Football season is alive and well for Ole Miss fans and alums living in New York City.
Story and Photos by LOGAN KIRKLAND
For many Ole Miss fans, football season is synonymous with Saturdays in the Grove and stylish celebration of the Rebels, even during seasons without much to celebrate.
For others who live too far from Oxford to regularly return, football season becomes a homesick reminder of a place they love. And in a city like New York, the crowded day-to-day routine couldn’t be more removed from the Grove’s stylishly Southern appeal.
But it doesn’t stop Ole Miss alumni and fans from gathering together on Saturdays to at least recreate a slice of the game-day revelry they know and miss.
At Tavern on Third, the midtown stomping ground for the Ole Miss Club of New York, familiar faces and Ole Miss decor fill the dimly lit bar every Saturday during football season.
Servers sporting Ole Miss tank tops and t-shirts create an environment that clearly resonates with Rebel fans.
“The Tavern puts on a great atmosphere for the game,” says club president Nelson Valentine. “It just gives you the feel that yes, you’re still in New York, but you really feel like you’re home.”
The club is a haven for flagship alumni and fans, providing a relaxing and exciting environment for all. Everyone in the city wants to have some sort of connection to the South, Valentine says, adding that viewing parties allow everyone to “get their southern fix.”
“Sometimes I feel like I’m in Oxford, I catch myself thinking, ‘Whoa, am I in New York, Jackson, Oxford or somewhere in between?”
– Connor McClain
“I think most everyone I’ve met still has that piece of the South with them,” Valentine says. “Our club can be that great link.”
The club hosts other networking and community service events throughout the year. “It gives us a chance to come together on a Saturday morning and give back to the New York community,” Valentine says. The club is also trying to create a scholarship endowment for the tri-state area.
Recent alumnus Connor McClain said living in the city has its perks, but there are a handful of things he wishes he could still experience, like early-morning waits at BBB, the calm atmosphere of Boure or even the long weekend lines at the Library.
”I miss sitting up on the City Grocery balcony or going to Ajax – you know, the small things,” McClain says.
The atmosphere at Tavern on Third is definitely one McClain appreciates, temporarily calming the bustle of the big city to enjoy a few hours of familiarity.
“Sometimes I feel like I’m in Oxford,” McClain says. “I catch myself thinking, ‘Whoa, am I in New York, Jackson, Oxford or somewhere in between?”
The club also serves as a great meeting spot for friends who work different schedules throughout the week, bringing everyone together even if it is only for a couple of hours, McClain says.
“It's a good way to keep those Ole Miss friendships and bonds alive even after we have our degree,” McClain says. ”I just hope the Rebels keep getting better so I can keep terrorizing more SEC fans in the city.”