Dispatches from Orlando

Robby Chiste, a senior accounting major, files "dispatches" from the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando.

ORLANDO, Fla. (December 29, 2013) — Robby Chiste, a senior accounting major at the University of Miami, is heading to the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando the morning of December 28, from his home in West Palm Beach. He’ll be there reporting on the sights and sounds, before, during, and after the Hurricane’s first bowl appearance in three years, and will be filing his “dispatches” throughout the day to UM News.

But, before the game, Chiste - the current treasurer for Undergraduate Student Government - is starting with a few posts reflecting on his time at UM. So check back early and often to read what he has to say about then, and now.

Posted at 6:14 p.m. Saturday, December 28, 2013:
Closing in on the final hours before kickoff, and the tailgate parties are out in full force. As expected, Miami is dominating the tailgate scene by a wide margin. The aroma of burgers, hot dogs, wings, and ribs are filling the air. Mostly cloudy skies and the mid- to low-70s temperature are keeping the area very comfortable for the fans to enjoy the late afternoon as we approach the 5:36 sunset and 6:45 kickoff. The parking lots are packed to the brim and those without a parking pass are facing some tricky park and ride situations and extra long walks to the Citrus Bowl. Fans of both teams are preparing to enter the stadium and are pumped to see the final game of the football season under the lights of downtown Orlando.

The Hurricanes arrived on the bus at approximately 4:25, and as always before a big game, they were rocking the bus back and fourth and getting pumped for game time. It's the 'Canes and the ACC bound Cards taking over O-Town tonight, be sure to catch what is sure to be an exciting matchup at 6:45 on ESPN!

From Orlando to the rest of Hurricane Nation, enjoy the game and LET'S GO 'CANES!!!

Russell Athletic Bowl: Robert Chiste Coverage - Images by University of Miami University Communications

Posted at 1:33 p.m. Saturday, December 28:
For all of us ‘Canes fans today, thoughts and anticipation towards our football program and its future are certainly at a season high. For those that have dedicated countless hours towards serving others at the University of Miami, today is particularly special.

“My favorite memory is definitely the UF game,” Bhumi Patel, president of undergraduate student government, told me. “I loved the white out and the insane spirit and of course beating the Gators!”

Bhumi, a senior majoring in exercise physiology from Englewood, Florida, has served on Student Government’s executive board for two years and before that served on the dining services advisory board. One of her favorite projects from this semester was working as a team to bring two-time super bowl champion and former Miami Hurricane Ray Lewis to campus to speak to the student body at the brand new Student Activities Center. “I’m so excited to see us return to a bowl game. The team has improved so much in the past four years and I can’t wait to see how they perform in this environment.”

Category 5, the official spirit programming board of the University of Miami, is responsible for instilling spirit and the deep sense of pride that comes with being part of the Miami Hurricane family. Few others can attest to the hard work that this entails than Andrew Wyatt, chair of Category 5 and a senior majoring in Sports Administration.

“This year as the clock expired at my last home game as an undergraduate, I huddled in the arms of my close friends with a tear running down my cheek singing the Alma Mater - and we were bowl bound!” said Wyatt. His leadership through Category 5 has brought many new traditions to our football program and the University of Miami campus directly this semester alone. Category 5 and Student Affairs worked together and, “made grand gestures of placing giant signs of support for the football team over the newly built Student Activities Center for all to see that this University stands together as one, regardless of your niche on this campus.”

In a year where the student body broke the overall season student attendance record for football, much credit must be given to new traditions that were instilled by Category 5, including covering the entire student section with the famous smoke at the end of the first quarter, and creating a parody music video, ‘What does the Ibis Say?’ that has received over 100,000 views on YouTube.

“In four short years," Wyatt said, "our students, our spirit, and our school has grown beyond imaginable lengths. ‘Full Speed Ahead’ as we move into the next four years and beyond. GO ‘CANES!”

Posted at 11:50 a.m. Saturday, December 28, 2013:
As we roll to within seven hours until kickoff, ‘Canes fans from around the country continue to file into the parking lots and begin setting up their tailgates. Orange and green footballs are becoming a more common sight to see whistling through the refreshingly warm mid to high 70s air. For most ‘Canes fans, arriving in Orlando today required a respectable amount of travel time. For one family, however, the luck of the draw played well into their favor.

