Whats up BN?! As a long time (as in these past 2 years) lurker, I've decided to jump aboard and make my presence known, for what its worth.
I think what motivated this was reading this thread and realizing that- when I was a student, I had truly fallen short in my support of the Bruins. Perhaps my story that follows could be one that other students can learn from or provide some hope to older Bruins that its still very much possible to build a devoted fan culture (this blog alone speaks to the power to do so).
I came to UCLA in the fall of 2004. I was the first person in my family to attend UCLA. I had never visited UCLA before until Orientation, and even that didn't make me totally feel a part of UCLA just yet. I went to classes, hung out with dorm mates, and got to know people, but it took me a while to adjust. I had even taken for granted that Maurice Jones-Drew (or Maurice Drew as I knew him) and Marcedes Lewis lived on my FLOOR (Fir 4). Maurice was a great guy and always friendly- we'd have small chat in the elevator, and he even stepped in once when my roommate was playing Madden.
I worked at the UCLA Store during this time, and I remember asking a particularly tall fellow for his ID when he gave me his credit card (which was not signed in the back). He gave me a funny look and gave it to me, to which I saw the name- Dijon Thompson. After I let him go, my coworker was basically giving me a "WTF" look as to why I was clueless as to who he was. I didn't think much of it.
In 2006- that began to change.
The magic of the Gonzaga game, followed by 13-9, made me realize something amazing was going on. I still can't say I was a true Bruin fan yet, but my interest began to grow. I began to see how our success in athletics was bringing people together in a way I couldn't really describe. All of this triggered something inside of me, something that has lead me to where I am now. I started feeling an investment in the Bruins, and I started feeling the frustrations of the CTS era as it began to end, while feeling the magic of CBH as he guided our team back to prominence.
I graduated in Winter of 2008. My friend had received a scholarship from the Asian Pacific Alumni Association and I was invited to attend her award reception in May of that year. I didn't know it until I came- but the keynote speaker that night was Coach Rick Neuheisel. I couldn't believe it. Being the great speaker that he was, I couldn't help but nod at ever statement he was making about how he'd turn the program around, the history and tradition that is UCLA football and athletics, and how much our support (students and alumni) really mattered. It was then that I began to really devote myself to UCLA and its athletics, because I realized that the two are not mutually exclusive- the entire UCLA experience is a combination of so many things, and the spirit and energy of its athletics compliments its academics.
From that moment on, I stumbled on BN through just using google for a "UCLA blog" since I felt that the official Athletics site was a bit deficient, and we all know about the "great" reporting by the Times and OC Register. I began to read up more and more (again, thanks to BN) about the great history of UCLA athletics- something I would say a vast majority of students at UCLA are not totally aware of.
Thanks to this motivation, not only did I decide to become a better fan, but I also became more involved with UCLA in general and becoming involved with alumni. I think some BNer's went to an event last May where Coach Norm Chow was featured as a keynote speaker- I actually helped play a role in that and I was a liaison with the Coach himself. As a sign of my appreciation for his volunteering, I tried to make it out to as many of the Spring practices just to watch him and the Bruins work their magic. Let's hope he remembers me as that kid who would pester him after practices about being "the keynote" for an event.
Most importantly- I think growing dedicated to being a Bruin made me realize what an opportunity I had in graduating from UCLA. With my season tickets, I was able to bring my father to his first ever football game (not just UCLA, but football in general) against ASU. I had owed it to my father, as a person who came to this country as a refugee, and worked very hard to help me and my family make it to where we are now. Being able to provide for him for once, and getting him to experience the thrill and joy that is a UCLA football game (and football in general), I think was very special. While his eyes couldn't catch up with the action all the time- I knew that he was feeling the energy, and most importantly, he knew the spirit of the school that his son had gone to (and where his hard-earned money went).
So after all of this (and sorry for the length), I hope that all of BN and the lurkers can see from my story how much being a True Bruin Fan is not just some blind devotion to athletics, but to the spirit and strength of the UCLA experience. While I can see why we can be disappointed at students/alumni who are not as involved, but I hope my story shows that through the work here at BN, we can get more people out there and truly appreciate the value that our Bruin athletes and their programs have offered to the UCLA experience.