Seasoned Canes: Fans Share Their Stories
That’s how many different stadiums Andrew Carroll has visited to watch the Miami Hurricanes take the field.
Out of all the different venues he has been to, Carroll said there are two schools (outside of Miami, of course) that stand out when it comes to the generosity of their fanbases.
“The best fans we’ve found were at Texas A&M at Nebraska,” Carroll, who turns 86 next week, said. “At Texas A&M, I walked up to a bar with some friends of ours from The U. A fellow walked up to me, a great big man. He said, ‘I’m sorry, but people from the University of Miami can’t buy drinks in here.’ And I said, ‘Oh really?’ He said, ‘Yes, because I’m buying.’”
Carroll, who graduated from Miami, has been all across the country with his wife Nancy. The duo has shared season tickets for over 40 years and has been married for 59 years.
“She goes to all the games with me,” Carroll said. “We tailgate together. We meet people before the game. Some of my colleagues that I’ve been growing up with, they’re not going any longer, but we still go to the games.”
Carroll and his wife began a fun family tradition 15 years ago. The couple invites their three children, who are each married and have children of their own, to one road game a season. No spouses and no grandchildren are invited – just the original Carroll family of five.
“It’s a very unique tradition. We’ve been every place. We’ve seen Maryland, gone to Florida State,” Carroll said. “We’ve been everywhere.”
Though his three children graduated from Colorado, SMU and Alabama, respectively, they all are passionate Miami supporters.
For the family trip in 2017, the Carrolls elected to take a ‘staycation’ at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables to watch the highly anticipated showdown with Notre Dame.
“There was no way we were missing that game,” Carroll said.
There was one rule for the Ashleigh and Whitney Thompson when they were ready to apply for college.
“I would not let them go to Florida,” John Thompson said, with a laugh. “I didn’t want them to have that mark on their resume for the rest of their life. I’m their dad, I was looking out for them!”
Thompson and his wife, Nancy-Lee, are both University of Miami alumni and have been passionate supporters of the Hurricanes since graduating in the early 1970s. Thompson earned his undergraduate and law degree from Miami and met Nancy-Lee while she was working towards her master’s degree as a flight attendant for Eastern Airlines.
“We lived in an apartment building in Coral Gables. Initially, we didn’t know each other. I ran into her in the parking lot. She was getting her masters of arts in American Studies at Miami,” Thompson said. “I thought, ‘Here’s a cute girl, she’s nice and she’s smart.’ We started dating and a little after a year later, we got married.”
Thompson, who raised his family with Nancy-Lee in Palmetto Bay, closed his law practice in 2001. He was offered and took a job as the executive director of Kairos, a prison ministry, based in Winter Park, Fla. He has been retired since 2013.
“We drive from Winter Park, we stay in a hotel and go to the game together. We have good friends who we get tickets with,” Thompson said. “There’s four of us, two couples who go to all the games. We love The U and we get excited to go to the games.”
Now, the duo drives to Hard Rock Stadium from Winter Park for every home game. One of his favorite memories was the “Edgerrin James Game” – a home win over UCLA at the Orange Bowl.
But one of his most memorable moments as a Canes fan actually came after a loss – the 1987 Fiesta Bowl.
“I remember after the Penn State game, we stayed at the same hotel as the team,” he said. “I’ll never forget going into the lobby and there were several of the football players and they were all crying. I never will forget that – how much they cared about winning and how upset they were that they lost. That was one of the more emotional experiences I had.”
Justin Sorel was born into it.
A Cooper City, Fla., native, Sorel’s father would take him and his younger brother, Troy, to games at the Orange Bowl, where he got the “full Orange Bowl experience.”
“We’d sit up near the student section and learn all the chants,” Sorel said. “It’s hard to pick any single ones that stand out. Notre Dame, Wide Right II, the beatdown of Washington…my dad instilled it in us when we were young.”
Even when he attended the University of Florida for his undergrad degree, Sorel, who grew up in Plantation, Fla., never wavered.
“While people were in the Swamp on the weekends, me and a couple other Hurricane fans I found, we went to a local sports bar to go watch Miami while everyone else was at the Swamp,” Sorel said.
His step-brother Jesse, who will soon graduate from Florida State, followed the steps of his two brothers in fanhood, always rooting for Miami.
Sorel and his wife, Elissa, named their first dog ‘Dorsey’ after the legendary signal caller. Their second dog? ‘Roscoe,’ after wide receiver Roscoe Parrish.
Their first son? ‘Braxton.’ You guessed it.
Sorel said it was a thrill for his family to meet Braxton Berrios at an autograph session in Palm Beach County before the 2018 NFL Draft. The signed jersey from Berrios, along with photos of the event, is framed and hanging in his son’s room.
“I have a lot of friends who are Gator fans. But they’re only Gator fans because they went there. My situation is a little different,” he said. “They don’t really understand. People ask, ‘Why didn’t you just become a Gator fan?’ They just don’t get it. It’s something that’s passed on through generations.”
Sorel and his family now live in Boynton Beach. The couple, along with Braxton and daughter, Harper, plans to attend every home game this fall.
“My mom and step-dad usually go early and set up the tailgate,” he said. “Then we meet my brother and his wife there. They have two kids, too. We meet down there, tailgate and then we go in the stadium and watch the game together. It is a family gathering thing every Saturday.”