Thudgate: Falcon Football


15-Year Member
May 21, 2008
Well, it's that time again. Falcon Football and of course Thudgate. One of the largest private tailgates in the country. If you're coming to the game on parents weekend, you are definitely invited to come to Thudgate. We are located just east of the south end of the stadium. Before you hit the parking lot. We aren't the tent covered area, you'll see us with our large RV and our flag post with the Thudgate and American flag flying.

When I first went to Thudgate, we had around 30 people there. Now, we literally have hundreds. And many people on this forum has also found it a great place to meet and put faces together with their online posters. We've gotten so big, the academy has had to move us a number of times over the years, and give us our own dedicated spot. I encourage those who have been to Thudgate, to post their experiences and encourage others to attend.

One of the hardest things for new academy parents, is to know that your son or daughter will be ok at the academy and in the Air Force. Thudgate gives you the opportunity to see the Air Force family in person. We have many cadets and their family who make Thudgate their home on football day. We have cadets, active military, retired, alumni, enlisted, officers, and friends. The academy commandant and superintendent almost always attends. As does many active and retired generals and dignitaries. We invite everyone. Including fans and members of the opposing team. We've been even featured on ESPN game day. It's really that big. Plenty of food, drink, and fun. Complete open bar. Adults and kids all have a great time. Just come as you are. If you want to see how close the Air Force family is, Thudgate is where you'll see it. And at the end, prior to going to the game, we always make a toast, to those cadets here, the men and women currently serving, those who have served, and those no longer with us.

I encourage Thudgate alumni who have been there before, to post your experiences. And for those who have never been there, to come. I honestly believe that coming to Thudgate, talking with current cadets, alumni, other parents, current and retired enlisted and officers, and the experience there, will let you know more about the Air Force and "our family" then you'll learn in most other places. See you soon.

"Kick A$$ Falco(n)"
We went to Thudgate a couple times last year. It really is quite the meeting place! My question is about the food. Who organizes it? Is there a website for Thudgate?
Who organizes it? Well, there's a core group of individuals/families. And then there's a lot of volunteers. For instance, today if I'm not mistaken, a group was going to get together to do some painting of the storage units, get the area nice, (the academy always moves us around a little bit as we keep getting bigger). While I consider myself part of the core, I'm not as involved as I'd like to because I live in wyoming, and thudgate/academy/core group is in colorado springs. But we start off, along with volunteers and financial donations, stocking the initial setting. Alcohol, Beer, Sodas, Mixers, etc. Along with the main food. The last few years, for the first game (Parent's weekend) and usually the other military academy game, the admin on THIS FORUM has sponsored Thudgate by donating the meat and such.

We also take donations at the game. There's a pitcher at the bar. But if we don't have enough, then the core group and some of the regulars just pays for it. I have to admit, when I first became part of thudgate, it was 8 years ago. We didn't anywhere near this many people. We had the RV, we parked in the parking lot like everyone else did, and it was basically BYOB and BYOF (Food). Now, we average a couple hundred per game. We have a complete open bar. We go through 10+ cases of beer per game. Hundreds of pounds of burgers, brats, chicken, ribs, brisket, etc. We still have everyone bring a side dish or desert or buns or condiments etc. A lot of cases of water. etc.

We don't have a website that's active, but we DO FACEBOOK. Here's the link.
Definitely like us and follow us on facebook.

And if you want to come again, please do. Become a regular. We invite everyone. We are "Air Force Family".

