COLUMBIA — The Golden Girls and cheerleaders weren’t the only people wearing sparkling costumes at the Missouri football team’s fan day on Sunday at Memorial Stadium.
In the middle of the winding lines leading to the white tents that housed the Tigers' seniors and starters Genia Vincent and her daughter Lauren Vincent stood out in the late afternoon sunshine. The women wore black Missouri football T-shirts that they had emblazoned with sparkling gold and silver sequins. Shimmering letters covered their backs, prominently displaying the name Vincent.
The two women made the shirts to support freshman defensive lineman Lucas Vincent, who is Genia Vincent’s son and Lauren Vincent’s brother.
“We just ordered jerseys,” Genia Vincent said. “We don’t have them yet, so instead of spending another $30 or $40 on shirts for everyone, we made these.”
The Vincents brought a group of friends with them from Olathe, Kan., to support Lucas Vincent in his first fan day as a Tiger. They planned to get as many autographs as possible, and Genia Vincent hastily snapped pictures of as many players as she could.
The autographed posters and pictures were more than just sentimental memorabilia for the Vincents to take back to Kansas, however. Genia Vincent admitted to having an ulterior motive. She said she plans to take a signed poster back to her son’s former high school, Olathe North, to compete with all of the Kansas Jayhawks memorabilia that dominates the town.
“I’m going to put it there next to all those KU posters,” she said with a smile.
Unlike the Vincents, brothers Nicholas, age 15, and Michael Godas, 17, live in the heart of Missouri football country. Wearing black and gold Tigers football T-shirts, the two Rock Bridge High School students waited in line to see some of their favorite players, including Blaine Gabbert and Rolandis Woodland.
Nicholas, who plays football for Rock Bridge, hopes that the time he spent on the field Sunday will not be his last.
“Yeah, I want to go here,” he said. “I want to play football for Mizzou.”
Along with aspiring MU students, much of the crowd was proud MU graduates, including David McAllister. After descending the steep steps of Memorial Stadium, McAllister headed straight for the Golden Girls, in order to get what his wife called the “annual picture.”
“He’s only missed one of these fan days, just one,” his wife, Lura McAllister, said.
A Missouri native who now lives in Jefferson City, David McAllister is a lifelong fan.
“I’ve been a fan since I went to my first game when I was 10,” he said. “I especially like watching the defense.”
Between the winding lines, most of the non-starters and younger players mingled, guzzling water and talking. One of the players, junior wide receiver Terry Dennis, stood out as a crowd favorite.
“I’d hate to be sitting,” Dennis said. “I’m such a people person.”
Standing at midfield, Dennis grinned for photo after photo with boys who, standing on tip-toe, were barely taller than his knees. Running back and forth, the boys greeted Dennis with enthusiasm and didn’t seem the least bit intimidated by his 6-foot-3, 205-pound frame.
“They’re my buddies,” he said. “I know them from all the stuff I do around town.”
This “stuff” includes volunteer work at football camps, Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Boys and Girls Clubs.
“They’ll run up to me and say, ‘Hey, I know you from camp,’” Dennis said.
One boy, out of breath with flushed cheeks, ran up to Dennis and tossed him a bottle of cool water. With a smile and a pat on the back, Dennis bent down, his bare knee resting on the scorching hot Astroturf, for yet another picture. Despite the heat, the fans kept coming and the players kept smiling.
“It’s like a second wind,” Dennis said. “You’re tired … but you get here and see the fans and you’re ready to go.”