By Staff Sgt. Jon Cupp
1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs
CAMP TAJI, Iraq -- When they say they're Beaver fans they're not talking about Jerry Mathers or the Cleaver clan.
Sgt. Jessy Lakin, a targeting non-commissioned officer with Headquarters Company, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division and Capt. Amanda Doyle, brigade provost marshal, are talking baseball--college baseball to be precise.
The Beavers they have on their minds are the ones from Oregon State University who shut down the North Carolina State Tarheels two nights straight to win the College World Series, which was played in Omaha, Neb. June 23-24.
Lakin and Doyle caught the series through streaming video on a computer and both stayed up into the early morning hours of June 24-25 here to catch the games.
"It was excellent having the ability to watch the games, unfortunately at odd hours, but we made it work," said Doyle, who explained that the games started at 3 a.m. here.
"It was worth it just to watch them win," said Lakin, who said game one in the series lasted until about 7 a.m. in the morning. "I still came into work the next day at 8 a.m., but getting to actually see the games was great, last year I could only listen to the games on the radio. I really wish I could be there to actually see the games in person."
The two die-hard Oregon State University baseball fans—Doyle from Sio, Ore., and Lakin from Philomath, Ore., have hometowns that are just a few miles from the college, which is located in Corvallis, Ore., and are practically next door neighbors. Many of the members of Doyle's family, to include her grandmother and cousins, are from Philomath, which happens to be Lakin's hometown.
"It's been really fun. I sent a photo of myself with Lakin to my grandmother and she got a kick out of seeing him," said Doyle, explaining that not only was it good to be working in the same place as a fellow Oregon State fan but also someone who practically came from the same town. "He knows all of my cousins so it was good to push that back to the families."
"It's good to know that I'm working with another person from where I come from," said Lakin. "It makes you feel more at home."
Being fellow Beavers fans gives them the opportunity to share in the camaraderie of the sport.
"It's good to have another Beaver for support who can help me cheer on the teams," said Doyle.
"When bragging about the Beavers, it's always good to have backup," said Lakin with a laugh.
Doyle and Lakin's love of Oregon State University's sports teams is deeply rooted and the two follow the school's football and basketball teams as well.
"The first Oregon State game that I went to was in sixth grade," said Lakin. "Ever since then, I've gone to the games and by my junior and senior years I had season tickets."
"We've always been strong supporters of anything Oregon State," said Doyle. "Both of my parents went to Oregon State and are local to that region. If I was there right now, I'd be there with them for every game."
"I'm borderline fanatical but I'd have to say that my family is completely fanatical," added Doyle explaining that she's the average fan as opposed to the ones who run around painting themselves or wearing cheese heads like folks in Green Bay, Wis., have been known to do.
Doyle also mentioned that her husband is also an Oregon State fan but missed the recent College World Series due to his busy schedule.
This year's College World Series marked the second year in a row that Oregon State's baseball team won the series.
"They've been absolutely amazing, but I was a little worried about them," said Lakin. "It was kind of a shock that they made it this year because they only had two returning field players on the squad."
Both Lakin and Doyle have their own different thoughts on what it meant being able to see their favorite team play in the College World Series while deployed to the combat zone.
"It's good to have that kind of distraction," Doyle said of the games, explaining that with the long hours and stress in Iraq, it was good to be able to take a break. "Getting behind your home team gives you a feeling of normalcy."
"It's nice to know that you can fight for freedom here and still have people back home who are free to play baseball," said Lakin.
This work, Beavers fans united: Oregonians cheer favorite team in College World Series, by SFC Jon Cupp, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.