Thanks Mike! We paid our way at the bar but felt awkward eating the food. Our son is class of 2020 (Prep School last year) and my husband is a '79er. We will "like" the Facebook page. We are not on on this forum too often, but will check in more! We bought season tickets this year and hope to make most home games.
Way back in 2010 when our son started at the Academy, my wife and I were on this forum several times a day. Just like many of you, we were grateful to have such a wealth of information on all things Academy. Prior to our first Parents Weekend, we read Christcorp's post about Thudgate and made it our primary destination before the football game. We couldn't wait to meet many of the people who posted here and finally put a name to the face. I vividly recall meeting Christcorp along with several other frequent posters and their families. We met parents, cadets, alumni, Academy personnel, and friends. We were welcomed and it was the first time we really felt that we were now part of the greater Air Force family. Since then, we have been back 7 times...and each time it seems the gathering is bigger. We really enjoyed the Thudgates before the USAFA v Navy and the USAFA v Army games. Now when we visit, we're met with warm handshakes and hugs. We truly hope everyone on this board gets this same experience and whole heartedly tell you " Go to Thudgate!"
We have always brought a donation of a Jeremiah Weed (purchased at Bubbles in Castle Rock) and a food platter from Costco, along with a six pack. The pinnacle of every Thudgate is the toast with Jeremiah Weed. It is an amazing and truly bonding can not be missed. Our ongoing thanks is given to Mike (all 3 or 4 of you), the wives, and everyone who works hard to put on Thudgate before every game. We'll be back soon!!
Mike and Chris. Good to hear from you again. God, I miss you guys. I would say, that probably the hardest, yet most rewarding thing about being on this forum and things like thudgate, is that life does move one. I've met so many great people on this forum. at thudgate, and as part of the air force family. Yet it's hard to believe that after more than 8 years on this forum, so many of us still keep in touch. And that's something that Thudgate demonstrates first hand. Once you're part of the "Air Force Family", you're always part of it. It's hard to believe that just a little while ago, my son; along with Fencermother's twins were at the academy together. They graduated together and now are all Captains in the Air Force. Pima and Bullet's son went through ROTC. And remembering those before us on the forum like Hornet, Ramius, Cad, and so many others. And even though those of use who's kids have moved on beyond the academy; or posters who themselves have moved on beyond the academy, don't frequent here as much and don't see each other as often anymore; we're still family.

And obviously you don't need thudgate for that. It's just that thudgate is a great symbol of the air force family. I moved to Cheyenne Wyoming in 1992 with my Wife, 5 year old daughter, and 2 year old son. We had just gotten stationed here; coming back from Spain. Even though it was a stateside base, my friends were all the men and women on the base I worked with and associated with. We went hunting, camping, vacationing together. Fast forward a few years after going back to the sandbox a couple times, I retired. I stayed in Cheyenne and started working the private sector for CenturyLink. (Back then called US West, then Qwest). After 7 years there, moved over to the Dept of Transportation to be closer to my family. The whole time here, while I got along with those I worked with and neighbors, it wasn't the same closeness that I had with the military folks. This is one reason military families are so close. We are each other's best friends. I can walk into a VFW or American legion; sit at the bar and have a beer; and have more in common and more to talk about with a complete stranger who is a vet, then I can have with any of the folks I work with and have known for the last 15 years.

The GREATEST THING that happened to me and my wife, was when my son decided he wanted to attend the air force academy. After he got his appointment and was also recruited to play football, he was invited to the academy in the spring after signing day, to watch some spring practice at the academy. While at the practice, I ran into a few guys, who were football fanatics, but also said they had a tailgate every game where everyone was invited and they honored our military. Active, Vets, and those no longer with us. Sounded fun. I said we'd try and make it. After my son graduated BCT and parent's weekend came, I was excited about seeing the game. (I'm a football fanatic too). I watched my son play the day before on the academy JV team. That too was cool. But being from wyoming, I was invited by my son's ALO and other wyoming parents to their parent's club tailgate. Only seemed right. So we did. It was fine. Nothing bad, boring, or anything negative about it. Don't read into this. The Wyoming Parent's Association are great people and had a nice tailgate. But I WASN'T JUST A PARENT. I was Retired Air Force with more than 20 years. My Wife was part of the "Air Force Family" for 17 of those years. My son was now at the academy and also on the football team. My son had gone to his academy squadron tail gate for a while and was with us at the parent's association tailgate. Me personally, I wanted something more. So after about an hour at the Parant's association tail gate, my wife, son and I started to wander around. We cam across THUDGATE. There was about 30 people there. A little bigger than most tailgates. Rick and Mike, who I had met during that Spring Practice, remembered my son and I and it was like we were suppose to be there. I met others like Mike and Chip. (Yes, another Mike. There's a few of us). And some new parents who's kids just started the academy that year too. Which was nice, because my son saw a couple doolies there he was in BCT with. And it's not like it was just football parents or anything. Not at all. It's just that football is what initially introduced me to the Thudgate founders; at spring practice. Well fortunately for me, the Wyoming Parent's Association, only had the one tailgate a year. During parent's weekend. Of course one other in Wyoming. So I didn't have to choose each saturday where to go. My wife and I went to Thudgate. I'd say that within the first 15 minutes, with the first hugs, and then after that first Toast to those serving, have served, and no longer with us; we were hooked. WE WERE HOME!!!

