The fate of Baby Trier

Susanna Trier will come into this world sometime next month, or at least that’s what the doctors tell us. Her name is the product of her mother, Leslie Trier’s lineage.

“Leslie’s aunt is Susan and her great grandmother was Anna,”  Dan Trier tells me. “It makes a good Southern double name.”

Dan met Leslie a decade ago. They were both searching for the score of the 2002 Clemson-Georgia football game, although the news was only good to one of them. Leslie Trier is a Bulldog. Dan Trier is a Tiger.

It’s hard for divided houses to survive in the South, and I’m not talking about Catholics marrying Protestants — that wouldn’t be too big of a deal at all. But thanks to civility and two TVs, Dan can watch his Tigers while Leslie watches her Bulldogs. They’ve even been known to side together on many Saturdays in the fall.

Last year, Dan and Leslie got to meet Uga, the actual Georgia bulldog mascot. The encounter may have shown up on their Christmas card. Two years ago, Leslie, Dan and I got to sit in a sky box at Clemson Memorial Stadium, and we were all wearing orange.

Yes, their divided house is a healthy one. It’s so healthy that the couple decided to place the fate of their daughter’s fandom on the outcome of Saturday’s Clemson-Georgia game. May the best team win (for the record, Clemson won).

On Saturday, Leslie wore a shirt that read “Future Bulldog Fan” with an arrow pointing toward her stomach. Earlier this summer, she talked with Georgia Head Coach Mark Richt and essentially told him that his team had to win for her baby’s sake. This was serious.

And it should be, even in an age when more and more parents are leaving big decisions for their children’s lives up to their children. This must be one of the reasons why more and more 20-somethings are unchurched. And it could also play a factor into why soccer is becoming more popular in the U.S.

I didn’t choose to be a Christian; at least, not at first. Even though my family life was a dumpster fire in my formidable years, my mom/dad/stepdad/grandparents/aunt and uncles/neighbors tended to make sure I was in church on Sunday mornings, and I’m glad they did. They also made sure I was Shane Matthews, not Charlie Ward, for Halloween and that my first college football game was in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Florida Field.

Twenty years later, I’m still a Gator. I didn’t choose them — they chose me.

The same forces were in effect four years ago when I met Dan Trier and David Bennett. Minutes earlier, the Athens Banner-Herald had offered me a job I knew I would take, and I walked into Flanagan’s Pub to celebrate. We were the only three patrons in the bar, and after taking down a Reverse Irish Car Bomb they began to spread their Clemson gospel.

Four years later, I’ve been to five Clemson games and hope to go to many more. And Saturday night, I yelled the Clemson cheers and celebrated fate’s right hand with Dan and David. I didn’t choose them — they chose me.

In 12 years, when Susanna Trier is old enough to read this, she’ll know why her first stuffed animal was an orange tiger with cocaine eyes and recognize “Tiger Rag” as the song her dad sang to her as a lullaby. And she’ll turn out fine.

When you think about it, Clemson and Georgia are really the same. They both offer beautiful campuses, beautiful people, special traditions and Southern hospitality. They both have to go back 30-plus years to the last time they won a national championship. And, despite this fact, they both take their football very seriously.

The Triers know this all too well, and so will their daughter.