Seasoned Canes: Fans Share Their Stories
Margaret Curto made sure her grandson, Scott Sutton, was prepared for that trip to the Orange Bowl in 1971.
“It’s going to be full,” she said. “It’s not going to be like usual, where you can run around the seats. A lot of people are going to be rooting against Miami.”
Curto pointed her index finger right in Sutton’s face and delivered one final message.
“Don’t you ever root against the University of Miami,” she said. “Don’t you ever root for that Gator. You hate the Gator.”
The words resonated with Sutton, who has remained passionate about the Hurricanes ever since he was introduced to them by his grandparents, who had relocated from Niagara Falls in the 1950s.
Without any pro teams in the area to root for, the Curtos – Margaret and her husband Mike – turned their eyes towards the Hurricanes, and a family tradition was born.
Sutton’s father, Warren, first purchased season tickets to the Hurricanes in 1989. Sutton, however, had relocated to the west coast of Florida near Tampa, where he attended college and still resides. He took over his father’s tickets and still maintains the seats to this day.
“Every game is an away game for me,” Sutton said with a laugh. “Betwen 1990 and 2010, I probably traveled to 40 different road games to go along with every home game.”
He estimates he has been to roughly 20 bowl games involving the Hurricanes, and says one of his favorite memories was the 1989 game against Notre Dame, where he and friends danced on top of their cars in the Orange Bowl parking lot after the win.
“I’m an old time Gator and Notre Dame hater,” Sutton said.
Now, Sutton travels down to tailgate at the home of one of his closest friends, who lives five miles from Hard Rock Stadium in Pembroke Pines.
“We tailgate at home and we wait until the last minute,” Sutton said. “We’re all about the game. That’s why we do it. And we never leave early. Ever.”
High school buddies with the brother of University of Miami quarterback Frank Baker during his time at Miami Beach High, David Rivero often found himself in the stands of the Orange Bowl in the late 1970s.
“Back then, they were giving away tickets,” Rivero said. “You could go to Burger King and buy a Whopper and get free tickets. We’d go to all the night games, since we played baseball and couldn’t get to the afternoon ones.”
Fast forward nearly 40 years later, and Rivero is still rooting for the orange and green – while maintaining his duties as the chief of the University of Miami Police Department.
“We love to get to Hard Rock Stadium early, hang out, walk around, see all the students excited – it keeps us young,” Rivero said. “I’m just a huge fan of the Hurricanes.”
He became a self-proclaimed “fanatic” once Howard Schnellenberger left the Dolphins to take the helm in Coral Gables.
“That solidified my love,” Rivero said. “I followed the Dolphins more than the Hurricanes back then, but once Schnellenberger took over, that was it.”
Rivero joined the City of Miami Police Department in 1980 and worked there until late 2006 before transitioning to his current post at UM.
“I really pinch myself that I work at The U. To me, getting that job…they had a ton of applicants, and I didn’t think I had a chance,” Rivero said. “When I made the final five, and then they selected me…that was the one of the greatest happenings in my life, other than marrying my wife and my children being born. It was a dream come true.”
During his time with the Miami PD, Rivero used to oversee the security detail at the Orange Bowl for Hurricanes home games, a group that included roughly 250 cops.
“I am proud to say that in all the years working the games as an officer, seargeant, lieutenant and captain, not one goal post was toppled over,” Rivero said with a laugh.
Now, Rivero meets up before games with a bunch of friends – some of them members of the force, others not. Six or seven cars meet at a gas station in Miramar and enter the stadium gates together every Saturday.
“We tailgate, cook some great food, and you never know who you’re going to end up next to, “Rivero said. “The U is such a special place, and I’m glad we get to play a part in it all.”
Tom & Barbara Buckley
Even on their honeymoon trip to Hawaii back in 2005, Barbara had one final wedding surprise for her husband, Tom.
Season tickets to Miami Hurricanes Football.
“He couldn’t believe it,” Barbara said. “He was shocked. Overjoyed. It hadn’t sunk in, I don’t think…it was always a dream of his.”
The gift helped bring the family full circle; Buckley’s father, Thomas Buckley, Sr., played tight end for the Hurricanes in the late 1960s before suffering a knee injury.
A lifelong Hurricanes fan, Thomas, Jr., met Barbara in high school, and both went to UCF for their undergraduate degrees. But when Barbara was accepted to podiatry school at Barry, she made the decision to surprise her husband.
“I had a scholarship to go down to medical school, and it was a big move,” she said. “But he was making that sacrifice to move down there. It made the whole move even more exciting.”
The family tradition has been extended a third generation, with the Buckley children – son, Thomas III (9), and daughter, Brielle (12) – also counting themselves as big fans.
“My kids have been going since they were in my belly,” Barbara said. “Brielle was due five days after the Virginia Tech game in 2008.”
One of the Buckleys’ favorite family memories came in 2019, when they were able to take part in the unfurling of the American flag prior to kickoff of a game at Hard Rock Stadium.
“It’s awesome. It’s an amazing thing,” Barbara said. “You’re carrying on this legacy of a love of football and a love for Miami. Our kids will do it with their kids one day. It’s special. We love everything about it.”