And to show you how CLOSE HOME IS; as an ALO, I was chatting on this forum with Steve (Flieger). I invited him to a Thudgate tailgate. He accepted and was looking forward to it. When he got there and I was introducing him around, he stared at one of the Mike's (The co-founder of thudgate), and realized that the two of them went to high school together at the academy about 100 years ago and new each other. That's the thing about the air force family. Once you're part of it..... you're part of it. That's where thudgate comes in. Especially if you weren't part of the military, but now your son/daughter is. You're still part of the family. Even if you're not really big into football. You're still part of the air force family.

My, and my Wife's HAPPIEST TIME OF THE YEAR, other than when we get to go visit our kids; is LABOR DAY through THANKSGIVING. We get to see our air force family almost every weekend for 3 months. We have more in common and desire to see; people that we only see 7-8 times a year, than the people we work with and our neighbors that we see EVERY DAY!. Even during the off season, I'm in contact with our Thudgate brothers and sisters. My wife too. They are always emailing, texting, facebook, etc. I will retire from the DOT in about 5-6 years. My wife and I have spoken seriously of moving to Colorado Springs after I retire. We don't expect to be hanging out with our Thudgate friends every day. But we KNOW, that is where our Air Force Family is. Some at thudgate, some the military community. And once you're in the Air Force Family, you're always in it.

So, now you know how I got involved in Thudgate. Please come out. Everyone is invited. For you new parents who still have anxiety and concerns about your son or daughter going to the academy and joining the military; you are ESPECIALLY INVITED. You can see and learn about the Air Force Family in a lot of ways. But going to thudgate will usually give you a major concentrated dose of it at one time. And it won't be anything specific that anyone says or does. It will be the attitude, the aura, the atmosphere. We've actually had some cadets come, (Many do), who said during their first year or two at the academy, they weren't sure if it was really for them. But somehow they made it to thudgate before a game, and they said the saw the "Real" air force; the "Air Force Family"; and it all seemed right again. Happy to say they are successful officers serving our great country. So come on out. Enjoy yourself. Get to know others from the forums if they're there. Either way, welcome to the Air Force.

Oh, and if you look me up when you get there, and you ask for Mike, make sure you mention "Mike From Wyoming". We have a lot of Mike's there.
Enjoyed reading this. Same feelings about Navy family. I know I could get stranded in San Diego, Honolulu, Jax, Norfolk, DC or any other Navy-heavy town, call friends or shipmates I served with years ago, and they would get me from the airport, feed me, offer a room and a ride anywhere I needed to go. Wouldn't matter if the last time we saw each other was at a Hail and Farewell 20 years ago.

It's a family. It's a club with special dues. It's a connection.

I was at a wedding of a USNA sponsor daughter in MI this past weekend. I was waiting at the hotel Sunday morning for my pre-paid airport shuttle at oh-dark-thirty, and the man on the curb next to me had just had his taxi bail on him. I noticed his Marine Corps Assn polo shirt (red, of course), introduced myself, we swapped vet creds. I called my shuttle, and got him added in for no extra cost, because the driver was a vet. More sea/war stories on the ride to the airport.

At the wedding hotel, three of the groomsmen, USNA grads, remembered me from my time as a USNA BattO. They insisted on buying me a drink at the bar as we all caught up. They told me they remembered things I had said. Wow. At the wedding reception, I sat next to a retired VADM, for whom the groom had been a flag aide. We knew we knew each other, and finally figured it out. He had been in my brother-in-law's VF squadron when BIL was skipper, and had been on Top Gun staff with my DH as an instructor. We are now re-connected, and he and his DW will be meeting us for a Navy tailgate this fall.

This is what I wouldn't trade for anything.

Edit: I know if my husband and I traveled to the Springs to watch Navy play AF, we could drop by Thudgate and be welcomed, with the requisite amount of trash talk. DH would soon be talking with other pilots (you can tell by hand movements), and the extended family feeling would kick in.
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Excellent. And MJ, you are correct. Most of the times during the Air Force vs Navy/Army game, a majority of the Navy and Army guests come by thudgate. We are ALL brothers and sisters.

