Count the Thompson family among the thousands of Canadians who cross the border to participate in NFL tailgate parties and to watch live NFL games.
The Calgary family recently travelled to San Diego to watch the Chargers take on the Chiefs, and in the process added another chapter to their own NFL story.
The Thompson’s experience proves that the way we chose our favourite teams – and game-day traditions – are as unique as we are.
How did you become a Chargers fan?
My husband Jeremy moved to the United States to play junior hockey during the Chargers’ ’94-’95 AFC Championship season.
This was his first real introduction to the NFL, and he quickly became a Junior Seau and Chargers fan. As Jeremy began his pro hockey career, he played against the San Diego Gulls and got to visit the city a bit.
He loved it and it was contagious; as we had kids, they latched on to the Chargers as well. Two of them anyway. The third one likes the Patriots and whomever the Chargers are playing!
Is this a trip you make annually?
Jeremy and I have gone to a game in each of the last two seasons. This fall, we wanted to give our kids their first NFL experience and combine it with a Southern California vacation.
This was certainly a different experience than going as a couple. But let’s just say the Chargers should be happy about it – that was one expensive team store visit!
What did you have to eat before the game?
Eating is always an adventure for me because I have Celiac Disease and must follow a strict gluten free diet. When we visited two years ago, I found an amazing neighborhood restaurant called Trails Eatery that has wonderful breakfasts, both gluten-free and gluten-full. It is now part of our pre-game tradition.
It is off the beaten path and is a great place to chat with San Diegans and watch game-day excitement build.
The Chargers have a great array of food available at the stadium too, including lots of gluten free choices. Our kids had lots of popcorn, snow cones and lemonade to keep cool. It was a warm, wonderful day in San Diego!
What were the fans like?
Chargers fans are always great and are doubly excited to share their team with Canadians. We sat in the family section up high this time and enjoyed watching all the kids cheering on the Chargers. There were times in the fourth quarter when we were all on our feet, hoping the Chargers would pull through (the Chargers lost to the Chiefs 23-20). Everyone was friendly and very kind to take family photos for each other. High fives all around!
Jeremy also went to see the Chargers in Oakland while the kids and I were at Disneyland. He says that the Raiders fans may have razzed him at first but by the end of the game they were high-fiving and fist-pumping him and his cousins. He had a great visit to Oakland and enjoyed cheering on the Chargers two weeks in a row!
Have you met other Canadians who are chargers fan?
We have a few friends in Alberta who are fans and come down to games. It’s a great way to escape the sometimes snowy Canadian fall.
Last year when we were waiting for the train to Qualcomm Stadium we met two other couples from Alberta who were fans and going to the game. It’s a small world, full of Chargers fans!
Are you planning your own cross-border road trip to an NFL game? Share your story with fellow Canadian fans at @NFLCanada #NFLRoadTrip
Personal stories and photos – such as Jennifer Thompson’s – will be featured every Wednesday on the league’s Canadian social media presence.
Photos courtesy Jennifer Thompson @JennDThompson