That’s how Midland’s Patricia Duffy described her experience at the new College Football Hall of Fame and Chick-fil-A Fan Experience in Atlanta.
Duffy wrote an essay to win the chance to be one of the very first people to see the inside of the attraction that does not open to the public until Aug. 23.
“If you like college football at all then this is the place you have to come see,” Duffy said. “There is so much to do.”
You might even feel like spending the night. That’s what she got to do Wednesday.
People from around the country submitted 250-word essays about why they love college football to get the chance to camp overnight inside the HOF. From the entries, 100 winners from across the country were selected. Each winner got to bring another person with them. Duffy chose her father.
Duffy, 18, graduated last spring from Shaw High School in Columbus. There, she was yearbook editor and a competitive cheerleader. She was on the road Thursday to the University of Georgia, where she will be a freshman.
In her essay, Duffy wrote about going to her first college football game at age 11. It was Arkansas playing at LSU, a game won by Arkansas 50-48. She called the game a nail biter, and when the game ended, she knew she was hooked.
She told the judges about how throughout the next year, she watched game replays on ESPN, researched Southeastern Conference teams and those from other high-profile conferences, as well as keeping up with the latest news.
She said that the next football season she was glued to her seat in front of the television whenever a game was on. She said she still does that now as her love for college football has only grown.
“When I hear the words college football, my heart starts racing,” she wrote.
She is planning to study sports journalism.
“I can’t wait to spend Saturdays on the sidelines reporting for Fox Sports, ESPN or the SEC Network,” Duffy said. “I’ll be doing what I love while watching the sport I love. What could be better?”
She said Thursday reporter Erin Andrews was someone after whom to model a career.
Besides getting to tour the HOF, she will get free food during the year from Chick-fil-A and received tickets to the football game between Ole Miss and Boise State at the Georgia Dome on Aug. 28.
The participants stayed Wednesday in tents that were pitched on an indoor 45-yard football field on which visitors will be able to kick field goals, throw passes and practice other football skills.
The essay winners got to check out everything in the building. They also watched the movie “Rudy” and had a dance.
“It was a blast,” Duffy said.
She was at the facility from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.
The HOF features historic college football artifacts. There also are games and interactive attractions. “It is state-of-the-art, very high-tech,” Duffy said.
One of the things she liked most was the interactive ESPN College GameDay Desk. Fans are able to virtually join ESPN analysts Chris Fowler and Desmond Howard at the College GameDay desk.
“It is like being part of the show,” she said.
If taking the place of Lee Corso is not your thing, then how about experiencing what it’s like to go through the Dog Walk or Tiger Walk? Or run on the field like a player?
The Coca-Cola Fans Game Day Gallery includes various exhibits dedicated to tailgating, from the games years ago through today, as well as interactive displays that showcase mascots, bands and cheerleaders.
Visitors can do their rendition of their team’s fight song in a karaoke challenge and get their face digitally painted. They also can see the evolution of uniforms.
The wall of helmets features the helmets of 768 different college football teams.
Duffy said each fan’s registration card allows them to see all the information about their team past and present.
History of the project
The National Football Foundation decided five years to move the HOF from South Bend, Ind., to Atlanta. The new building is 94,256 square feet and is located on 250 Marietta Street N.W., which is adjacent to the World Congress Center and Centennial Olympic Park.
It will be open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas. On Sunday-Friday it will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.. On Saturday, it will be open 9 a.m.-6 p.m. The admission price ranges from $16.99 to $19.99.
For more information, call 404-880-4800.