BYU Football Game Day with Dad
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Bringing Him Back

When this grad was young, nothing was worse than a BYU home game.

A vintage photo of LaVell Edwards Stadium during a football game in the early 80s.
Photo by Mark Philbrick

Back when LaVell was still roaming the sidelines with a scowl, my dad bought lifetime BYU football stadium seats. Dad lived and breathed BYU football—but my mom couldn’t stand the game. 

So from the end of August to November, she arranged for me to take her place as Dad’s date for every home game. As a tow-headed 10-year-old girl who loved Barbies and kittens, I was more like my mom—nothing was worse than those home-game Saturdays. I would have rather stayed home with my dolls. 

Photo by Mark Philbrick

To beat the crowd to a close parking spot, we had to get there early—several hours before kickoff. Then I’d sit for more long hours in that expensive metal chair while the clock stopped a thousand times for a bazillion whistles. Dad attempted to explain the game to me, but none of the yard-line or strategy jargon ever computed. It was all gibberish to me. 

My lack of enthusiasm never tempered Dad’s passion. If the Cougs were behind, Dad’s hands would sweat while he stood and yelled at the refs. When the tide turned Dad would yip and cheer along with the crowd when the quarterback (someone named Young) would throw a complete pass. I was immune to and mystified by the emotional ups and downs shared by the crowd around me. 

My boredom would lift briefly with the arrival of blessed halftime. I’d get my hot dog and watch the Cougarettes, cheerleaders, and Cosmo. I couldn’t figure out why they weren’t the main event. 

My reprieve over, the game would return for yet more hours. As we’d finally inch our way home in the after-game traffic, Dad relived the whole miserable thing by listening to the post-game recap and analysis on the radio. I never imagined that one day I would miss it all. 

Dad died 13 years ago. 

When my daughter started cheerleading, I ventured back to a football stadium for the first time since childhood—and was surprised that it felt like coming home and finding Dad. I felt him in the energy of the band’s music, the national anthem, the yard-line verbiage, and the emotions of the crowd. I loved the atmosphere—not because I changed my mind about the game, but because it brought back Dad for me. 

Every year I find myself tuning in briefly for a BYU football game or two. How are they doing this year? Would Dad be proud? I loved watching on during the football season of 2020. That year was devoid of many joys, but BYU football came through and was ranked in the top 10 nationally. After many of the games on their schedule were canceled due to COVID, BYU miraculously managed to schedule enough teams to play an 11-game regular season. The team won nearly every one, often by a landslide. The quarterback, Zach M. K. Wilson (’20), threw beautiful passes that went many yard lines for touchdowns. Scouts from the NFL came to games in hopes to take him from BYU before his senior year. I followed it all, always thinking: Dad would have loved this! 

Some years, like 2020, are tough, just like some seasons of football are less than stellar. You win some, you lose some. It’s still fun to be at the game, get the hot dogs, and be with the ones you love. I’m thankful BYU football provided the opportunity to make memories with my dad. And I’m thankful it continues to bring him back to me. 

Headshot of Melissa Camacho

Melissa Camacho is a married mother of four and a private-school writing teacher.   

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In Letters from Home Y Magazine publishes essays by alumni about family-life experiences—as parents, spouses, grandparents, children. Essays should be 700 words and written in first-person voice. Y Magazine will pay $350 for essays published in Letters from Home. Send submissions to