By Jeffrey Sadownick, For The Miami Student
When it comes to football, there are fans, there are super fans and then there's Andy Stefanopoulos. He has attended every Miami RedHawks football home game since 1954, along with many away games, as well. As sure as the sun rises each morning, Stefanopoulos will be at each Miami home game.
Last weekend marked Stefanopoulos' 284th game and coincided with Miami's 100th Homecoming celebration. Stefanopoulos was named this year's Homecoming grand marshal and was honored along with the rest of the homecoming royalty at Yager stadium at halftime during Saturday's game. Although he wasn't as tall as some of the student royalty standing next to him on the field, he certainly had the biggest presence.
"It was an honor," Stefanopoulus said. "I was humbled. It was nice to be out there. I just want to support Miami. When Ray Mock called me a few weeks ago and told me I was selected, I was touched."
Ray Mock, the assistant vice president of the Miami University Alumni Association and longtime friend of Stefanopoulos, wanted to recognize Stefanopoulos' dedication.
"Andy is the consummate Miami fan," he said. "I'd give anything to have thousands of fans like him."
Stefanopoulos was a fan of Miami even before he was a student here. In his youth, the Cincinnati resident attended many University of Cincinnati football games. One cold day when Miami came to Cincinnati, a few Miami fans offered Stefanopoulos a blanket, and he repaid the favor by cheering for their team.
Soon, he developed a deeper connection to Miami.
"I just like Miami University," he said. "I have a lot of friends who go to the games with me. It's not just the football game. It's about being with friends in a beautiful atmosphere."
Stefanopoulos said he never set out to set a record. Going to Miami games simply became part of his Saturday ritual ever since he was a student. In fact, he didn't realize what his Saturday ritual had become until long after it started.
"It wasn't for 15 to 20 years that I realized, 'Hey, I've been to every game,'" Stefanopoulos said.
The 77-year-old Stefanopoulos said he enjoys the game for what it is, no matter if Miami wins or loses. During the 1980s, he once went to 120 consecutive games - home and away - all for the love of football.
"Football to me is a game where you don't have to be the most talented in the world," he said. "It's an emotional game."
Stefanopoulos said he believes a good coach can bring out that emotion. He cited Miami greats like Bill Mallory and Randy Walker as coaches who knew how to get the most out of their players.
Of course, Stefanopoulos doesn't mind winning, either.
"We didn't have a losing season until 1976. I got spoiled," Stefanopoulos joked.
Stefanopoulos said he cannot name a single game as his favorite because there have been so many great ones.
"There've been too many of them," he said. "There's the time Ben Roethlisberger was here. I remember one game in the '70s when we beat Kent State."
Nothing keeps Stefanopoulos from seeing Miami games each Saturday in the fall. He said his family even understood when he wanted his daughter's wedding ceremony to start later than usual so he could attend the game that day.
"Both my kids went to Miami," Stefanopoulus said. "We're all kind of Miami people."
Through sunshine and rain, through winning seasons and losing seasons, Stefanopoulos has stuck with Miami -- and doesn't plan on stopping any time soon.
"I know good games will come in the future, so I'll keep plugging away," he said.