Any time Beth Usewicz sees someone wearing Oklahoma gear, she always yells, “Boomer!”
For Sooner fans in Oklahoma, the idea of yelling “Boomer!” every time you see someone wearing crimson and cream sounds exhausting. But Usewicz lives far from Oklahoma where it's rare to see Sooner gear.
Rare to see the Sooners, too.
That changes this weekend.
With OU heading to Notre Dame and adding another stamp to an already impressive travel log, OU fans everywhere are excited about the matchup. Two programs with storied histories. Two teams with grand traditions. But for fans like Usewicz living in the land of the leprechaun, the enthusiasm is off the charts. Usually, they have to watch from afar.
Saturday, the Sooners are coming to them.
“I couldn't be more excited,” Usewicz said. “I don't get to watch the team play very often.”
The Chicago resident knows she isn't alone. As the president of the OU Club of Chicago — it's only a 90-minute drive from the heart of the Windy City to Notre Dame Stadium — she has heard Sooner fans buzzing about this game for months.
At least a couple hundred club members are going to the game, and Usewicz and other club officers have heard from other Sooner fans who are flying into Chicago and want to know how to get to the game. Spots on two charter busses have already been filled, and people are still calling looking for a way to South Bend.
“There's going to be a lot of crimson and cream in that stadium,” Usewicz said.
She can't wait to see it.
Usewicz is Sooner born and bred — though she was raised in Columbia, Mo., amid rabid Tiger fans.
“So I was harassed my entire life,” she said.
But that didn't change her crimson and cream stripes. Her dad made sure of that.
He is a native of New Jersey who went to OU because of the geology school. While there, he got bachelor's and master's degrees and a deep passion for Sooner football.
He passed it on to his daughter.
“We are crimson and cream through and through,” she said. “Most people would say it's obnoxious, but I think it's healthy.”
Usewicz went to OU in the 90s, earning a communications degree and started a career in college athletics. She did media relations in places like New York and Boston. Everywhere she went, she found Sooner fans.
That was the case when she moved to Chicago in 2005 — she now works for Follett Higher Education Group, which manages hundreds of college bookstores around the country — but she also found Notre Dame fans there.
Lots and lots of Notre Dame fans.
Some are grads. Some are Irish. Some are Catholic. Some are a combination of those things. But all are obsessed with the Fighting Irish.
Usewicz gets a Sooner fix with watch parties and get togethers with the OU group in Chicago. There are usually a couple hundred fans when the group gathers to watch football games at Declan's Irish Pub, a bar in Chicago's historic Old Town area.
Usewicz also talks OU football with her dad all the time. They text or talk on the phone numerous times during games.
But there's something special about getting to see your team in person — in your own backyard.
“I got tickets, which I didn't think was going to happen,” Usewicz said. “I couldn't be more thrilled for the experience.”
She plans to soak in all the crimson-colored glory.
And probably yell “Boomer!” a few times, too.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.