2003. The big one. Georgia vs. Clemson. The Oldhams vs. the Bates. Tanya Sichynsky couldn’t stay neutral for much longer. She needed to pick a side.
Sure, she was 10 years old, but this is the South. Everyone has a favorite team. She needed to pick a side.
Georgia won the game 30-0. As she chased the her friend Justin, a staunch Clemson fan, teasing him and shouting “Go Dawgs!”, Tanya picked her side.
“That’s when the lightbulb went off, and I realized ‘Oh wait. Football is fun!’” said Tanya, a broadcast journalism student at the University of Georgia.
Though she was born and raised in Georgia, Sichynsky never quite connected to the Southern culture. Both of her parents were transplants: her father, a Jets fans from Brooklyn, and mother, a Cuban immigrant, moved to metro Atlanta in the late 80’s.
“I didn’t really identify with the Southern thing that goes on down here. You’re an outsider, so it seems crazy,” said Tanya.
It took a group of family friends to show her the ways of a true Southerner. Two families, to be exact.
The Sichynskys spent every Saturday watching college football with two families; the Oldhams, die-hard Georgia Bulldog fans, and the Bates, huge Clemson Tiger fans. It was on these Saturdays growing up that Tanya started to develop a love for sports and college football in general.
“At 10am, we would go to one of their houses and watch the entire slate of college football games the whole day. Both of the kids were my age so we would hang out all the time and go one family vacations together too” said Tanya.
At first, Tanya rooted for both Georgia and Clemson. But after the beatd-own head to head, she declared her alliegance to the Bulldogs.
She attended her first Georgia game as a sophomore in high school, a loss to George Tech in the pouring rain. Still, Tanya has stayed loyal to her favorite team, now as a junior broadcast journalism major at UGA. And though she loves the sport, she realizes that there is so much more to learn.
“ I bought my mom a Football For Dummies book for Christmas a few years ago, and I still break it open sometimes,” said Tanya. “But I like always learning something new about sports.”
The will to learn is exactly what drives Tanya as an aspiring sports journalist. She has always loved writing. She was the sports editor of her high school newspaper. Talking sports with her male friends in high school was a common activity. Sports journalism was a natural fit., as she aspires to make it big.
But it all began at the Oldham’s house one fall afternoon 10 years ago.