Georgia fans react to the Bulldogs winning the national championship

Published 3:00 pm Saturday, January 15, 2022

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By Iris Hersey

Several Troup County residents found themselves on cloud nine on Monday when the Georgia Bulldogs defeated Alabama to win the College Football Playoff National Championship. Some citizens opted to make the trek to Indianapolis, while others enjoyed the game from the comfort of their own home. One fan even cheered the team on from a Disney vacation with their family.

Kathy Newman, a long-time UGA fan and alum, found herself in the stadium cheering on the Dawgs. She said she gave them all the support she could during the game.

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“The game was pretty close there for the first half and everything, so we were just doing our best to cheer whenever our team was on defense,” Newman said. “During commercial breaks, I would just sit down and take a rest and be ready to go back at it.”

Newman attended the game with her husband of 39 years. She said the two are lifelong Bulldog fans, and they follow the team around the country as often as they can.

“We’ve been married 39 years, so we follow the Dawgs around a lot. We both grew up in Athens. I’ve got two degrees from UGA. We’ve been to like four Sugar Bowls. We were in that 2017 game, where we beat Auburn,” Newman said.

Summer Deal also found herself at the game on Monday. She said she is actually an Auburn fan, but she had no problem cheering on the Dawgs that night.

“I’m actually an Auburn graduate, so I went to be a good wife and a good business partner because they were all big Georgia fans,” Deal said. “We were very nervous about going because we really thought Alabama was going to steal the game in the last minute like they always do. It was the most amazing experience because they didn’t. It was just so exciting to be there.”

Deal said her group and the other UGA fans were not fazed by the freezing temperatures on Monday night.

“Before the game, everybody was complaining about the cold. Nobody was complaining afterwards because there was so much happiness and joy over the win,” Deal said. “We went back to our hotel, and everybody was out in the lobby partying. It was a lot of fun and very exciting. My business partner had brought a bottle of celebratory bourbon with us on the trip to drink in case we won, so we enjoyed that.”

Ruth Waldrop watched the game on Monday from the comfort of her own home with her fiancé, Dan Blanton. She said he was making sure he did everything possible to help the Bulldogs.

“He was optimistic, but at the same time, still not wanting to get too, too excited about it. I know about halfway through he was checking himself to see what clothes … he had on last time they won,” Waldrop said.

Waldrop said sharing the win with him was priceless, and she loved watching him when his team won.

“I don’t even know the correct word to describe it with him. It was definitely breathtaking and just hold your breath until it finishes out,” Waldrop said. “But to watch him have that moment was definitely priceless.”

Wally Barrett, a Hogansville native who now lives in Hawaii, said he did not attend the game in person, but shared the moment with his family at a Disney Resort. He said the Bulldogs are something he shares with his three-year-old son, Jude. Earlier this year, he and his wife saw their son’s passion for the team.

“I walked out and my son came in and was like, ‘I want to watch football’. My wife I came in and he was sitting there glued to the TV. My wife’s an Auburn fan, so she’s like, ‘you’ve converted him,’” Barrett said. “He’s always had Georgia memorabilia, clothes and everything. But that was the moment like he went and grabbed his shirt. He was ready to watch football.” 

It was at the resort where his son inspired him to take a picture with the University of Georgia flag.

“We were at the Disney Resort and he said, ‘Go Dawgs!’ I went and got the flag,” Barrett said.

Troup High Alum and current University of Georgia student, Collin Sanders, celebrated the win on the field as a member of the Red Coats Band. He said his mother is what inspired him to be a Georgia fan.

“She’s the reason I am a Georgia fan. She graduated from Georgia, and so that’s the reason I’ve loved Georgia this many years. She’s always been someone I look up to. I want to continue that legacy of going to Georgia and being a part of the Georgia Bulldogs,” Collin said.

Andrea Sanders, Collin’s mother, said she and her husband always encouraged their son to follow his passions.

“We’ve always encouraged them to just go after whatever they want in life and set goals. That was Collins goal to go to [UGA’ and be in the Red Coat band,” Andrea said. “He made it happen. I couldn’t be prouder of him.”

Collin said being a member of the Red Coats Band has been a dream come true for him.

“To be able to be on the field during a national championship game is more than I could have ever imagined,” he said. “I’m so thankful to God and to my parents for their support and help in helping me realize my dream.”

Tim Moore was at the game and said he was so excited after the win that he drove straight back home.

“I was so excited. I got in the car and just drove straight home. I had two make short stops and had to close my eyes for about an hour at a rest stop and then I fed them breakfast to re-energize,” Moore said. “I was so pumped. I drove straight back to LaGrange except for a pit-stop in Newnan to buy some gear.”

Moore said he recognizes Monday night as being something the new generation of Bulldogs will always remember. He heard the same sentiment from UGA radio broadcaster Scott Howard on his drive home back to LaGrange with his family.

“Scott Howard said, this is for a new generation of Bulldogs. My daughter, she’s a student [and] my 16-year-old son, this is all for them. This is what they know. This is their memory,” Moore said. This is [like] my childhood memory. This is their Herschel Walker moment. When I was a child [in 1980], I jumped up on the bed and broke the bed. This is their moment.”