There are fan caves and then there are fan caves.

A Stow couple has converted their basement into the ultimate shrine for their favorite team.

There is no brown and orange here. And forget the scarlet and gray.

This couple bleeds blue and gold and roots for all things Roo.

The University of Akron is part of the fabric of their lives, so when the last bird flew away from the family nest, Dave and Shelly Harris knew exactly what to do with newly liberated space in the basement.

They have been collecting UA souvenirs and memorabilia since their days on campus and now they had a place to put it all.

Dave graduated in 1979 and retired as a principal for Hudson schools. Shelly graduated in 1981 and worked in local media for years, including a stint in the sports department at the Akron Beacon Journal.

But they never crossed paths as students. They met a few years after graduation, at the gym in the old Memorial Hall. He was there with some players from his school who were part of a basketball all-star game, and she was covering it. They struck up a conversation.

A couple of months later, their paths crossed again. This time it was on a baseball field, where she was writing a preview about the team he was coaching.

Their first date was Tallmadge's prom.

"I had to chaperone," Dave said with a laugh.

They were married in 1984. Over the years, the love for the school they both attended and where they first met blossomed. They are now fixtures at UA's football, men's and women's basketball and men's soccer games.

And all the bobbleheads they've accumulated — they have countless players, the kangaroo mascot and one of former president Luis Proenza — along with flags, key chains and other collectibles have found a home in the basement.

There are even some bigger treasures, like a row of four original seats (12, 13, 14, 15) salvaged from Memorial Hall before the teams moved to Rhodes Arena.

"Allegedly, I have some stuff from the Rubber Bowl," he said with a wink. "I just haven't found a place for them yet."

Some of the stuff on display is personal, like the UA cheerleader outfit Shelly wore to soccer and basketball games back in the day.

There are even photos of their daughter Jennifer, a fellow alum who was on the UA dive team. Their other daughter, Rachel, also graduated from UA. Son Mike is now attending college in California after a stint in the military.

"This is our history," Shelly said.

And if you ever want to question the couple's loyalty — particularly on a rivalry football weekend when UA plays neighbor and conference foe Kent State — you only have to venture as far as the basement's bathroom.

Under the water in the center of the commode is a strategically placed Kent State logo.

"It is what it is," Dave said with a shrug. "That's just part of the rivalry."

 

Craig Webb, who agreed to write this article despite being a proud Kent State alum, can be reached at cwebb@thebeaconjournal.com or 330-996-3547.