*The Texans invited fans to submit their best Texans stories for a chance to be featured on the team's 2011 season tickets in the "Your Story, Your Glory" contest. *
Selected to be on the ticket for the Week 17 Fan Appreciation Day presented by FOX Sports Houston game against the Tennessee Titans was Nick Vollert from the Woodlands, Texas. This is his story.
"Back in 1979, my mother actually went into labor with me during a Houston football game. I actually came home from the hospital with a 'Luv Ya Blue' onesie on, so it goes really back to the beginning for me. Growing up, I loved watching football. My parents said I wouldn't even sit in front of a cartoon for three minutes, but I would sit with my granddad and watch an entire football game. They never understood it, but I was just mesmerized by it.
"As soon as the Texans were awarded to Houston, I was one of the first ones to buy tickets, and I've had 'em since day one. It was always something really special that me and my dad shared, going to the games up until a couple years ago when he passed away. To this day, I still have six seats. I love to bring family and friends with me, co-workers. We always get there early every week, tailgate, set up, grill, throw the football, the whole nine yards. We do it all. It's an entire Sunday. It literally is. From morning to evening, that's what I allocate my Sundays for during football season is the Texans – start to finish.
"I actually put together a list every Saturday night before Sunday morning that's taped to my front door, of everything we need to bring with us for gameday so we don't forget anything. We usually pack up the cars and head out around 7:30 or 8 in the morning, try to get to the stadium as soon as we can. We set up shop with our all tents and have some friends that bring a grill, one of the giant ones you actually have to back up on a trailer, and we're cooking breakfast and lunch for people. We go all day long. Throughout the entire day, we're out there tailgating, eating, drinking, having a great time, throwing the football around, doing the tailgate toss with the bean bags. We pack up and go in and obviously watch the game, and as soon as it's over, we're back out. We're the ones they're telling to get out of the parking lot at 7 o'clock at night, because we're there all day.
"I think what's unique about watching a game here overall is the passion that the fans have for the team. I don't know of any other city that can say that they've sold out every single football game for their first 10 years of existence other than the Texans. I know we've been voted the best tailgating city in the NFL I believe a couple of times now, and a lot of other cities don't have that. I've been to other teams' games with friends, and it's more of a corporate atmosphere. You don't have the wild and crazy. There's people out there at Reliant Stadium that set up DJ booths. It's just at a whole 'nother level, and people don't understand it 'til they actually see it.
"I like to get pumped up for the games. When they do the introductions and they introduce the players and they're playing the background music, that usually gets me really pumped up, but the biggest thing is obviously when we score a touchdown. My sister actually nicknamed it 'King Kong'; I do this thing where I literally beat my chest as hard as I can and yell at the top of my lungs. I've been told that it's very frightening-looking to other people, but that's what I'm known for. Everybody in my section looks for it when we score. It hurts afterwards, but I don't worry about it at the time, because we're winning, usually. But you feel it the next day.
"Being a true Texans fan, to me, means that you're always supporting your team. When you're watching your team and they're losing and they're not doing well and you're taking a beating from everybody getting phone calls, text messages, your co-workers are ragging on you, and you say, 'You know what, we're not doing that good right now, but when we come back and make the playoffs and we get to the Super Bowl, I'm going to say I was there through the bad years,' I think that makes a true fan. Not walking away. Don't stop showing up to the games just because they're losing. Be there through the good times and the bad. It's like a marriage to your football team. That's what being a true fan is.
"I'm the homefield advantage for the Houston Texans because I'm there for every game, I'm loud, I'm enthusiastic, and I know they can hear me from my section, and I know that makes a difference. Whether it's causing a false start penalty for the other offense or just cheering on our team, I know that those 70,000 screaming fans like myself, I make a difference.
"Having a chance to be on a ticket, it's literally a dream come true for me. I know some people might find that corny, but I'm never going to be a professional football player, so this is the closest I'm ever going to get to it and it's something that only a handful of people can say actually happened, that they were able to be printed on a Houston Texans football ticket, to be on a ticket for the team that they love.
"The Texans are my favorite NFL team because this is my home. I grew up in Houston. I'll never live anywhere else. This is Houston's team and it's my team, simple as that. The greatest dream I have for them, obviously, would be to win the first Super Bowl for this city. We've had NFL franchises now for a total of right at 50 years and we've never even been to a Super Bowl. To be able to say that you were able to watch your team win a Super Bowl, and I'd love to be able to say I did it with all my family and friends there to watch, that's a moment that I'm going to truly cherish because that's something I've waited on my whole life. I want to see them win a Super Bowl, and I want to be there to see it happen."