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With the 2023 UTSA Football season only a few days away, it was the Marriott Rivercenter ballroom that the Roadrunner faithful was packing out. After months of preparation, promotion, and anticipation, the first annual Roadrunner Kickoff Luncheon was hugely successful. The two-hour event had a little bit of everything. There was both a live and silent auction, time for mingling and pictures, words of encouragement from the City of San Antonio leadership, and, appropriately so, an appearance by the Spirit of San Antonio to open the event.
I had an opportunity to attend the inaugural event. Thanks to the generosity of Dr. Buddy Swift and winning a Twitter/X giveaway facilitated by April Ancira, I and seven other UTSA students could enjoy the festivities. You have probably seen the pictures circling social media of the event’s enjoyment. Here are some of my main takeaways from the luncheon.
First things first, the luncheon needs to happen every year. The proximity to the start of the season added the right amount of buzz and excitement. Those in attendance were treated to what I assume is the new hype/intro video that plays to kickoff home games at the Dome. The luncheon was casual enough that before and after, you could talk to different players and coaches, snap a quick picture, or, like some young – possibly future UTSA students – get memorabilia signed. From the check-in process to the meal being served and the overall order of events, the logistics ran smoothly, and I didn’t find myself standing around aimlessly, wondering what to do next.
It was great to see current friends and meet new ones. As the program continues to grow, it still encapsulates the “big city, small town” feeling that San Antonio as a city offers. I found myself continuously bumping into fans and friends I’ve come to know by being involved in the UTSA community. It was also great to meet new fans of not only UTSA but supporters of Alamo Audible. In a time when social media provides the platform that it does, it is refreshing to have the opportunity to put a face to a name or username.
I look forward to the rest of the season and other UTSA athletic events to continue to meet new Roadrunners and reconnect with friends.
This city is behind UTSA. This was not the first time we have seen a UTSA athletics event with leadership from the City of San Antonio and big donors from the private sector. Fans heard from Mayor Ron Nirenberg, Bexar County Judge Peter Sakai, and Bob and Peggy Wills from the PM group. Event Co-Chairs April Ancira and Martin Salinas also spoke. San Antonio is looking for a wagon to hitch its ride to. At the collegiate level, for now, that is the UTSA Roadrunners. For better or worse, this city gets behind winning teams. UTSA Football is winning now. In a day and age where NIL plays the role it does, and there is always a facility improvement to be made, these partnerships are vital to continued success.
It is unique because these people seem to have a genuine passion. Yes, they care about the program, but they care about these student-athletes. They care about their development and growth beyond the field. They are providing financial support, but they are also helping prepare them for life after the game.
Dr. Lisa Campos and Coach Traylor are the right people guiding the ship. The UTSA athletics department and UTSA Football program are in good hands under these two. I won’t puff you up that things are perfect, and I don’t believe they would either. They would both acknowledge that there is always room for growth and improvement. But investigating that is for another day. It is evident how much work Dr. Campos is putting in to bring in more support, donors, and fundraising. Like the key players mentioned above, it is clear how much she cares about these student-athletes.
Coach Traylor had me and everyone else in that ballroom ready to run through a brick wall. To no surprise, his speech was motivating and pointed. He talked about what has stayed the same but what has changed since his initial arrival on campus. He had a humble but direct way of reminding us how important our support is. He also managed to throw in a “hotter than fish-grease” tagline. Although he went over his self-appointed five minutes, he left the stage to a resounding applause of approval and a standing ovation.
When UTSA Football wins, everyone wins. Yesterday’s event was focused on the football team. There is a secondary and tertiary effect, however, that benefits all of UTSA athletics. Whether it be TV deals, bowl game payouts, or support from the community, it all trends upward. The luncheon event webpage mentioned, “All net proceeds from this event will benefit UTSA athletic recruitment efforts.” What exactly will that look like? Unfortunately, as we would like to say in the military, “that’s above my pay grade.” We know that a successful, marketable, and national brand benefits everyone.
The last thing I was impressed with, but have seen before, was the team’s interaction with the Roadrunner fans. The players enjoyed this event. Each table had at least one UTSA football player sitting with them. They were engaging, genuine, and appreciative of our support. This is the UTSA athletics culture, though. Like above, it is a direct effect of what Dr. Campos and Coach Traylor instill in their staff that trickles down to the student-athletes. The enjoyment of visiting with so many of the team separated this from being a fundraising-driven luncheon. It added the extra flair that makes being a Roadrunner so special.
Who knows how the season is going to go? This week Coach Traylor, his staff, and the 2023 UTSA football team will take the field in Houston. Pre-season hype will be in the rearview mirror. The wins and losses will be determined on the field, and the age-old saying, “That’s why you play the game,” will lead the way. I know one thing is for sure. We better buckle up and enjoy the ride. Birds Up!
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