Seasoned Canes: Fans Share Their Stories
The nightmare stories of losses must have resonated, because even after 18 years of being together, Javier Rivero’s wife, Kennya Rivero, has still never attended a Hurricanes Football game with her husband.
Rivero remembers when Kennya booked a Paris trip for the fall of 2016, surprising her husband in the process.
The bad news?
The trip coincided with Miami’s matchup against Florida State – meaning there was no way he could attend.
“She looked like she was going to kill me,” Rivero said. “At that point, I said, ‘This might cause me a divorce.’ I told my son he could take a friend instead.”
Rivero, who relocated to Georgia from 2006 to 2014 before moving back to south Florida, listened to Joe Zagacki and Don Bailey Jr.’s call of the game on a radio app on his phone beginning at 2 a.m. He heard it all – including the blocked extra point.
“It’s 6 a.m. in Paris and I’m cursing and screaming. My wife said, ‘See? This is why I don’t go to games with you.’”
Instead, Rivero attends games with his son, Joshua, and daughter, Gabriela. Though he has passed along his fandom to the next generation, Rivero became a diehard on his own in the early 1980s in a family full of baseball fans.
Watching a little black-and-white TV in 1983 as a 12-year-old boy, Rivero calls Nebraska’s failed two-point conversion as a “vivid” memory.
“From that moment on, I was begging my parents, ‘I want to go to a game, I want to go to a game,’” Rivero said.
He attended his first game in 1986, when his cousin Patricia brought him. From then, he was hooked. For years, Rivero and friends split the “family plan” at the Orange Bowl – two adults and three kids for $100.
“The Hurricanes are my passion. Anyone who knows me knows that Miami means everything to me,” Rivero said.
As it does with many kids, Elizabeth Dominguez’ love for the sport started with tag football on the playground.
Disinterested in running the lemonade stand, Dominguez opted for the field with the boys. Growing up in a neighborhood of two girls and 15 boys, she learned quickly how to hold her own.
“When I was 12 or 13 years old, I had three or four older cousins that graduated from UM,” Dominguez said. “We grew up in Miami Shores. Through our family, we of course picked the home team, so Miami Football was it for me.”
Dominguez herself eventually attended UM, graduating with a chemistry degree in 1991. Her passion has never wavered, and she spent nearly a decade converting one of her best friends, Anna, to join her side.
Dominguez met Anna, a Florida State graduate, when they were both nurses at a local hospital.
“She started to go to every game with me,” Dominguez said. “At first, she would root for the Hurricanes every game other than the Florida State game. She was a full-fledged Seminole. It took an eight-year transformation.”
Now, Dominguez, a nurse anesthetist, says her life “revolves around Hurricane Football.”
When one of her closest friends got married in Boston during a Hurricanes game day, Dominguez made sure there was a TV on in the back room during the reception, so she could alternate between the dance floor and checking in on the Hurricanes.
The duo, who has been tailgating with the same group of people for nearly 20 years, attends every game together. A vintage stuffed plush toy of Sebastian the Ibis comes along for every game.
Though they were unable to tailgate this past fall, Dominguez said she was excited to be back in the stands.
“You were out of your normal seats, and missed being around your friends, but it was just so nice to be there,” Dominguez said. “We enjoyed every second of it.”
Though he was born in South Florida, it took a college roommate at Emory University to get Martin Berman invested in the Hurricanes.
“I was born in Hollywood and graduated from Cooper City High School, but I wasn’t a college football fan at all,” Berman said. “Until I roomed with Steve, I wasn’t following a lot of Hurricanes Football.”
That all changed when the Hurricanes beat Nebraska for the 1983 national championship when the duo watched Miami win its first title on television.
“I graduated in 1984, moved back to South Florida and started going to some games,” Berman said.
Berman, who was watching Herschel Walker and Georgia play on television during his college years before the Hurricanes won their first title, quickly went all in on the hometown team.
“It’s one of the things we look forward to every year now,” said Berman, who often brings his children and step-children to the games with his wife, Jennifer.
Jennifer didn’t always attend, however – it took a fun tailgating party at someone’s house to first catch her interest.
“Now she wears more Canes clothing than I do,” Berman joked.
Berman first became a season ticket holder at the Orange Bowl in 1988, and still sits with the same people at Hard Rock Stadium as he did at the Hurricanes’ hallowed grounds.
“We’re already all talking about coming to games in the fall,” Berman said. “We’re really looking forward to it.”