GatorZone.com Senior Writer
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- They are the moments that create the fabric that unites us.
Those moments that make you jump out of your seat and high-five the stranger behind you, those moments that you talk about for days afterward, those moments you recall years later in a way you might tell the story of the first time your son or daughter took their first steps.
They serve as the foundation for that famous slogan you have heard often, whether at The Swamp with 90,000 of your closest friends or during a Gators' run through March Madness or at the Ring Tennis Complex following yet another victory by the two-time defending national champion women's tennis team.
You know the chant well ... It's Great to be a Florida Gator.
What do those seven words mean to you?
Starting Friday you are going to hear and see them often as part of the University Athletic Association's new marketing campaign.
Those words are intertwined with the UAA's mission and lifeblood – its passionate connection to Gator fans, known from coast to coast and around the globe as Gator Nation.
"This message elevates a time-honored cheer, articulating what the Gator Nation celebrates every day – that it’s great to be a Florida Gator,'' said Florida Executive Associate Athletic Director Mike Hill. “And by doing so, it gives our program a singular focus on what it means to be a part of this family."
In an effort to capture and share why It’s Great to be a Florida Gator, the UAA marketing staff has created an advertising campaign that will feature unique perspectives from student-athletes, coaches and fans. The campaign will utilize print, digital and electronic media platforms, and fans can take part via different elements of the campaign attached to social media.
The UAA's ultimate goal is for you to experience future moments such as those memorable ones of the past in person, whether at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on an autumn Saturday, a spring afternoon at McKethan Stadium, or a Friday night in the O’Connell Center watching the Gators’ nationally ranked gymnastics team.
Those are the places where great moments happen.
Where were you on that night at The Swamp in 2009 when the Gators defeated Florida State on Senior Night in Tim Tebow's final game?
Were you one of the thousands holding a camera as Tebow and the Gators walked off Florida Field the final time as teammates?
Where were you when Al Horford dribbled off the final seconds and then tossed the basketball toward the rafters of the Georgia Dome when the Gators won the second of back-to-back national titles in 2007?
A moment that prompted this from CBS announcers Jim Nantz and Billy Packer.
"Back-to-back and unforgettable,'' Nantz said.
"It's been some year for the Gators -- national champions in football, and national champs in basketball,'' Packer added.
Moments we all have as Florida fans.
Where were you when Gators softball player Ali Gardiner hit a walk-off grand slam to defeat Alabama in the 2009 Women's College World Series?
Kelly Streeter, a UAA graphic designer who was heavily involved in the It's Great to be a Florida Gator campaign, was a UF student who recently returned to her second family after taking a job out of college at Auburn.
"I'll always remember where I was,'' Streeter said. “I was in my friend's apartment on the phone and couldn't believe it. I let out a big scream."
I have mine, too.
Where were you when I watched students pour onto University Avenue in 1994 after the Gators beat Boston College to advance to the Final Four for the first time in school history?
Where were you when the Gators defeated Alabama 24-23 in a thrilling SEC Championship Game a few months later?
I was at the Georgia Dome sharing the moment with a group of friends.
Those are the moments that bind us together, make being a Gators fan worth it. They have been taking place since Florida head football coach James Forsythe introduced his new team to Florida fans in a 6-0 win over Rollins 107 years ago.
Share your memories of why It's Great to be a Florida Gator by visiting the Florida Gators official Facebook page.
More of those moments are waiting to happen, starting when the Gators run out of the tunnel at The Swamp in the season opener against Toledo on Aug. 31.
Will you be there?