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  • Ian Livingston Brooking

Is it a sin to bleed something other than teal?

“You know you want to wear that teal, white and black…. AND BRONZE!”

Let’s be honest, you sang that line in your head when you read it.

Ever since Coastal Carolina became an independent university in 1993, the university has been pouring their efforts in building the Chanticleer brand. That effort increased exponentially when Coastal Carolina football played its first season back in 2003. As football and many other athletic programs (men’s basketball, men’s soccer, baseball and volleyball to name a few) become more and more successful season after season, the name ‘Chanticleer’ was being talked about more and more.

The Chanticleer brand exploded in popularity after a group of guys from Conway fought and stormed their way to Omaha, ultimately winning the 2016 NCAA College World Series.

“It is really cool now because not many people don’t know who we are now,” said Coastal Carolina head baseball coach Gary Gilmore. “One of the coolest things in my lifetime that has changed was driving up and down the roads of Horry County and seeing South Carolina and Clemson all over the place to now seeing Coastal Carolina all over the place.”

Coastal Carolina is all over the place, especially on campus. No matter where you look, you are bound to see the color teal at least once a day, if not once every hour. It is on benches, buildings, signs, apparel and even our CINO cards.

However, behind all that teal we see on campus, there are a few other colors that may catch your eye. Colors that are not linked to CCU, rather they are that of another university. Colors like the Wildcat Blue of Kentucky, Clemson Orange, Gamecock Garnet and Black or even the nauseating color combination of Liberty’s blue, white and red.

Coastal Carolina is a mixed bag of students from all over the United States and the world. Coastal Carolina has one of the largest out-of-state student populations in the state of South Carolina at 51 percent of CCU students hailing from 46 different states. USC has an out-of-state population of 41 percent. Clemson’s out-of-state students make up 38 percent of their student body while colleges like Charleston Southern and College of Charleston have even smaller out-of-state enrollments at 17.5 percent and 31.4 percent, respectively.

Even with over half of Coastal’s student population being out-of-state, there are still some in-state students that love Coastal Carolina but also have love for other institutions, including ones like Clemson and South Carolina.

Rebekah Oakley is from the Horry County area but transferred to Coastal after attending College of Charleston. However, while she does love CCU, she also has a soft spot in her heart for Clemson.

“My sister was a part of the video team at Clemson several years ago when Clemson wasn’t the powerhouse they are now,” said Oakley. “I also went to high school with Hunter Renfrow, who scored the game-winning touchdown in the 2017 championship game, so seeing him, a former classmate, go through what he went through to get to that moment was rewarding.”

Megan Hoverman, a former Coastal Carolina student who graduated in 2017 with a degree in Recreation and Sports Management, was a member of the Student Chanticleer Athletic Foundation (SCAF). SCAF has a primary goal of getting students engaged about everything Coastal Carolina Athletics, not just football and baseball.

As a child, Hoverman had to have several surgeries between the ages of three and eight. Most of these surgeries happened at Duke University Hospital.

“When you spend months and months in the Duke University Hospital, you kind of grow into becoming a Duke fan,” said Hoverman. “Growing up in North Carolina, you have to choose. Dark blue for Duke or light blue for UNC. The red of North Carolina State isn’t even an option.”

Hoverman has been a women’s college athletics sports fan as long as she can remember. It is why one of her two minors she obtained while at CCU was in sport coaching. Hoverman hopes to be a coach for a college team one day, just like her coaching idol, former Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summit.

“I learned about Tennessee through watching women’s sports,” said Hoverman. “Seeing how great she was as a coach and how amazing her teams were just inspired me and she is someone I would love to be like one day.”

Hoverman recalled her first game at the HTC Center and how it inspired her.

“My first game, I saw the saw the seat that Jaida was sitting in and told myself ‘I want that seat’,” said Hoverman. “It became a major goal of mine to coach at the Division One level. Maybe not at Coastal – I mean, if they hired me, great. However, going to games and seeing that seat where the head coach sits inspired me to chase that goal of coaching.”

Hoverman’s love for women’s sports followed her to Coastal Carolina, where she got really close to several players on the women’s basketball team here.

“Growing up, I was watching the best of the best play at Duke and Tennessee,” said Hoverman. “So, while I was at CCU, I started to wonder who these players actually were. I wanted to know how Coastal Carolina was able to find them and convince them to be a Chanticleer. I became so devoted to the team. Eventually, I started seeing players from that team more and more on campus and I became close with them. It first started with taking selfies and talking with them and that was just shocking to me because you don’t see that on normal campuses. That is what made Coastal special.”

Unfortunately, some of the players that Hoverman came to befriend ended up transferring.

“I didn’t really ask at first what was going into their decision because that wasn’t any of my business,” said Hoverman. “However, I eventually started talking with them and found out where they were going and before I knew it, I was printing off their game schedules for the next season and promising them, people I barely knew, that I was going to try to watch as many of their games as possible. That was the moment I realized how much those players made an impact on my life.”

Even though the players that Hoverman talked about have long graduated from the school they transferred to after CCU, she is still a huge fan of that school. And on gamedays, you can guarantee that Hoverman is wearing that school’s gear as proudly as she would on a CCU game day.

In a way, my story is a lot like Hoverman’s.

I was born and raised in the heart of Big Blue Nation. I grew up listening to Tom Leach, the voice of the Kentucky Wildcats, on the radio. I lived through some dark times as a Kentucky fan, watching the football team lose to Ohio University, Indiana and Vanderbilt. And yet, it seemed that all that heartache was worthwhile as I watched those Cats finally beat Florida after 31 years and win 10 games in a single season for the first time since 1977.

My parents were still in high school when that happened (sorry, mom and dad).

The other thing I grew up with in the Bluegrass state, that I still carry with me and will for the rest of my life, is a massive scar on my chest. A scar caused by having to have open-heart surgery at 21 months old. When I was born, I was diagnosed with a ventricular septal defect (VSD), which is a hole in the wall separating the two lower chambers of the heart.

On Mar. 16, 1999, doctors at the University of Kentucky hospital in Lexington operated on me and fixed me up as best as they can. Twenty years later, I still have to see a cardiologist to ensure that my VSD has not gotten any worse.

I may have been born in Wildcat Country but if it wasn’t for medical professionals at UK, I do not think the chapter of my life here at Coastal Carolina would have been possible. I never would have had the chance to visit this incredible and lively university. I never would have meet some of my closest friends. I never would have been able to gain the bonds with several campus administrators that I have now.

If it was not for my die hard loving for Kentucky, I would just be an ordinary student that may wear teal on Tuesdays.

Many of those who know me, classmates and administrators, have seen me wear my Kentucky stuff on campus before. However, there are some people that fail to realize something about me. And this is my undying love for this campus.

I love Coastal Carolina. I love wear my teal. I love getting fist bumps from Chauncey. I love how I was able to grow as a person and become the person I am today and the person I will eventually become. I love that Coastal Carolina has given me so many opportunities to shine and make an impact on someone’s life.

I will always love Coastal Carolina. And I will always love Kentucky. Both have had massive influences on my life. Influences that I am incredibly grateful for.

Yes, people will try to stop me from wearing Kentucky gear on campus but one thing is for certain – you can never take the Kentucky out of me.

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