UC’s biggest fan

The Bearcat’s biggest fan stands just a well-coiffed hair shy of 5-foot-2 and has been a UC follower since 1959, when one of the football team’s scholarship players offered to share his textbooks with her.

“You take the notes,” he slyly told her. “And we can share the book.”

The unlikely duo earned extra credit for their music appreciation class by ushering events, eventually began dating, and graduated from UC together in 1961. In a whirlwind weekend, they married the day after they graduated, and drove off to Green Bay to begin their lives the day after that. My parents, Ron and Peggy Kostelnik, were married for 32 years before my dad died in 1993.

Prior to that, he enjoyed a nine-year NFL career and then found success in business, she taught English at the high school, then college level and together they raised four kids.

Through all of that and beyond, my mom has cheered for her beloved Bearcats. She even sponsors a scholarship in she and my dad’s name and enjoys learning all about the recipient each year.

This season has been, in her words, “delightful,” as the Bearcats rolled to an undefeated record. She has watched every game and enthusastically offers astute post-game statistical analysis to anyone who will listen.

Which is why the college football ranking system rankled her with increasing ferocity throughout the year.

“Are you kidding me?” she greeted me one morning when I answered her phone call. “How is Ohio State ranked higher then we are? We are UNDEFEATED!”

She vigorously waved away any explanations about strength of schedule or Power Five conferences. “We haven’t lost a game! This is ridiculous!”

Imagine, then, how thrilled Grandma Peggy was Saturday afternoon when the University of Cincinnati beat Houston 35-20 to win the American Athletic Conference title. They will take on the reigning national champion Alabama in Arlington, Texas on New Year’s Eve day in the Cotton Bowl and the winner of that game will play the winner of the Orange Bowl (Michigan or Georgia) to determine the college football champion.

“I see the line has us 14-point underdogs,” Grandma Peggy said yesterday. “But, if we play the way we did in the third quarter on Saturday, I think we have a great shot!”

Go Bearcats!

How cute it this couple? My mom and dad, pictured here in 1961, met at the University of Cincinnati and have been proud supporters of UC ever since.
Sorry about the annoying reflection on this picture. My mom definitely wanted me to include it, though. This is the plaque my dad received when he was inducted into the University of Cincinnati Hall of Fame.
Here’s a very young looking Ron Kostelnik. He played tackle for the University of Cincinnati in 1959 and 1960.
My mom and my sister Kathy toured the UC Hall of Fame in 2011.
My mom has this pennant from the 1960-61 season, the year Oscar Robertson led the Bearcats to an NCAA basketball title. She would like to collect another won after her Bearcats win the NCAA football title this year.
My dad and mom stayed friends with Oscar through all these years.
On Thanksgiving Day in 1999 my brother, sisters and I snuck into the UC stadium with our families and had some fun running around the football field. This was our Christmas card that year. That year, the Bearcats upset the Badgers in Cincinnati. This year, they beat Houston in this same stadium, to win the AAC title.
My son Charlie bought his grandma this cool Bearcat lamp for Christmas one year. She displays it next to the book I made her commemorating the time she got to lead the Badger Band.
Grandma Peggy is Cincinnati’s biggest fan and, while I’m not posting her age because she gets mad at me when I do, I will say she does not look much older than the picture from the year she graduated UC 60 years ago.

6 thoughts on “UC’s biggest fan

  1. A great day for U of Cincinnati athletics – good for your mom! I wish the Bearcats the best, except when they play Xavier in the Crosstown Shootout basketball game each year. (Gotta support my younger son’s alma mater.)

    1. Not sure how I missed this comment Dick. Understandable that you would support Xavier…hopefully you also toast them with a hearty helping of Graeter’s Ice Cream.

  2. My Cougars stayed in the game until the 2nd half. Despite our loss, happy that Cincinnati accomplished what no one else in the smaller conferences could! Congrats!! Now go beat Alabama!! And take your mom to Arlington for the semi-finals!

  3. Good luck to the BEAR CATS . Your Mom has to be tied for being UC’s biggest fan. Your DAD’S right beside her looking down on them. I’ll be having a coal miners shot, beer & wine after the CAT’S beat those BAMA BOYS. Your right your mom ages very well. My whole family will be CHEERING for them.GO CATS. They did everything right to have a shot of the title.

    1. I remember my Pap enjoying those coal miner shots. Just hung my garlic ornament and I thought of you.

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