They Read a UVA Today Story – and Then Went on Their Own Journey Around the Wide World of Wahoo Sports

May 2, 2024 By Andrew Ramspacher, fpa5up@virginia.edu Andrew Ramspacher, fpa5up@virginia.edu

When the nine-month, 232-day, 14-venue adventure around the wide world of University of Virginia sports concluded, Susan and Rob Decker high-fived one another. 

They were exhausted, but prideful on their walk out of Klöckner Stadium on April 13 following the UVA women’s lacrosse team’s overtime win over Boston College. They were low on fumes, but high off their accomplishment. 

“WE DID IT!!” read Susan’s Facebook post.

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A year ago, UVA Today introduced the “Fun Club,” a trio of UVA law students who set out to attend a game or match of each of Virginia’s varsity sports before they graduated

The Deckers, Charlottesville residents since 2000, not only read our story, they were so inspired by the Fun Club’s pursuit that, in August, they began their own trek. 

Their goal: Attend a game or match of each of Virginia’s varsity sports in a single academic year. 

“I’m someone who likes to do something from the beginning to end and then cross it off my list,” Susan said. “So, when I read what the law school guys were doing, I thought, ‘There’s a beginning and end here. We can do this all in one year.’”

While the Deckers aren’t UVA alumni, they are longtime Wahoo fans. Rob has worked at the University’s Licensing & Ventures Group as well as serving as an adjunct faculty member at the UVA School of Law for more than two decades. The couple has fond memories of taking their sons, Will and Jack, when they were young, to a variety of Cavalier football, basketball and baseball games. 

The Deckers stand on a UVA track with various sports equioment
The Deckers’ journey around the wide world of UVA sports gave the couple a chance to “broaden our horizons,” Rob said, when it came to knowing the full scope of Wahoo athletics. (Photo by Matt Riley, University Communications)

They were plenty familiar with the main attractions, but what the Fun Club story did was open the Deckers’ eyes to entertaining opportunities beyond Scott Stadium, John Paul Jones Arena and Disharoon Park. 

“It gave us a chance to broaden our horizons,” Rob said. “We have this great asset in Charlottesville, with first-class athletes and facilities everywhere. Why don’t we look under the hood and check it out?”

Well-trained as an expert planner through years of juggling her sons’ travel baseball schedules, Susan began filling a calendar with games in late summer. Their first trip was to Turf Field on Aug. 25 to see the sixth-ranked UVA field hockey team knock off No. 5 Penn State, 2-1. 

On Oct. 6, at Memorial Gymnasium, the Deckers put their own twist on the challenge by finding a UVA student-athlete after the competition and asking them to pose for a photo while holding a piece of paper that identified their numbered stop on their quest. 

Cavalier volleyball player Ashley Le was the first to fulfill the couple’s request following Virginia’s match against Clemson University. 

“We were kind of floundering in the beginning,” Rob said. “We didn’t know how to document it. But then we had the idea of having the student-athlete hold up the actual number per event – and the student-athletes were 100% receptive to it. They were so courteous and polite. That really impressed me.”

Cavaliers participating in the photos ranged from men’s cross country runner Wes Porter on Oct. 14 (stop No. 6 for the Deckers) to women’s squash player Erin O’Connor on Feb. 17 (stop No. 11) to women’s tennis players Melodie Collard and Meggie Navarro on March 24 (stop No. 17) to men’s golfer Paul Chang on April 8 (stop No. 20). 

“Going to all the places and watching these talented athletes was so cool to see,” Susan said. “Like, the golf, it’s elite-level and something I had never seen in person. And the tennis, my gosh. I've been to the U.S. Open, but you can go to the Boar’s Head for free and see high-level tennis there. And you’re right next to the court. Like, you’re so close. And I never knew about that. And I’m a tennis fan!

“So that was just like amazing. Like, how in 24 years have I ever not been out here to watch this? And that’s also how I felt about the squash – just unbelievable, such high-level.”

Beyond spectating, the Deckers found social value in their adventure. A conversation with the father of field hockey player Adele Iacobucci led to them later visiting his restaurant in the Philadelphia area. They also came away amazed at the dedication of the mother of a volleyball player who still made it to her daughter’s matches despite being a surgeon in Texas. 

“Ours sons played college baseball (at Roanoke College and Salisbury University), so we’re good at picking out the sports parents in the stands,” Rob said. “We were in their shoes at one point and could feel what they were going through – how intense and nervous they were.

“But then after the competition, we’d see them meet their kids, which was nice. I liked that aspect of seeing the game through their eyes. It took us back.”

From feeling nostalgic to gaining a new appreciation for the many outstanding teams and venues that UVA offers, the Deckers came away from their completed journey grateful for their experience. 

Following the Fun Club’s path is “not for the weary,” Rob said, “but you’ll be glad you did it.”

Media Contact

Andrew Ramspacher

University News Associate University Communications