A week after losing a 31-29 nail biter to top-ranked Alabama, No. 11 UF hosted Tennessee Saturday and the Willis family was there to cheer the Gators on.
This fall Mainstreet Daily News will profile a group of Gator fans tailgating for each UF home game. These fans will claim the honor of Mainstreet’s TailGators of the Week.
Have someone you would like to nominate? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TailGators of the Week 3 vs. Tennessee:
The Willis family from Greensboro are longtime fans, alumni, and season-ticket holders. Bill and Patsy Willis, their daughter, Kim Boyer, and her son, Grayson Boyer, were on hand for UF’s third home contest of the season.
How did you become a Gator fan?
Bill graduated from UF and has had season tickets since 1979.
Patsy added she has been a Gators fan all her life.
“My daddy came here on the G.I. Bill after the war and we lived in Gainesville for a while,” she said.
Kim followed her dad’s footsteps and is also a UF alumna.
When was your first Gator game?
Bill and Patsy have been season ticket holders since 1979.
What are your favorite Gator memories?
The UF 24-20 win over Kentucky on Sept. 11, 1993, was Bill’s top memory.
“Doering scores a touchdown,” Bill said, referring to Chris Doering’s 28-yard touchdown reception with eight seconds remaining.
“We weren’t winning until then,” Bill said, referring to UF’s turnaround when Steve Spurrier took over as head coach in 1990.
But the Willis family has a plethora of memories to pull from throughout the years. Not only do they attend the UF home games, but they also travel for every road game.
“We do all the away games too,” Patsy said. “The SEC Championship and the national championship and all the bowl games.”
Kim added, “Wherever the Gators are we are too.”
For Grayson, his top memory was going on the sidelines and meeting former UF quarterback Tim Tebow when Tebow was inducted into Florida’s Ring of Honor on Oct. 6, 2018.
Do you have special items or rituals you have for game day?
“We’ve always tailgated,” Patsy said.
And it wasn’t always in the parking lot next to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
“We used to park down by the law library, that’s where we started,” Kim said. “And we’ve slowly moved our way up here.”
If the family has any rituals, it’s what food they make for each game.
“When we play LSU, we cook up jambalaya,” Patsy said. “We kind of think up what we eat by who we are going to play.”