Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Marisa's Fan Spotlight

Published in Cowboys vs. Chargers Gameday Program (San Diego Chargers), August 21, 2010

Fan Spotlight

When the season opens Sept 13 in Kansas City, Marisa Gomez will be in front of a screen at Metro 53 with dozens of other Chargers fans. A Chargers flag will unfurl outside the door. Inside, a signed Charlie Joiner jersey will hang on display. Touchdowns will initiate "San Diego Super Chargers" on the bar's speakers and Hype Man will weave through a crowd clad in blue and gold, high-fiving everyone to kick-start the celebration.

Not an unusual scene. That is, until you take in to account its location at East 53rd street between 1st and 2nd Avenue in New York City. A group that started in 2007 with less than 10 people erupted to more than 300 at a tailgate party last season as San Diego played at the New York Giants on Nov. 8. A few hundred Chargers fans ate hot dogs and enjoyed a bean bag toss.

Gomez, 30, is the co-chair of NYC Chargers Fans. She credits the social media era for the ability to unify fans throughout the area and created a Facebook group with more than 130 members. Most are San Diego natives. "It feels almost like you're at the stadium," Gomez said. "We're tight-knit. Everyone knows each other's faces because we see them every week. There's something about watching the game with a bunch of people that have lived in San Diego or loved the Chargers." Asked if their presence creates animosity with the New York crowd. Gomez said yes and no. "We're from San Diego," she said. "We love our team but we're laid back. We're not angry."

Her apartment is filled with Chargers stuff including a starter jacket from the '80s that comes in handy during snowstorms. But the most special is the breast cancer team hat that she received last season. Her mother had just been diagnosed, and now is cancer-free.

Her favorite player is Philip Rivers. Her blue and gold No. 17 jersey offers New Yorkers a glimpse at her passion that gets magnified with further observation. "His leadership and commitment to the game is admirable." Gomez said "Not to mention his Southern accent. It's great."