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The University of Texas at San Antonio Online Magazine

UTSA Alumni Association Tailgating

A Roadrunner Experience

Leah and Roland Pastrano love UTSA’s football tailgate festivities so much, they would not mind having the parties go on year round, instead of only during the handful of home games played at the Alamodome.

Having hosted their own tailgate fandango since the university initiated its football program in 2011, the couple is so involved with the pre-game tradition that they say it is out of the question to miss just one weekend’s worth of action.

In fact, the pair of diehard Roadrunners even decided to buy a house in downtown San Antonio just to be close to the action on Saturday game days.

Joining the Alumni Association and participating in tailgate activities "has afforded us the opportunity to meet many fantastic people that are passionate about the university," said Leah, a Marquette University graduate. "The sense of pride, camaraderie and school spirit during tailgating season undoubtedly strengthens our community."

Despite the fact that she hails from another alma mater, she is a life member of the UTSA Alumni Association, as is her husband, who earned his B.A. in criminal justice at UTSA in 1999. Both now work for a federal agency.

"It is all part of a big social event," Roland said of the family’s plans on football weekends. "Getting involved in Roadrunner Football is part of the fun and excitement and pageantry of Division I football. It is just a fantastic atmosphere that has been created downtown as a result of Roadrunner Football, and I hope that never changes."

On game mornings, things normally get underway for the Pastranos at their home, where they host friends and family for the first party of the day.

Leah and Roland Pastrano ’99 may have started a new UTSA tradition when they strolled with a group of mariachi players at Texas State before last year’s season finale against the I-35 rival.

While a salmon is in the smoker, the couple puts up piñatas and other decorations in the backyard to welcome their guests. Roland then hustles across the street to help with last-minute preparations for the Alumni Association’s tailgate event before the couple’s party gets underway.

Later, after the salmon is eaten, the Pastranos and their guests cross the street to join the hundreds of Roadrunner fans, friends and family members at the Alumni Association’s food prepping and eating festivities prior to kickoff.

Fans such as the Pastranos add to the excitement already generated by the games, said UTSA President Ricardo Romo, who regularly attends the Alumni Association tailgate.

"I delight in how Roland and Leah and thousands of UTSA alumni have embraced the tailgating spirit," he said. "The UTSA Alumni Association tailgate makes game day something you never want to miss."

The Pastranos’ decision to move to the Historic Gardens district across the street from the Alamodome is a testament to their devotion to UTSA Football, Roland said. It was also a matter of convenience.

"We were so excited about the prospect of tailgating in our own backyard, and the access nearby of the Alumni Association tailgates, that we can hardly wait for [each] season to kick off" another round of Saturday parties, he noted.

The Pastranos even got a new tradition started that Roland hopes will continue. Before last year’s season finale against I-35 rival Texas State, mariachi musicians played El Rey as they strolled with the Pastranos and their guests through the other university’s stadium parking lot.

"It was definitely a Roadrunner-type experience," he said.

–Guillermo Garcia

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