On the football field, we may be mortal enemies. But on the battle field, we are FAMILY. And family always takes care of their own.

To you captain: Aim High
One thing I wanted to convey, was from a non-military couple I met once at Thudgate. They mentioned how they have been on numerous forums such as this, college confidential, and the academy forums, and they learned a lot about their daughter applying and getting accepted to the academy and becoming an Air Force member. But deep down, they were still very concerned, apprehensive, and scared. They stopped by Thudgate during parent's weekend, introduced themselves, and began mingling. They came up to me a little while later and expressed how amazed, pleased, and yet confused that so many people; most who didn't even know each other prior to that day, could relate to each other as if they had been friends for 20 or more years. They understood how important it is for people to feel that they belong to part of a family or group. And they even understood why so many people stay where they were born and raised, to have families of their own and stay in the same town as the rest of their family. But they couldn't quite understand how this group of strangers, many meeting for the very first time, could be as close as those biological families that live near each other and have been together for so many years.

I understand this confusion. I simply smiled and said; "It's because we ARE FAMILY". They definitely understood we were; but not having a military background, didn't understand WHY? This is a very difficult thing to explain. How do you explain or prove to your kids "LOVE". They know you love them; and they love you. But it's difficult to explain. The best I could do to explain to this couple was: When most military people are around each other; active, separated, or retired; we KNOW what each other has "Sacrificed". We know what each other's immediate family has "Sacrificed". We also know, that if the two of us military people were in the right place at the right time...... Let me rephrase that to say: "In the WRONG place, at the WRONG time"; that we'd have each other's back. That he or she would be willing to give their life for me; as I would for them. This is a very STRONG BOND. It transcends race, color, gender, religion, etc. Not to say the military doesn't have some of these "Social" problems; they do. But most of those are political issues. Normally not personal with each other. So the bond between military personnel is very strong. Even among military members who don't know each other personally.

This couple understood. They even understood the why now. Then the wife had an "epiphany". Something I always knew, but never really thought about. She said:

"I think I understand the difference between the biological family and this military family now. The biological family, you didn't really have a choice about. You were born into it. And even though it's family, in time, you may even come to take it for granted. But the military family is something you voluntarily became part of. You knew each other would always be there for you. To include death if necessary. There isn't anything to take for granted".

I couldn't have agreed with her more. Now honestly; most of us in the military, don't think too much about this. Mainly because it's simply part of our lives. And being there for each other is probably what we "Take for granted". But that's not a bad thing. It simply means that we're SUPPOSE to be this way. It's NATURAL for us. We don't have to try or think about it. It's just who we are (now).

So for those of you still concerned, scared, apprehensive, etc. about your son or daughter joining the military. Realize that they are volunteering for the greatest thing they can. To serve others. To serve their country.
"Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends." (Which includes their country). And while most will never have to show that greater love; rest assured that your son and daughter are now part of a family where they will be taken care of, looked after, and that their "Brothers and Sisters" will also have this "Greater Love" for your son or daughter to protect them. I don't know too many communities in society that has that level of love for each other.

Just something I remembered from a couple years back and thought I'd share. This is what Thudgate is all about. The air force / military family. It's hard to explain. And sometimes I/some others forget that not everyone here or in person has the military background that we have, and might not quite understand our perspective. Hope to see you all soon. Mike.

Both my DH and I have served in the AF, DH being a USAFA '79 grad. Up until our DD decided she wanted to go the the Academy, and is now class of 2020, DH claims he tried to "distance" himself from all of it. The funny and great part about this now is that every time we have been out to the Colorado Springs this year (before, during, and after I-Day and A-Day), DH has run into many of his old classmates. It always makes me smile when he does because it takes him back so many years, remembering the good times and maybe not so good times that they all shared. He has now done a "180" and has quickly become more involved in the various support organizations for our cadets as well as the local AOG. Although, like many others, our MoKan Parents Club will be hosting a tailgate, we will definitely come by Thudgate to meet so many of the new and old families, especially the ones I have come to know on this forum. I look forward to it.

A couple more things I wanted to touch on from your last post about "Brothers and Sisters".

When I was active duty AF, that was and still is my family. I still have contact with a few folks from my first operational assignment. I still work with the AF every day as one of "those DOD contractors", and feel the same for all of them.

