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Eternally Optimistic Bear

NCAA Football: Texas at California John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

I’m the kind of sports fan that always is extremely optimistic that we’re going to pull out a win. I put a lot of blame on my youth which was probably because when I became a football fan it was during the golden age of the Niners. A win always seems possible in my mind no matter how much the odds are against us. (I’m lying. I don’t check the odds; they just make me sad.) So I’m here to be your reigning optimist. Your Cheer Bear, if you’ll allow it.

Since this is my first post, I should share some of my journey into Cal fandom. Before I went to Cal, I wasn’t into college sports at all. I didn’t even realize Cal had a football team until Cal Day where I saw a marching band and figured that joining the band was a good way to get free football tickets. My first season, we won that amazing 3OT game against $C and made it to the 2003 Insight Bowl. We were on the rise that year. My second season was 2004. Oh, 2004. It was a shining year for us, Cal fans. But the rain cloud of Holiday Bowl weighed heavily on us. I distinctly remember traveling back with the band after a W in Southern Mississippi the day they were announcing the Rose Bowl teams. I still have PTSD from the Holiday Bowl and I’m resentful towards wiener dog races and any parade less than the Rose Parade.

I don’t have to tell all of you the rest of Cal Football story because you have been riding this roller coaster of fandom with me.

Cal Fans are in a perpetual cycle of fandom:

1) The Ambiguous Phase: This is where we can’t figure out whether we’re going to be a so-so, team or a good team (or worse!). This is the phase where we start building our expectations.

2) The Honeymoon Phase: This is where we see great feats and amazing athleticism for our team. ESPN may not recognize it on their Top10, but these are the moments that live in our Top Ten. We beat a ranked or a rival and it feels so good.

3) The Implosion: See Nate Longshore. Then we go back to that Ambiguous Phase.

This cycle goes on and on and yet we’re still here. The cycle happens across a season, across a game, or across a quarter. So knowing this cycle exists, how do I stay optimistic you ask? That’s a good question. I would be lying if I didn’t say it’s likely delusion; but a good portion is all around faith in blue and gold. I look at these athletes and they are so excited to be on the field, I can’t help but want to be there cheering them on. I remember when I played soccer as a kid wanting to win so badly not just for myself, but for the team. I can only imagine what it’s like to be a college football player with a stadium of 50,000 fans wanting to pull out the W so we can all sing Palms of Victory.

Before I moved to LA, I hadn’t missed a home game in 10 seasons in large part due to my dad’s commitment to watching Cal football. When my dad bought our tickets for new Memorial, he spent 3 hours looking at each seat to see where the best spot would be so he could stand the entire game. He stands the entire game, does all the cheers, and stays until the final second of the game, even when we’re at our worst. That is the optimism I embody myself.

While I know we all have to be realistic in our expectation, there is fun in the hope. It’s what makes the wins taste so good, but the losses taste so bad. I choose to remain positive in times of Implosion mostly because I don’t want to upset the football gods, so we can all have nice things.

The good news is that 2016 has been one of the most fun years that I am remember. The Utah game was a great example of where we can get our optimism. Let’s take at some sources of optimism:

1) Defense – If there is one I definitely underestimated, it’s our defense. I mean, we’re ranked 122 in Red Zone Defense and 108 in Total Defense. The Utah game showed us that our defense can pull out the stops when needed. It also showed us that Sonny Dykes has faith in his guys. So should we.

2) Davis Webb and Chad Hansen – The most boy band looking all stars. The connection between them is better than an *NSYNC harmony. We saw that again in the Utah game. Cal Football seems like the football version of “Tearin Up My Heart” - it’s tearin’ up our hearts when we’re losing, and when we win we feel it too… I’m going to love this duo as long as we have it.

3) Our second defeat of a ranked team in Memorial – When is the last time we did that?! (Thanks, Avinash for being a bud and reminding me that was 2009 against Arizona and the ‘Furd.)

4) We got votes! - That means there are people out there who like us and are seeing we’re doing good work.

We still have a good part of the season to go so I’m going to keep hope alive and keep tweeting blue and gold emojis until and after my Bears bring me roses.