SHREVEPORT, La. -- Either Hannah Bowlin is trying to impress her fiancé or she has quickly taken to the Missouri Tigers.
Bowlin, 17, was one of about 150 fans who came to Pierre Bossier Mall in Bossier City, La., on Monday afternoon to gather Tigers’ autographs. She was the only person getting her leg cast signed, though.
After having surgery on a broken knee on Dec. 22, Bowlin was wearing a cast from her left ankle to thigh. She slid her leg down the rows and rows of tables where the players sat.
“Now I’ve seen it all,” sophomore quarterback Brandon Coleman said as he signed Bowlin’s blue cast.
In the past year, Bowlin has become a Missouri fan because of her fiancé, Bill Gartner Jr.
Gartner, 20, is a Columbia native stationed at Barksdale Air Force Base near Shreveport. Bowlin is from Bossier City.
“I never watched football until we got together,” Bowlin said.
Gartner and Bowlin have been together for about a year. Bowlin went to her first Missouri game on Nov. 29 against Iowa State. She hopes to attend MU in the fall.
Fans from across the country have started arriving in Shreveport for Wednesday’s Independence Bowl. Missouri plays Arkansas in the 6:30 p.m. game.
Tigers boosters Darrell and Doris Casey left for Shreveport on Saturday from Davenport, Fla., a 950-mile trip. They spent nights in Mobile, Ala., and Vicksburg, Miss.
The Caseys live in St. Joseph, Mo., in the summer and in Florida in the winter. They attend games at Faurot Field until they leave for Florida in October.
Darrell Casey had the team sign a hat, which he said he was going to wear to the game. Doris Casey passed around her complimentary Independence Bowl poster to the players.
“We should get the award for traveling the farthest,” Darrell Casey told Missouri coach Gary Pinkel as Pinkel signed the hat.
“Well, thank you for coming,” Pinkel said.
To pass time before Wednesday’s game, the Caseys plan to visit the IMAX Theater and the Red River Entertainment District in downtown Shreveport.
“We’ve been waiting for this one,” Darrell Casey said. “As soon as I heard about it I said, ‘Oh yeah, we’re going to that one.’”
Gina Hager, Holly Linneman, Mark Reynolds and Daniel Brandkamp left Kansas City on Sunday night and arrived in Shreveport at 10:30 a.m. Monday. Hager and Linneman are MU students, Reynolds graduated from MU this month and Brandkamp is from Columbia.
Although the group was still tired from its drive, they found time to check out the local restaurant scene. They raved about Crawdaddy’s Kitchen, a seafood restaurant.
“I could have gone to Chicago or here,” Brandkamp said. “I chose here. Why not?”
The students plan to go to Harrah’s Casino to watch the Missouri-Belmont basketball game tonight. Other fans are meeting at Banana Joe’s to watch the game after a 5 p.m. pep rally at Shreveport’s Expo Hall.
Reynolds attended one football game in the regular season, but decided the trip to Shreveport was important because of the game’s importance.
“We figured we’d go all out,” Reynolds said.