From The Desk Of | Lauren Gonzalez
Christie Leigh Mueller is a football fan, southern belle and the author of Gridiron Belles a guide to Saturdays in Dixie. She took a time-out on her busy schedule and spoke to us about football, fashion and her future!
Lauren: What prompted your love of football?
Christie Leigh: As many Southern belles did, I grew up in a family that revolved around kickoff times, away weekends, and hometown teams. It was my grandmother that taught me how to be a fan and how to incorporate being a lady while supporting my team. Combining two of my favorite passions, football and being a lady, SEC football was a natural career fit.
Lauren: What’s the history behind your love for Auburn?
Christie Leigh: I have two older cousins that graduated from Auburn and I spent a handful of weekends on campus being exposed to what it was like to be a Tiger. When it was time for me to decide on a school, I realized that Auburn was the place for me. At the last minute, I decided that I wanted to continue playing field hockey and be a collegiate athlete myself. Because Auburn didn’t have a team, I decided to go to Rhodes College to play field hockey but keep Auburn as my football team!
Lauren: What makes the SEC stand out against other schools?
Christie Leigh: Style. Every school has a devoted fanbase. Every school has deeply rooted traditions and pride. What the SEC has above the other schools, in addition to championships, is the style and grandiose manner in which we showcase our loyalty. On any given Saturday across the south you will find men, women, and children dressed to the nines out of respect for the players on the field while enjoying an elaborate spread that rivals a Thanksgiving feast.
Lauren: You’ve had a crazy year traveling to so many schools touring for your book, what’s that been like?
Christie Leigh: It was an adventure I wish every SEC fan could experience. 13 SEC games in one season was no walk in the park, but it was perhaps the most rewarding and enjoyable four months of my life! Every town was more inviting than the last. Every tailgate was more elaborate. Every celebration was more lively than the previous weekend. Every fan was more dedicated that his/her opponent. And every friend I made was as sweet as the tea we shared.
Lauren: What are your thoughts on A&M and Mizzou becoming a part of the SEC?
Christie Leigh: At first I was hesitant to extend my Southern hospitality to these two teams that seemed to be far, literally and figuratively, from the SEC. But of course, the commissioner didn’t call for my opinion! After spending some time on Mizzou’s campus and learning about the traditions at A&M, I’m ready to welcome to new teams to the greatest conference in the country. As long as they study up on our unspoken dress code first!
Lauren: What prompted writing the book?
Christie Leigh: A sorority sister of mine in college wanted to be dating a gent who was rather infatuated with UT. As she noticed that she was losing the attention battle to the VOLS, she came to me for help. I handmade her a book that explained the very basics of the game and gave her some pointers about what to say and what not to say while he was watching the game. As they started dating and ultimately got married, I realized that she was not the only Southern Belle who needed some help with understanding the Gridiron.
Lauren: Why should belles, and women in general, have a general understanding for the game?
Christie Leigh: If you don’t live under a rock, you are going to hear about the game of football for 99% of the year. From social events to the work place, people love to talk about their teams and it behooves belles to be able to chime in—especially in the professional and dating worlds.
Lauren: Why do you think some women can’t get into football?
Christie Leigh: Understanding the nuances of the game of football can be daunting, especially because Belles did not grow up playing football. It isn’t second nature to us. Thankfully, football in the south has partnered with tailgating for years giving die hard Xs and Os fans and passive fans alike a chance to still be a part of the game.
Lauren: How did you get into blogging?
Christie Leigh: When I started Gridiron Belles I realized there countless football stories to share. There are countless topics for women, the South, and football to be covered on my blog. I just try to focus them toward keeping Belles informed and motivated to be awesome.
Lauren: Let’s talk gameday fashion, what are your Saturday staples?
Christie Leigh: Solids. I always have lots of solids in every team’s colors, that way I can accessorize accordingly. Red, navy, orange and purples dominate my closet so that I’m always ready an invite to any game!
Lauren: How is college football different from pro football?
Christie Leigh: The actual game differs in schemes and strategies. The style of fans, however, is about as opposite of the SEC as the Big 12 or Pac 10 style. Pro football is more about jerseys, sweatshirts, and jeans. We all know that’s just now how we play down here below the Mason Dixon line.
Lauren: You mentioned a friend of yours who’s a wife of a Jaguars player. How did she react to the FL/GA game?
Christie Leigh: Ha! She has gotten so used to dressing for professional games that when the big cocktail party came to Jacksonville, she called to tell me she had “never seen so much seersucker or so many sun dresses in one place.” I just laughed because that game is always like heaven to me.
Lauren: And your gameday drink of choice?
Christie Leigh: I’m a Kentucky Belle so bourbon is always my drink of choice, but I start off my game days with a stiff bloody Mary.
Lauren: What quick tips do you have for going to a football party or tailgate, for those who just have no clue!?
Christie Leigh: If you have no clue about the game, cheer when the people around you cheer and don’t ask too many questions to the people who are intensely involved with the game. If you have no clue about tailgating in the South, put on your biggest smile and be prepared to be wowed! Don’t forget to compliment the host and send a thank you note to whoever introduced you to the South’s greatest past time.
Lauren: What can we see coming from you in the future?
Christie Leigh: You’ll see a second edition come out in the fall of 2013. In the meantime, I’m working on launching an SEC specific lifestyle magazine to be released this August. To add your name to the list to be the first to hear about getting your hands on a copy, go to www.GridironBelles.com