For the George family, today’s drive featured a nice and easy 15-minute commute from their home in nearby Oviedo, Florida. On most home Hurricane game days, however, this ‘Cane-crazy season ticket-holding family begin their mornings in the heart of the state and make their three-hour trek down Florida’s Turnpike to arrive at the family section of Sun Life Stadium. Following a game, win or lose, the family car is loaded up once again and the trip back to Oviedo is made. “It takes a lot of effort to get down to Miami to be there to support our ‘Canes,” says Aleshia George, “But it’s what bleeding orange and green is all about.”

When it comes to favorite foods on game day, “There’s nothing better than my wife’s (Aleshia’s) chocolate chip cookies, I can’t imagine a Hurricanes game without them,” says Duane George. Today I personally had the privilege to enjoy them, and I can tell you first hand, they are absolutely unbelievably amazing to say the least.

Spencer George, currently a junior at UM majoring in economics, holds high aspirations for today and the near future for the ‘Canes, “Hopefully winning today can help us make substantial noise around college football and springboard us towards competing for a national championship next year. Today especially, it’s great to be a Miami Hurricane!”

Posted at 11:25 a.m. Saturday, December 28. 2013:
It's 9:00 a.m., and the Miami Hurricanes are already becoming well acquainted with the Louisville Cardinals.

This morning, however, it carries a much different meaning than what will be experienced on the football field less than ten hours from now. The University of Miami and the University of Louisville have teamed up with the non-profit organization Clean the World in order to make an impact that stretches far across the globe.

Super Typhoon Haiyan, which struck the Philippines in early November killing over 6,000 people, left a massive trail of devastation and caused over $1.5 billion in damages over its week-long lifespan. So many conveniences that we take for granted here in the United States are in extremely high demand in this suffering area as we speak. Fortunately, approximately 50 volunteers from the two competing institutions today have joined forces to make a difference in the Philippines by recycling soap and other bottled hygienic amenities unused by the local Orlando hotel industry and sending them over to the disaster zone.

Javier Hernandez, a senior finance major, took part in this opportunity to serve others this morning and found it an excellent way to begin game day.

“During the bowl season, teams are visiting a lot of different cities that they are not typically accustomed to; it’s a great feeling to work with local non-profits in this area and in this case support the Philippines directly,” he told me.

Hernandez, a dynamic ‘Canes fan, can often be spotted by his signature UM flavored business casual attire. Today is a bittersweet moment for him as it marks the end of attending UM football games as an undergraduate. “I remember going to the Orange Bowl when I was young to see the games. I would always see the student section being the loudest fans in the stadium. They would link arms during kickoff, do the imperial march on defense, and put the fours up. I can always come back to a football game…but I can never be a part of that again.”

Posted at 9:00 a.m. Saturday, December 28, 2013:
As we prepare for game day, I think back to a few short months ago in August 2013 when we were greeted by the brand new, state of the art Student Activities Center on our Coral Gables campus. The new Rathskeller, Starbucks, M2O, 24-hour study lounge, student organization suite, and abundance of meeting rooms, ballrooms, and lounge areas were exciting additions to a campus that took on a very fresh new feel with the unveiling of the SAC. Not to mention, we were once again able to walk along “the other side” of Lake Osceola – it felt like we had half of our campus back after over two years of construction.

Similarly, on the football field, we surely had a new look. We forced a No. 12 ranked Florida Gators team into 5 turnovers and celebrated the most exciting victory we had experienced during our undergraduate careers. We pierced the top 25 for the first time since early in our freshman year. We fired off 21 consecutive points against Georgia Tech in just over 9 minutes in the 4th quarter to seal the deal. We rallied back in the 4th quarter at the University of North Carolina and batted down UNC’s final end zone bound pass of the game. My friends and I had made the road trip up to this game for fall break and ESPN caught all of us on camera as we prepared to hold our breaths for the final play of the game.

We were holding our breaths again the next week as the NCAA prepared to make its announcement on the violations investigation. What a feeling of relief it was when we all learned that the cloud that had hung over us for years had finally cleared away. Our team, and our school, had certainly learned a great deal.

After a great start on the field, we had an unfortunate losing streak in early November. We sadly lost Duke Johnson when his ankle fractured during the hard fought battle against FSU. We were literally washed out during the Virginia Tech homecoming game. A surging Duke Blue Devils team took it to us at Wallace Wade Stadium in the 4th quarter and stole our hopes of securing our first trip to the ACC Championship.

Two solid wins to close out this regular season, however, have put us in position to play in our first bowl game since freshman year (2010) and also gives us the opportunity to accomplish something which has eluded us since 2006 – winning a bowl game! Louisville (11-1), ranked No. 18, is a worthy opponent whose only loss this season was in a very close 38-35 contest against No. 15 UCF (who will play No. 6 Baylor in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl).

