‚ÄúNorthern‚Äôs put a great program together.¬†I‚Äôm very proud of it, as an alum, I‚Äôm very excited and couldn‚Äôt be happier for not only what we‚Äôre here for ‚Äď the bowl game ‚Äď but also what they‚Äôve done off the field academically and in the community.‚ÄĚ
Those are the words of 1992 graduate Dennis Litz, who traveled down from Atlanta with his wife, Charlene (1991) and children to support the Huskies and take part of all of the festivities associated with the Discover Orange Bowl.
Litz and his family were among the many Huskie fans ringing in 2013 on Orange Bowl Eve at the Fort Lauderdale Downtown Countdown.¬†They try to get to as many NIU events as they can and have supported the Huskies when they played in Tennessee and other places in the South.
‚ÄúWe went to Mobile last year for the GoDaddy and it was a great experience.¬†We loved it, and being in a BCS bowl (this year) makes it that much greater,‚ÄĚ Litz said enthusiastically.
‚ÄúThis here in downtown Fort Lauderdale, the Downtown Countdown, is perfect for the family.¬†We‚Äôre having a blast!¬†I think Fort Lauderdale and the Orange Bowl do such a nice job, and we‚Äôre really excited to be a part of it.‚ÄĚ
Students and other NIU fans were spotted inside many establishments during the New Year‚Äôs Eve event.
Matise and his friends have followed NIU since graduation and travel to one big game every year.¬†They visited the Alumni Association function before coming to downtown Fort Lauderdale for the official Downtown Countdown.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs great for NIU,‚ÄĚ Matise said.
Matt Ouano, a 2000 graduate, drove 16 hours from Ashburn, Va., with his family. As a student, he endured the Huskies‚Äô 23-game losing streak and appreciates how the program has been built for success. ‚ÄúWe‚Äôve been huge backers of NIU since I graduated, and to see them come this far. Of course, we‚Äôre going to support them,‚ÄĚ Ouano said.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs a great experience.¬†It‚Äôs New Year‚Äôs Eve, and we‚Äôre getting a big bowl game atmosphere,‚ÄĚ he added.¬†‚ÄúWe‚Äôre seeing a lot of fellow Northern Illinois fans down here as well, coming together.¬†It‚Äôs always fun when you can celebrate a big event in a larger atmosphere with a ‚Äėlarger family.‚Äô ‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúThis was a dream come true.¬†I never thought that this would happen, going to a bowl as big as this one,‚ÄĚ said Boris Gorokhovsky, who earned his bachelor‚Äôs degree in 1994 and master‚Äôs in 1996.¬†‚ÄúI watched the Humanitarian bowl on TV and watched some of the others, but this one was so big we decided it was worth coming to the game to watch it live.‚ÄĚ
Gorokhovsky is part of a large group that includes his wife and three children plus about 20 Sigma Nu fraternity brothers.
‚ÄúI‚Äôm really enjoying the atmosphere,‚ÄĚ Gorokhovsky said of the Fort Lauderdale countdown, noting a strong NIU presence everywhere he‚Äôs been. ‚ÄúI‚Äôve run into so many Northern people and everyone has been like, ‚ÄėHey, go Huskies‚Äô up and down from Hollywood all the way down to Miami.¬†It‚Äôs just been amazing.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúPeople are getting pride in the school, and it‚Äôs just great to see it,‚ÄĚ Ouano said.
‚ÄúMiami has done a great job with Northern‚Äôs participation in the Orange Bowl, and everything they‚Äôve offered to the alumni and fans has been terrific,‚ÄĚ Litz added proudly. ‚ÄúBut whether it‚Äôs Mobile or Miami, as long as Northern‚Äôs in a bowl game, we‚Äôll be there.¬†It‚Äôs awesome.‚ÄĚ