GatorWalk: A Championship Experience A PRESENTATION BY DEVIN MILLER

Welcome

The University of Florida can be a very daunting place to newcomers, whether that be incoming freshman, transfer students, or even graduate students. With over 52,000 students and a vast campus, this school might be overwhelming and it can be difficult to find a place to start. Thankfully for fans of any sports, the University of Florida boasts some of the finest athletic venues and arguably the strongest athletic program in the nation. Florida Gator sporting events have the uncanny ability to build school spirit and unify Gators of any age and background. I would encourage any newcomer to check out our state-of-the-art facilities and enjoy a championship experience watching the Florida Gators.

Ben Hill Griffin Stadium

Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, better known as "The Swamp," is the home of three-time National Champion Gator Football team. This is considered one of the most the treasured grounds of college football in the entire country. The stadium holds over 92,000 fans, making it one of the largest and loudest stadiums in North America. On game days, you can expect to encounter a sea of blue and orange-clad Gator fans rooting on their Gators. The energy and passion inside the stadium after a Florida touchdown is unmatched by any other experience on campus, and compels fans to make their return to Ben Hill Griffin stadium year after year, even after graduating. Often, you can see complete strangers hugging and high-fiving each other after a big play, unified only by their love for the Gators. Attending a Gator football game in The Swamp is a sure-fire way to ignite one's school spirit and even make a few friends in the bleachers.

Alfred A. McKethan Stadium

Alfred A. McKethan Stadium, or simply "The Mac", has been the home of Florida Gator Baseball since 1988. Whether you are a fan of baseball or not, any fan can enjoy a Friday night showdown under the lights or a lazy Sunday afternoon at the ballpark. The Mac comfortably holds 5,500 fans and offers a game day experience that is unmatched in the realm of college baseball. The Florida Gators always produce a quality product on the field, as they are in competition for a national championship every single year. The Gators have reached the College World Series five out of the last nine years, a record that no other collegiate program can rival. McKethan Stadium offers activities for fans of any age, and you will be sure to see fans ranging from small children to students to seniors. Baseball games offer a much more relaxed environment for Gators to hang out and spend quality time with each for nine innings, and many life-long friendships have been forged through Gator Baseball. I would strongly encourage newcomers to catch a game at the Mac.

Stephen C. O'Connell Center

The Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center is one of the hottest attractions that the University of Florida has to offer. Dubbed the "O'Dome", this multipurpose arena has been an integral part of the Florida athletic program since 1980, but underwent a $65M upgrade and renovation that was completed in 2016. The stadium has since-been reopened and has been critically-acclaimed as one of the finest arenas in all of college sports. The O'Dome is home to the two-time National Champion Men's Basketball team, the four-time National Champion Gymnastics team, and the five-time National Champion swimming and diving team, as well as the Women's Basketball team and the Volleyball Team. It is safe to say that the O'Dome is a home of excellence, and fans can expect to see an outstanding performance any time they enter this arena, regardless of the sport being played. This gem of stadium erupts with energy and passion when the Gators play, and students congregate by the thousands to cheer with each other in the student section, nicknamed the Rowdy Reptiles. The Rowdy Reptiles is the 2016 Naismith Student Section of the Year, meaning that our students are the loudest, most passionate fans in the nation. Come out to a basketball game and join the Rowdies and you will have an experience like none other.

Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium

Photo by Tim Casey, University of Florida Athletic Assocaiotn

Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium is the beloved home to the 2014 and 2015 National Champion Gator Softball team and offers an intimate, exciting experience for any softball fan. This park holds just 1,200 spectators, which means that fans will not be crowded and are guaranteed to have an excellent seat that is close in proximity to the field. In addition to the general admission section in the bleachers of the stadiums, students have been known to bring a lawn chair or enjoy a picnic in the shaded area on the grassy hill beyond the outfield. Students consistently flock to the Seashole to enjoy one of college softball's premier teams play. Although night games are a rarity, many fans enjoy watching afternoon games under the sun, and even stay for a double-header if there are two games in one day. Seashole Stadium also hosts many softball tournaments that attract fans of many different teams. Whether you're looking to enjoy a shaded picnic beyond the outfield or cheer in the bleachers, there is a spot for everyone at this fine stadium and is an oft-overlooked attraction at the University of Florida that I would encourage anyone to check out.

In Summation

Whether you are an avid sports fan or not, the University of Florida offers some of the premier athletic venues in the nation and consistently fields championship-caliber teams. The combination of these two things means that a day at the ballpark will be a blast for any student. Florida Gator athletics are the foundation of the Gator Nation, and they forge bonds between all students through the school spirit and camaraderie that are found at various sporting events. For any newcomer to this great university, I implore you to take advantage of these great venues and you will surely maximize your experience as a Gator.

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