Some say football is a way of life here in the South. Others say it’s farming. For Alabama Farmers Federation members, Linda Pierce and Tommy Beaty, it’s both.
Pierce, Crenshaw County Federation president and fourth generation farmer, loves Auburn University.
“I really made my decision [about being an Auburn fan] in the sixth grade,” said Pierce.
However, her decision was met with conflict.
“My dad was one of the biggest Alabama fans there has ever been,” said Pierce.
Tommy Beaty, Barbour County board member and fourth-generation farmer, loves the University of Alabama.
“The University as a whole is great to just go around and look at,” said Beaty, citing iconic places on campus such as Denny Chimes, the Quad, Bryant-Denny Stadium and Coleman Coliseum.
Beaty’s and Pierce’s extended families, split their allegiances between Auburn and Alabama.
“We may talk football, but it’s never ugly,” said Pierce.
Auburn and non-Auburn fans alike are familiar with Aubie, the team’s mascot. Pierce was a part of the group that helped make him what he is today.
While attending an Auburn A-Day game in the early- to mid-1980s with friends, Pierce said she noticed Aubie’s tail was pinned on with a large safety pin.
After talking with the mascot’s sponsor, the Aubie Foster Parent Association was formed. Several families in Butler and Crenshaw counties contributed money to buy Aubie’s costume for the next three years.
With Auburn’s increased financial support in the years to follow, their favorite feline is now the mascot seen at community and athletic events and especially on the football field.
Even though farmers and football players work on different fields, Beaty and Pierce agree there are some similarities between these two professions.
“You can’t win if you don’t practice and learn about what’s going on, and it’s the same with farming. If you don’t stay updated on what you have running, you can’t keep up with it,” said Beaty, who raises broiler chickens and beef cattle and grows corn and hay with his brother, Jimmy, in Louisville. Beaty adds that with both farming and football, you have to stay with it.
Pierce, who raises cattle, said hard work is required for both as well.
“There are risks, and there are great rewards. There are sad times, and there are happy times,” said Pierce.
Traveling to their family farms, passers-by instantly know which team Beaty and Pierce support.
Beaty said during football season, he and his wife, Norma, always put an Alabama sign in front of the house and fly an Alabama flag on their car. They also have several Alabama keepsakes in their home.
Pierce and her husband, Tim, have Auburn tags and stickers on their vehicles and fly an Auburn flag on a pole outside their home. They even have an Auburn-themed room in their home, complete with university memorabilia, a section of paprika-colored carpet and a navy-colored wall.
The Auburn spirit and Alabama pride follow Pierce and Beaty on Federation events too, whether it’s the sound of “War Eagle” for Pierce after fellow Auburn fans notice her Auburn alumna pin on her Federation name badge or “Roll Tide” for Beaty when Alabama fans see the familiar crimson and white colors on his shirt.
Though Beaty and Pierce have attended many of their respective team’s football games in the past, they now find themselves tailgating with friends and family and watching the games in their homes.
“I hope I get all my hay cut and in before that Saturday, but sometimes I do have to miss one every once in a while,” said Beaty.
“We’re not going to be out. We’ve got the best seats in the stadium,” adds Pierce, as television coverage of the games has improved so much in recent years.
Auburn and Alabama fans, and residents of the state of Alabama, are proud of the universities’ football programs. Both schools have brought the BCS National Championship title home to the state for the last four years (Alabama in 2009, 2011 and 2012 and Auburn in 2010).
“I think it’s a great thing for Auburn or Alabama, as long as we can keep it in the state,” said Beaty.
It is “quite an honor,” adds Pierce.
Even with an uncertain outcome of the 2013 football season for Auburn and Alabama, the spirit, pride and traditions associated with both programs have never been greater.
Beaty and Pierce may not wear the same colors or cheer for the same team this fall, two things are certain: both have a passion for agriculture and a love for the Federation.