by Mallorie Ann Ingram

First off, my Inspiration section of exploring the Space Coast is back. Last month, I was slightly distracted by a true inspirational muse, my chocolate lab, in our pet issue. But this month, it’s time to get back into the swing of things and seek inspirational finds on the sunny coast. 

By now, you’ve discovered that this month’s issue highlights college football. For those of you who know me, it’s no secret that the University of Florida is my alma mater. That’s why I decided to visit the Space Coast Gator Club’s Gator Gathering one evening after being invited by the president, Amanda Ferguson. You might say I was in Gator heaven. Surrounded by other likeminded individuals, some alumni and students about to embark on their journey to the university, it was quite an experience. Believe it or not, this was the first time I had attended an alumni event.  It’s been on my bucket list for a while and finally I see what the fuss is all about.  

As luck would have it, l stumbled upon one of the most influential and inspirational figures in football history, coach Steve Spurrier. He spoke to the crowd about his experiences and journey, and later opened up the floor for a Q&A session. Before all of this, though, I was able to personally sit down with him and chat a little bit about the upcoming football season. 

“Here, pull up a chair,” Spurrier says as I walk into the room. “I hear you want to talk about some football.” 

The “Head Ball Coach,” as he refers to himself, is back, coaching again in the Alliance of American Football league but still plans to spend some time in the Swamp. 

“It was neat that the university had put my name on the stadium and invited me to come back as ambassador and consultant,” Spurrier says. “I’ve got a little bit of a job that’s not too demanding. I appreciate my university doing that for me.”

Spurrier’s time is spent around campus, in Gator clubs, spreading goodwill and, like other Gators, is excited about the upcoming season. 

“I think our team’s going to be a lot better,” Spurrier predicts. “Not only coach Mullen, but the staff he’s brought in there. The strength coach is really fantastic at what he does. He’s a top-notch strength coach. I can see them work out. They’re strong, tougher and more fit, so that’s going to make a huge difference,” Spurrier says. 

“I think these guys know what they’re doing and I think we have better talent than a lot of people know about,” Spurrier continues. “Wide receivers are about as good as how many balls come their way. So I think this could be a surprising year for the Gators.” 

When Spurrier talks about football, whether it’s to a room full of people or one-one-one, it’s positively gripping and nothing short of inspirational. Ask anyone with a similar love for the game and they’ll agree. 

Be sure to check out our Scene section for images of other fans throughout the evening. ◆