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Oxford prepares for ESPN Game Day

PHOTO SUBMITTED / The Valentine family (from left) Trent and Eleanor Hartzog; Dennis, Amy and Patrick Valentine and Jessica Brister find their happiness in the Grove.

PHOTO SUBMITTED / The Valentine family (from left) Trent and Eleanor Hartzog; Dennis, Amy and Patrick Valentine and Jessica Brister find their happiness in the Grove.

Come Wednesday afternoon during football season, Amy Valentine said she begins to get that itch. Every Saturday Amy, her husband Dennis and their children can be seen in the Grove and in the stands of each game.

“If we’re alive, and there is a game we’ll be there,” said Valentine.

Amy and Dennis call their family the five degrees because they, her two daughter and her son all received degrees from Ole Miss. It’s in their blood.

“We’ve had our season tickets for umpteen years. I can’t even remember how long,” said Amy. “They are really good tickets. The only thing our children really fight about is who’s going to get the tickets in the will. Other people have hunting camps or condominiums in Florida. We bought a condominium, and we go to Oxford even when the rebels aren’t playing sometime.”

The Valentines are geared up for this Saturday’s game against Alabama. It’s a huge game for the Rebel nation. So big that ESPN’s College Game Day will be airing live from the Grove in the heart of the campus.

“There is an air in the grove. There is a light in the grove. There is an aura to the place,” said Valentine. “I wish all Mississippians could experience it, just for a moment. Forget that it’s Rebledom, and forget that it’s Ole Miss, and just experience it. Just find that in the center of the world.”

Ole Miss is very personal for the Valentines. It is a huge part of their lives. It is their home away from home and in any conversation with them about their alma mater, their deep-rooted love for the Rebels is undeniable.

“I never hear the fight song and don’t just get a little rush,” said Valentine. “My daughter, and I always go line up to watch the band march off because there is nothing like the pride of the south. It’s my home away from home. If I had millions of dollars, I’d love to give it all to Ole Miss.”

Football is not the only reason they love the place. They attend every sporting event they can. Yes, sports are a big deal, but they love the spirit of the university, the family and camaraderie of alumni and students and the sense of belonging everyone feels who has stepped foot on the beautiful sacred ground of the University of Mississippi.

“All those buildings, it’s like they speak to you,” said Valentine. “There are just so many memories there.”

The Valentines felt it was important to expose their children to their home away from home at an early age. Dennis took his oldest daughter to her first game at the age of six. They never forced their children to attend the school but wanted them to understand how influential their experiences were in their own lives and wanted to acclimate them to the rebel community. Their family blood is true red and blue.

“Frank Everett had it right: ‘One never graduates from Ole Miss,'” said Valentine.

Dennis Valentine, like all true Rebels, said he knows that even though the Rebels are ranked eleventh, they will win Saturday’s game the No. 3 Alabama.

“There is no doubt in my mind,” said Dennis. “Ole Miss is going to win. I firmly believe that.”

Today the family will be on the road, and tomorrow they will be turned out for what should be an exciting game that could place the Rebels in the top of the polls.