During BCT, my DD kept a daily journal of her experiences, thoughts, events, etc. - good or bad. She presented this to us on A-Day to read and for safe-keeping. When my DH and I read it that afternoon, one entry she made on the last day or two before A-Day said something about the bond she had developed with her classmates and cadre. She then corrected herself and said, strike that, "my brothers and sisters".
Excellent post Capri.

And I thought similar to your husband when I retired. I thought I would just move on with my life and start a new chapter. That lasted about 3-4 weeks. After starting my new job; which I really enjoyed, I realized how much I already missed the military. I missed the camaraderie; the commonalities; the experiences; and knowing that each of us had each other's back. (Even the slacker and crappy worker, you knew would be there if needed). Oh well; life rolls on.
Mike said it so well...I can't add too much other than to say I will always be greatful for his invite! Meeting "Mikey" and then seeing my high school classmate (it'd been 30+ years and yet we recognized each other immediately) running around in a was a good day!
And every year since...

I WILL be there this year; hopefully a few times...seriously...more than once!!

Quick question...If we stop by Thudgate, should we bring money, drinks, food, other items?

We will also be supporting our Parents' Club tailgate, but do not mind bringing whatever is needed for both.

You are welcome to bring yourself or anything you'd like. We understand how difficult it is to bring stuff; especially if you're from out of town and it's parent's weekend. But if it's easier, we always keep a pitcher on the bar where you could donate money instead. Whatever you're most comfortable doing.

Also, I'd like to send a shout-out to our wonderful Forum Administrator. This will be another season where he and this forum has graciously helped sponsor Thudgate for Parent's weekend. He and the forum will also be sponsoring the inter-service game against Navy. We always appreciate the help. Over the years, both Thudgate and Service Academy Forums have grown and expanded. 8+ years ago when I started visiting this forum, there were much fewer posters. Thudgate also only had about 30 people at the tailgates. Now, Service-Academy-Forums has over 26,000 members; with usually around 40-50 members online at any one time, and another 100 guests. Thudgate has grown to be considered one of the largest tailgates in the country; probably the largest west of the Mississippi; interviewed and featured on ESPN College Game Day; and on a really crappy, cold, rain, snow, ice, late night game, (Anyone remember playing TCU), we still have 100 patrons on a bad day. Good days; like Parent's weekend, we've had 300+. Thudgate and ServiceAcademyForums together are a great fit. One helps interested folks learn about the military, academies, prep, ROTC, etc. and helps them get in; the other takes care of those once they get there, cadets, active, retired, and family/friends.

Thanks again to all those that make this forum and Thudgate possible. We couldn't do it without you all. Hope to see as many of you as possible a week from tomorrow. (Especially my Brother Steve - Flieger.) Been too long Bro. Mike.....
Just tossed a tweet at you and then realized the axcount hasnt been used for a while
Don't do much Twitter, and only a little Facebook. Mostly forums and email. I'm pretty sure the Thudgate Facebook is current. Not sure about Twitter. Never could figure out the appeal to Twitter. If I don't have a specific person I want to just say what's on my mind, such as Facebook, text, forums, or email, then I must not have much on my mind. Lol.
I am so looking forward to meeting all of you at Thudgate. Since I've never been, can you please give an idea about what time you will be doing the toast? I told my husband about it, and we really would love to be there for that special moment. Thanks and go Falcons!!!
The game starts at 12:00 noon. So normally, we would have the toast about an 30-45 minutes before, so to give us enough time to break down and get in the stadium. HOWEVER.... With this being Parent's weekend, and a very large crowd trying to get into the stadium, I would say, that the toast would probably be somewhere between 10:30-11:00. Worse comes to worse, swing by earlier at the tailgate, I'm assuming you'll be at the stadium area, and ask about the toast. You can always go wander off and come back.

And for those who don't know, thudgate will start sometime around 8-9am. We'll definitely have some of us there at 8am at least setting up if that hasn't happened yet.
P.S. I have a large stock of "Service Academy Forum" business cards. Feel free to ask me for some while you're there. You can hand them out to your Son/Daughter's cadet friends, interested parents/kids back home, your parent's association, etc. This forum is only as good and strong as the members participating in it. We need to spread the message whenever possible. Thanks, and see you soon. Mike.