Husker tailgates: celebrating community

  • Some of the Rowens' closest family friends come to their tailgate - so close, that when one friend asked them to be bridesmaids in her upcoming wedding, shrieks of joy were the only response.

By Katie Knight, NewsNetNebraska

Omaha sophomore Schylir Rowen can’t even remember her first Husker tailgate.

Oh gosh,” the elementary education major said. “I can’t even remember my first time tailgating. Before I could even talk, honestly.”

The humming of RV engines, burgers sizzling on the grill, parking lots flooded with Nebraska-themed everything — it’s just always been a part of her life. In fact, her parents started the tailgating tradition before Schylir was even born: more than 20 years ago when they were in college themselves.

“Tailgating just makes the atmosphere beforehand super fun, and you get really pumped,” Schylir said. “It’s really fun to see everyone before the game and just get to hang out. The game is fun and all, but I think hanging out with everybody beforehand is probably my favorite part.”

Although the Rowen family has always been tailgating, only last year did they decide to buy an RV and have their own tailgate for their friends and family. Since both of their daughters were now in school at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, they decided to take advantage of having them both in the same place.

“The tailgate is easily my favorite part, just because we get to share it with our girls,” Jeff Rowen – Schylir’s father – said. “Before the game and after the game they’re here with their Delta Gamma friends and the rest of their friends on campus. We have a snapshot in time, right now while they’re in school here, to do this.”

Preparing food for 20 to 30 people requires a bit of hard work, Jeff said. Starting on Thursday, Jeff’s wife Teresa Rowen will create a tailgate menu and start cooking. Much of Friday is then spent packing up the RV full of the food, drinks, chairs and games. Saturday game days are a day-long ordeal, of course. Finally, all of Sunday is spent cleaning and emptying out for the next game weekend.

The days of work and cooking and preparation aside, though, Teresa said she would never trade it for the time she gets to spend with her daughters and closest friends.

“We feel very fortunate that we have girls who like to spend time with us and we love spending time with their friends,” Teresa said. “Everybody tells us ‘Oh, tailgating is so much work,’ but it’s so worth it. We just love it.”


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