From 2-4 p.m. Sunday, August 12, fans of all ages excitedly gathered to form a sea of orange and blue that flowed through all levels of the arena to show support for Auburn sports and athletics.
Spirited band music played through the PA system and orange and blue banners brightly welcomed the fans on high-tech video boards while hundreds lined up for autographs and pictures with members of women’s soccer, women’s volleyball, and men's football teams as well as assorted cheerleaders and Tiger Paws.
Auburn native Jessica O’Donnell brought her children, Maddie, 4, and Trip, 3, to their first Fan Day this year.
“They’re getting old enough to understand it, so we’re starting them off on the right foot,” said O’Donnell.
The returning starters took their places at tables in the middle of the practice gym with orange and blue signs identifying the name of each player at their respective signing station.
For players like junior linebacker Jake Holland, Fan Day is an enjoyable and "welcome break from practice."
“Fan Day is always an exciting time,” Holland said. “You get to meet the fans, the people who will be cheering you on all season. It really makes it personal.”
Junior defensive end Corey Lemonier agreed and said seeing the admiration of the fans adds purpose to their play.
“We play for them all the time,” Lemonier said. “This is why we practice.”
Star senior tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen’s signing station attracted the second-most fans due to his flashy and memorable offensive performances, while Gene Chizik handled the longest line of the day.
Chizik’s signing station was located in a separate room near the arena lobby with an extensive line of hundreds, wrapping from one side of the arena to the other. Many fans waited over an hour for a chance to meet with the coach.
Also on the second level, fans were given the opportunity to have their photograph taken with the mascot, Aubie.
Lieutenant Colonel Bob Bowman, 54, said he, his wife Janet, 52, and his three children make up a “sports family” and that Auburn football and Fan Day are ways of keeping his family together.
The Baltimore native became an Auburn fan when in 1979 when he moved south with his family for to attend U.S. Army flight schooling at Ft. Rucker.
“When we tailgate, our sons, their girlfriends, our daughter, and her boyfriend all come and it’s like a mini-Thanksgiving for us,” said Bowman. “We don’t have to share (our children) with other families, and we get them for eight more weekends every year.”
Bowman also said he finds the autographed memorabilia to be great Christmas presents for other family members who can't make it to the plains.
Memorabilia to have autographed, such as helmets and jerseys, were available for purchase in the practice gym.
Due to the heavy crowd on Fan Day, the Athletic Department worked with the Auburn Police Department to maintain security and safety of visitors.
“We leave it up to the Athletic Department to determine how they want to staff us based on the crowd they’re expecting,” said Lieutenant Will Matthews.
Matthews said once his team arrives, the commander of the detail will adjust as needed and the team touches base with Athletics to offer advice regarding moving personnel to match the crowd and ensure efficiency.
“As long as we communicate with each other, everything works out,” said Matthews.
This security and safety is important as families gather to become one family—the Auburn family.