As Tropical Storm Erika dissipated on Saturday, Hurricane fans were out in full force at CanesFest, the annual fan event the UM football team hosts prior to each season.
The potential for a move indoors to the university’s Herbert Wellness Center because of the threat of rain proved all for naught as the mostly cloudy sky held up and the event remained on Greentree Practice Fields.
Fans lined up halfway around the Schwartz Athletic Center to enter, had an opportunity to interact with players and coaches and got posters autographed by their favorite Canes.
Sebastian the Ibis, the cheerleaders and the Sunsations were roaming around leading chants and taking pictures. Kids were entertained with tackling dummies and various other games at stations promoting UM’s other athletic teams.
“We may not have as large an alumni base as other [Division I] schools, but we’re a family here, and we’re the most dedicated and passionate fans,” said Shane Robinson, sporting his ‘Miami-Cane County’ T-shirt. “I feel like I’m a part of it. It’s a family.”
Robinson, who grew up going to games at the Orange Bowl and has kept ticket stubs from home games since the days of the historic 58-game home winning streak from 1985-94, was one of the more vocal fans in expressing his support to the players as he went down the line for autographs.
Those in attendance rushed to get in line where fan favorites like sophomore quarterback Brad Kaaya and seniors Raphael Kirby and Tracy Howard were, but one player that hasn’t contributed significantly in three years also received plenty of support.
That would be fifth-year senior receiver Rashawn Scott, who after breaking out as a sophomore with more than 500 receiving yards in 2012 has had shoulder injuries and suspensions put a prolonged hiatus to his production.
“They’re just telling me that they really need me, giving me support,” Scott said. “They want the best. Even though they get mad when something goes wrong, they want what we want, and I like that.”
Scott appears to be in the right frame of mind and health to make the most of his last shot before moving on, working mostly with the first team throughout fall camp.
He told one fan: “I owe y’all one year.”
“It’s just because I’ve done a lot of stuff, and they’ve been behind me since I got here,” Scott said. “I see them every year and then something always happens, so I just feel like I owe them a year.”
Scott said one fan joked he didn’t want to shake his hand because he might break his finger.
Saturday marked the second consecutive year that CanesFest was hosted on Greentree Practice Fields. The annual event used to be held at the BankUnited Center. Autograph lines were split among various player groups, and some fans didn’t get all the autographs they were looking for. In the past, there was one continuous line through the BankUnited Center floor.
“It’s more area, but as far as the autographs go, it used to be so much better at the BankUnited because you went right around, you started at the beginning and got everybody,” said Mark Dusek, who has been a season-ticket holder for 37 years and first attended football games as a student in 1976.
UM kicks off its season next Saturday at 6 p.m. against Bethune-Cookman.