SE: Fan Appreciation Day an Attraction for All

The autographs and pictures with players may highlight the event, but K-State’s Fan Appreciation Day — held at Bill Snyder Family Stadium on Saturday — brings people in for a number of other reasons.  

Hearing Voice of the Wildcats Wyatt Thompson belt out, “Kansas State football is back!” gave some fans all the satisfaction they needed from the event. It served as a reminder of how close Wildcat fans are to football, which begins for K-State at Stanford on Friday, September 2. 

The fresh slate offers fans plenty to dream about for the season. Plus, it gives them something to look forward to each week.  

“To me, it doesn’t matter. It’s football, and it’s K-State,” said Pam Bevan of Cottonwood Falls, who’s held season tickets for more than 15 years. “I’ll be here whether it’s the best season we’ve ever had or the worst one. I’m just excited the football season’s going to be starting.”

For Mark and Theresa Gram, entering their 10th year as season-ticket holders, the chance to interact with players on the field is worth the roughly 70-mile trip from Clyde. 

“It’s one of my favorite football days of the year. All the home games, the spring game and this, where you can interact with the players,” Mark Gram said. “All the years we’ve been coming, all these kids are always nice and polite and ‘yes, sir,’ and ‘thank you, sir.’”

Others relish the chance to watch K-State’s final hour of practice, giving them their first look at the team since the Purple/White Spring Game in April. 

“I’m excited. I think we’re going to have a much-improved team this year,” said Darren Shults, the first person in a line that eventually snaked up and down the parking lot to get into the stadium. “I’m just excited to come out and watch.” 

Shults, who runs the Lambs of God service at the Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Topeka, also partook in the autograph chasing, but not for personal keepsakes. 

“We raffle (an autographed) football and it raises money for our ministry,” Shults said. “That’s why I come in and get the autographs.”

Charlotte Adair and Lee Geary, grandmother and mother to K-State defensive tackle Will Geary, respectively, found joy in watching children get autographs. As former University of Kansas fans, they also said they enjoy every opportunity to put on purple now. 

“Will swayed us,” Lee Geary said of her son, a First Team All-Big 12 selection last year. “I went to KU, but now we’re all about K-State. I threw away all of my KU gear.”

“We love the atmosphere (at K-State) and the new stadium is just beautiful. The new big (video) boards are great. And the band, I love the band,” Adair added, complimenting the addition of the Carl & Mary Ice Family Video Board in the northeast corner of the stadium, as spot that will occupy the Pride of Wildcat Land band with the completion of Phase 3B in the Bill Snyder Family Stadium Master Plan.

Before the Wildcats’ home opener against Florida Atlantic on September 17, Geary’s family members will make the trip out to Palo Alto, California, where more than 5,000 K-State fans will watch their team clash with Stanford, the seventh-ranked team in the country in the Amway Coaches Poll. 

“That’ll be a good trip. We’re very excited,” Geary’s mother said. “It’ll be a good way to kick off the season.”

“I hope we can beat them. It’s a great starting game,” Adair added. “If we can show well on that, we should have a really good season.” 

Most K-State fans will watch from afar as the Wildcats look to open the season with an upset, one Mark Gram said isn’t as unlikely as some may think. 

“I think they’re going to surprise a lot of people,” Gram said. “I think they may push Stanford. I may be dreaming, but who knows. I’m a glass-half-full kind of guy.”