’s on when Wyoming isn’t. Typically I’ll check the upcoming games schedule for the week and try to watch the different televised matchups that seem like they’ll be interesting. Lots of PAC12 teams make the cut, because their women’s and men’s basketball teams are usually pretty good and the football teams are a wild card. I like the chaos of that.
For professional sports, I try to watch NWSL, MLS, European soccer leagues (with a preference for Bundesliga teams) and NBA games when I can. My goal is to be better about watching the WNBA. I don’t love the NFL because I think college football is way more fun, but I am a proud Buffalo Bills fan (my mom makes fun of me because she’s an actual Buffalo Bills fan who grew up an hour away in Rochester). I start following the NFL more closely during playoffs.
Spending most of my life in Colorado I can’t not be a fan of the Rockies, Nuggets, Rapids and Avalanche. Fortunately, I do not follow the Broncos, that seems like a really sad life choice, especially in recent years (yikes, my dudes).
How did you become a fan?
My parents watched football every weekend, so there was no getting away from it growing up. My dad also really liked to watch the NBA (and golf, but I would never say I’m a real golf fan). I played soccer growing up, so I would watch a lot of soccer. This laid the foundation for me transforming into the fan I am now: a fan of most sports but fickle when it comes to teams. I am openly a bandwagon fan.
When I went to college it just made sense to lean all the way into being a Wyoming fan. I loved the community piece of being a fan, and spending Saturdays in a football stadium is really fun. I loved being a fan so much I wanted to work in an athletic department doing marketing and promotions, which is very focused on the fan experience at games.
What is your favorite sports moment?
Let me set the scene, the day is Saturday October 29, 2016, it’s Halloweekend in Laramie, Wyoming. The Wyoming Cowboys are hosting the Boise State Broncos, ranked #13 at the time, for a 7pm kickoff. It’s very chilly, but people show up to support the Pokes. Little do they know that the Pokes will keep up with the Broncos and win 30-28 off a safety.
What is your least favorite sports moment?
When UNI knocked Wyoming out of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament in the first round in 2015. I think about it more often than I should. Didn’t love thinking about it to write about it.
How have sports impacted you and your life?
Sports are what I lean on to pretend to have a personality. In all seriousness, sports have been part of my life since I was five years old. Playing, watching and being part of a community because of sports impacted and probably still affects how I navigate life. As corny as it sounds, playing sports (and this goes for any hobby kids do whether it’s sports, music, art, etc.) taught me how to work hard and fail and try again. Watching sports with other people allows me to connect more easily with them because of the common shared interest. Again, sounding very corny, but I love when sports twitter goes nuts and all these people who would probably never interact outside of this forum come together and bond over whatever LeBron or Tom Brady are doing. I love that sports is a small talk topic that leads to genuine connection.
Is there a particular athlete who inspires you? Why?
I feel like my answer isn’t creative, but I find Serena Williams inspirational. I admire her drive, dedication, resilience, kindness and love for her family. She strives for a level of excellence in everything she does that I find incredibly admirable. She works hard and has the trophies to prove it. She’s faced really ugly racist and sexist comments and hasn’t let those words stop her from pushing forward. Even when she retires from tennis, I think she’ll continue to achieve great things, and basically I want to be like her when I grow up.
What is your hottest sports take?
Denver will win the NBA championship in the next 3-5 years, depending on when this coronavirus stuff is under control. They have a young team, and while the West is stacked, I think that’s probably going to help them get even better.
If you could say one thing and know the entire sports world would listen, what would it be?
This is more for folks working in sports in senior level positions – when front offices and athletic departments operate normally again, pay your people better, offer mental health counseling and realize burnout is real.
Emily grew up in the great state of Colorado, then decided the University of Wyoming sounded like a good time. She’s a three-time University of Wyoming Intramural Champion, which truly contributed to the rec sports office. Since graduating, she has tried to figure out how not to become an adult. To fully commit to this, she’s a part-time cheesecake maker and a semi-pro adventurer. Sometimes she shares her unpopular opinions on sports and life, if this interests you, she can be found on Twitter and Instagram like a true millennial @emilproblems.