A victory on Saturday puts our Miami Hurricanes in prime position for an exciting future, both on the football field and throughout our campus. Al Golden’s leadership and brand that demands the best out of the nation’s best players greatly parallels the brand that currently exists on the University of Miami campus – demanding the best out of the nation’s best students. It’s All About the U through its academics, its quality of life, and of course, its athletics. You cannot find the mixture that we possess anywhere else in the world and our constant demand for excellence and commitment to resilience will continue to propel us forward as an institution, as a community, and as a family for years to come. Let’s bring the big ‘W’ home to Miami and end 2013 on the best note we can!


Posted at 6:00 p.m. Friday, December 27, 2013:
My sophomore year, 2011, saw the beginning of the “Golden Era” and every hurricane fan was greatly anticipating this season, including myself. I was getting settled in my new dorm room in Mahoney and had just set up my TV with my parents when I flipped on ESPN and saw the breaking news about the pending investigation regarding possible NCAA violations.

The grassroots of our team’s resiliency was surely planted in this season, and although we could have taken the low road and succumbed to the negativity that was brewing in the media and around the program, our guys managed to keep their cool and put together a .500 season. Thanks to my involvement on the field before each tunnel and smoke run-out, I could see in the eyes of the players that they were going to give each opponent their absolute best. And they did.

The 2012 season featured a few key matchups and the breakout season for then-freshman running back, Duke Johnson. Who could forget the Georgia Tech game?! The world discovered what Al Golden was all about when he clutched a severely injured Malcolm Lewis tightly in his arms just like a father would care for his own son following his very critical pass reception from Stephen Morris. The ‘Canes rallied from a 36-22 deficit halfway through the 3rd quarter to tie the game at 36 with only 27 seconds remaining in the game. We stopped GT on a 4th and inches play on the goal line on their first overtime possession and followed that up on our very next play by sending Mike James into the end zone on an untouched 25-yard carry for the win. That was pure heart, and our ‘Canes were beginning to build a collective confidence. Remember that next game, when Stephen Morris threw a bullet 62-yard pass to Phillip Dorsett to defeat NC State with 19 seconds left? Certainly these were some of the moments that began to form the heart and soul of our team and helped prepare us for the future.

Posted at 2:00 p.m. Friday, December 27, 2013:
While we as a Hurricane community prepare for Saturday and what should be a very exciting battle against the No. 18 Louisville Cardinals, I think it’s appropriate to take a step back and reflect on what it took for us to get to this crucial point for both our football program and our university. As a member of our senior class, there is simply so much that we have seen, felt, and experienced throughout the past four years.

As we all know, our beloved University of Miami is constantly on the move and continually strives for excellence each and every day – in the classroom, throughout the campus, and out on the playing field. Excellence, of course, does not develop overnight. It is not handed to you. It requires passion, dedication, teamwork, determination, confidence, and perhaps most importantly, resilience.

Rewind all the way back to the fall of 2010 and our opening home game against FAMU. I’ll never forget the feeling of being in the front row of a jam-packed student section as a freshman and watching my new school and home run the table and cruise to a 45-0 victory over the Rattlers. For all of us that know this feeling of pride, regardless of what the scoreboard says, it is truly great to be a Miami Hurricane. As freshman, we felt pretty invincible at this point. Sure, we were ranked No. 12 and would be heading up to “The Horseshoe” at Ohio Stadium to play a No. 2 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes squad that we had not faced since – yeah, that one. But with a couple of losses at the end of the season, we knew we were in a rebuilding mode.

Off the field and on the Coral Gables campus, we were also entering a rebuilding period as well. The University was now ranked as a top 50 academic institution for the first time and claimed the crown as Florida’s top-ranked University by U.S. News & World Report. We began to lay the foundation to further accelerate us to the next level. We received an amazingly generous gift of $20 million from the Fairholme Foundation to begin the groundbreaking of the new Student Activities Center. Of course, this came at the expense of tearing down the old Rathskeller building – our beloved student-run restaurant that simply made us all feel at home since its inception in 1973. For me personally, if I was not in class or at one of our sporting events, you would probably find me hanging out, relaxing with friends, and sometimes even doing accounting homework on the cozy second floor of the Rathskeller. Although none of us wanted to see the old “Rat” go, we knew that our University would benefit greatly from the enhancements that would be coming our way.

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