2014 Finalist

Stephanie Stradley / Texans Chick


Houston Texans

Football

When the Houston Oilers were stolen from town, I was despondent. It was a done deal, and Houstonians couldn't do a thing to stop it. The NFL by far was my favorite sport, and I thought the city would never get a team again.

When there was a chance Houston would get another team, I swore I'd never take it for granted if the franchise was given to the city. And then the miracle happened. I was a day one season ticket holder, and went to every event I could. It was fascinating seeing a team built from scratch up close, and I wanted to be a part of creating and supporting a new fan community.

So I engaged in extreme forms of fandom:

*Attended the first Texans game very pregnant, and attended a game a few days before my due date. My doctor was a season ticket holder too and OK'd it, noting that the hospital was just down the street.

*Before the team was even put together, I shared my excitement about the new franchise on TV with Regis Philbin when I was on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Definitive proof I'm not a bandwagoner.

*I am a 1 time semi-finalist, 4 time finalist, 1 time winner of the Houston Texans' Ultimate Texans fan contest. Decided on a whim to enter the contest because I didn't know anyone who was excited as I was about the team. And participating in the contests allowed me to meet so many other diehards, many who are now friends. As a finalist, I got to run out onto the field before the team with one of the T-E-X-A-N-S flags four years in a row. It is the most fantastic feeling in the world. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ljs64xoRcuU

*I wear a different splashy outfit to each game because a real Texas woman can't wear the same outfit all the time. And though it is terribly goofy, it is also undeniably the most fun way to go to a game.

*Attended many Texans events in my alter ego persona. Walked alongside the Texans float a number of years for the Thanksgiving Day Parade. Was asked by the Houston Texans along with other diehard fans to be on the cover of the "Fan Appreciation" Gameday program.

*Voluntary message board moderator for the official Houston Texans message board and also the TexansTalk.com message board. When the Texans were first created, that was the best place to get information about the team, share tailgating information.

*Used various forms of social media to help get the word out of a volunteer organization called the "Traveling Texans," a group of Texans fans who meet up for Texans road trips.

*The Texans have some of the best tailgating in the NFL, and I've wanted to help others know the best way to enjoy it. I've hosted many people at my tailgate, and particularly enjoy inviting service members to my tailgate and other fun nearby tailgates.

*Started a blog about the Houston Texans for the Houston Chronicle in 2006. The Texans had just finished a 2-14 season, and I couldn't find the sort of conversation I found informative and interesting, so I decided to create it. Also thought it would be helpful for there to be a public voice for fan concerns and fun events, that I could help advocate for those things. If Texans, other fans or fantasy football folks had questions about the team, I could either give them the answer or tell them where they could find it. Recently, the Houston Press named me "Best Sports Columnist" in their "Best of Houston" issue. http://www.houstonpress.com/bestof/2013/award/best-sports-columnist-3577537/

There are so many great Texans fans, and I've very much enjoyed watching the fan base grow from its beginnings. The best part of being a fan is it brings all different types of folks together. So much in our society is about dividing people, but the entire city loves football, loves our Texans. There is no better feeling than 70,000+ fans of all cheering for the same thing.

I know of all sorts of "Hall of Fame" kind of fans. Face painters, road trip fans, tailgaters, bloggers, diehard, casual, and I like to find ways to connect folks together in positive ways. To just have fun, because it is easy to forget that this is what sports is supposed to be about. And I aspire to be one of many of these HoF kind of fans, to be an example of the good kind of fanatic in times when so much of the worst is highlighted.

And if the judges are subject to bribery, come to Houston and I will make sure you get some of the best BBQ the Texans tailgates have to offer. :)