Clemson, SC and Wofford football coaches give tailgating advice

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There are few things as divisive as the team cheering on fall Saturday afternoons in South Carolina, but wherever you are, a little planning helps make it a family affair.

Go easy on yourself, hydrate, keep everyone safe (and repeat), and make memories together.

Powdersville resident Carissa Parnell knows what it takes to make a happy tailgate and a day of playtime with the little ones. His children, Maisie, 5, Madelyn, 3, and Silas, 1, are Clemson University Football Saturdays pros. Parnell said his family tailgates every game. There’s a learning curve, but once the logistics are in order, it can really be fun. Parnell is going big, but it makes the day much easier.

“Bring lots of snacks,” she said. “Of course the tent is a must.”

If possible, Parnell recommends bringing a generator and heater or fans, depending on the weather. She said sunscreen was necessary. It also helps to set up a play area at the tailgating spot.

“We love the fake grass you can buy at Lowe’s because it keeps kids from getting muddy and gives baby a place to crawl,” she said. “It also keeps clothes clean while they play.”

Children’s camping chairs and stuffed tigers arrive, and Parnell also brings coloring books, crayons and stickers.

One of Carissa Parnell's children tailgating at a Clemson University football game.

“They stain the top of our tailgate bins,” she said.

Parking lot and stadium rules vary, but for Clemson games, Parnell recommends bringing water bottles to keep everyone hydrated and happy during the game. She noted that little ones who will be sitting on a parent’s lap don’t need a ticket. (Be sure to check your game and stadium policies.) Ahead of the game, Parnell said fans tailgating near Clemson’s Littlejohn Coliseum can access an air-conditioned viewing area. Once in the stadium, she recommends using the family toilets if needed and bringing hearing protection for the little ones.

Josh Conklin, Wofford football coach

Wofford head coach Josh Conklin on the pitch before a match.

“I remember going to football games with my family as a kid in South Dakota and it had a big impact on me when I started playing football and then becoming a coach,” did he declare.

“The atmosphere on game days at Wofford College is phenomenal. It’s a family-friendly and safe environment. Families can come and watch the game without the hassles such as parking and traffic found at larger schools. The tailgating around the stadium, as well as the games and activities set up around the stadium before the game, is great for a family. games is to slide down the hill into the end zone.

Shane Beamer, South Carolina football coach

Shane Beamer, South Carolina head coach

“I talk about ‘family’ all the time. We believe in family – whether in the household, in the Carolina football program or in Gamecock Athletics – we are family. There’s no better way for Gamecock Nation to get together than on a fall Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium to cheer on the Gamecocks. Not only is it a great atmosphere for the whole family, but a chance to spend quality time with those you love and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Dabo Swinney, Clemson football coach

Dabo Swinney, Clemson coach

“I think it’s super important for families to be able to come to games together and have the opportunity to have this shared experience of all that comes with game day in a place like Clemson – the pageantry of this one there’s something for everyone, all ages. But just the time spent together, the time in the car, the tailgating, the intensity of the games, the roar of the crowd, the cheers, the adversity – all of these things I think are great moments between a parent and a child. I think it’s great when parents involve their children in games, and Clemson does a wonderful job of creating an environment and a atmosphere where there is a lot to do, where parents and children can do it together.

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