UCF alumni chapters to hold opening game watch parties
While it certainly might be easier for local Knights to gather on campus or in the greater Orlando area, that doesn't mean Knights of old across the nation aren't coming together Saturday morning to send some black-and-gold love over to the Emerald Isle.
Alhough not very far from Orlando and UCF, the Space Coast UCF Alumni Chapter is sticking close to home to root on the Knights across the pond. With not one, but two watch parties, the chapter will be sending its support to Ireland.
At Coasters Pub in Melbourne, the Space Coast chapter will chow down on an Irish breakfast bright and early at 8 a.m. the day of the game.
Over in Cocoa, at the same time at Beef O Brady's, loyal Knights will be biting down on burgers for breakfast during the game.
But with UCF just within an hour away, why not come to campus to celebrate?
Safety and convenience, said Eric Braga, chair of the chapter, play a big part.
"If you can go to a watch party that's 10 minutes from your house, that's much safer and you can enjoy it with your local friends," Braga said, noting that for the past decade, the chapter has consistently thrown watch parties and this season will be no different.
Outside of the Sunshine State, Knight pride still shines strong, and in Austin, Texas — which boasts an alumni population of nearly 500, according to alumni club executives — watch parties are a regular tradition, as well.
They say everything is bigger in Texas, and the watch parties are no different.
Ever since the Austin UCF Alumni Club formed roughly three years ago, watch parties have consistently been popular, drawing nearly 100 people at their busiest.
Brian Hanke, past club president, said that these watch parties have a great importance to the alumni community, especially when people are moving to an unfamiliar area.
"Especially when another alum moves to a new city, if they don't have any family in the city, they'll turn to their alumni association to find connections," Hanke said.
The Austin club's watch party will take place at Fado Irish Pub and Restaurant at 7:30 a.m. CST.
But for Knights on the other side of the nation, waking up might be a bigger challenge, as the game starts at 5:30 a.m. Pacific Standard Time.
Some alumni, such as those of the San Diego and Las Vegas UCF Alumni clubs, aren't letting an early game time get the best of them, though it does present a challenge.
"The only problem is that the earliest [places] open is 6 a.m.," said Ryan Simpkins, chair of the San Diego UCF Alumni Club, of the group's plan to watch the game at The Waterfront in Little Italy. "I'm going to be out there at the start of the game with my iPad until they open up."
And over in Sin City on the Las Vegas strip, the Bellagio might be sporting some black and gold, as members of the Las Vegas UCF Alumni Club — a newer club with only a Fiesta Bowl watch party under its belt — get together at 5:30 a.m. in a sports book room to support the team while snacking on food from the hotel's 24-hour café.
"It's important for people to have an opportunity to network and have a home away from home," said Robin Vircsik, the event coordinator and organizer for the Las Vegas UCF Alumni Club, regarding why the club still chooses to get together despite the early hours of the game.
From California to Florida, from New York to Georgia, the various watch parties across the nation prove that even after graduation, UCF Knights continue to bleed black and gold.
OTHER WATCH PARTIES AROUND THE NATION
Mutts Canine Cantina
Kinsale Irish Pub & Restaurant
Blue 42 Sports Grill
Tir Na Nog
Temple Bar Sports Grill
Lee Roy Selmon's