Sun, Jan 06, 2019 - Page 11 News List

College fanatics live it up on billboard

‘READY TO GET OFF’:A mother of two and US Army veteran have been living on a billboard since Dec. 26 to support their teams, only descending to use the bathroom

Reuters

Clemson Tigers fan Nancy Volland, right, and Alabama Crimson Tide supporter Llyas Ross Sr stand on a billboard in San Jose, California, on Thursday.

Photo: Reuters / ESPN

Diehard sports fans often go to great lengths to show their allegiance, but some college football supporters took their loyalty to new heights when they agreed to live on a San Jose billboard ahead of tomorrow’s College Football Playoff National Championship game.

As part of an ESPN contest, four fans representing the semi-final teams late on Dec. 26 took up residence on a 13.72m-high billboard near the site of the game for as long as their respective teams remained in the playoffs.

The quartet, who were each provided with a tent and sleeping bag, has since been reduced to Clemson Tigers fan Nancy Volland of Mount Dora, Florida, and Alabama Crimson Tide supporter Llyas Ross Sr from Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Volland, a 59-year-old married mother of two daughters, said that her time on the 12m-wide by 2.4m-deep platform had flown by, but has come with its share of challenges.

“It’s not like camping in the woods,” Volland said in a telephone interview from the platform. “You have to go down 72 stairs to go to the bathroom. I’ve had to go a couple times in the middle of the night, so getting out of a nice warm sleeping bag ... and going down those 72 stairs and back up is the hardest part.”

Volland, who attended Clemson in 1977, is such a diehard fan that she told her now-husband that her only requirement before agreeing to marry him and move to Florida from Charleston was that she got to attend three Tigers home games a year.

Ross and Volland were among four people selected from a pool of nearly 700 fans who submitted video testimonials explaining why they should be selected to spend 12 days living in the air.

While on the billboard, adorned with a TV and giant logos of their respective teams, the fans are passing the time by participating in challenges in which they can win cash and prizes.

For Ross, a 39-year-old US Army veteran who served three terms in Iraq, living on a platform is just the latest example of his devotion to Alabama.

While deployed, he once woke up in the middle of the night to don Alabama gear and cheer on his team back home, even though he had to depart on a mission hours later.

Ross, who rang in the new year on a video call with his wife and four children, said that living on the billboard had not been that challenging, but he was glad his stint was nearing an end.

“I am so ready to get off this billboard,” Ross said. “Not only to see my family, but before I see my family to see the national championship game, because this will be the very first one I am having the opportunity to attend.”

For top-ranked reigning champions Alabama and No. 2 Clemson, the game is to mark the third time in four years that they have met in the championship with the two having split their previous showdowns.

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