Join us as we highlight a new Woman of Red in each newsletter, talking Bucs fandom, a love for football and what the Bucs are doing to bring that to the forefront of the sport. Today, we're talking to Laura Byrne, who is the Creative and Content Director at Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine. She also happens to come from a military family that settled in Florida, settling her on the Bucs as her NFL team for life.
What made you become a Bucs fan in the beginning?
"I grew up as an Air Force brat. My dad was in the Air Force and my mom was in the Air Force Reserves, so we moved around a lot. When I was 14, my dad retired and we moved to Tampa, back when the Bucs had the sombrero stadium. Remember when?!? Growing up, we always had a college team we rooted for, my parents went to Florida State, which is where I went, too. But we never really had a home pro team because we moved every two years. The Bucs were my first official home team. That was special. At the time, we lived in Westchase, and had a couple of Bucs players who lived in our neighborhood which I thought was super cool! I was excited to finally have that home team. The Bucs have been my NFL team ever since."
What are your memories of watching or attending games?
"It's funny because my mom is a die-hard football fan. She's always been a big fan, so I grew up with that – seeing a woman who was more into football games than my dad. That was just kind of the way of life for me. I think it's cool though because why shouldn't a woman be a fan of football? Shoot, maybe one day we can get out there and play the game too with the guys. But I definitely think it's important for our fans because you look at most commercials and there's always a focus on the male-dominated fan base but women love sports, too. It was my mom every Saturday and Sunday screaming, hooting and hollering at games. That's what I grew up with. To me, that's the norm."
Have you ever attended any of the Bucs' Women of Red events in the past?
"I went last year with some girlfriends of mine to a training camp practice. It was fun to get out there and do some of the practice runs. We had a great time. It was just nice to be there and be among other women. It was a great girl's night out. The fact that you even focus on women and holding special events just for us is so unique compared to what other teams are doing – even other local sports teams."
What does it mean to you to see women being spotlighted in football?
"Don't you just love the girl power movement going on? Take my mom for example, she's a retired a colonel in the Air Force Reserves and I grew up with a very powerful woman to look up to. A powerful woman who also loves football! To this day, on some Saturdays and Sundays during football season, she won't babysit my kids because she wants to watch the game, or she'll just have it on at my house [laughs]. It's a sport for all and it's an honor that the Bucs put the spotlight on their female fans!"
Speaking of kids…
"I also love what you guys do with kids, with the Jr. Bucs Fan Experience. It's awesome. I brought my kids to their first football game last year. My littlest had just turned three and he was on Cloud Nine. There's just so much to do. It's not just a football game. We're all about experiences these days instead of buying things. We want experiences and it really, truly is an experience you can share with your kids."