Longtime fan has perfect bowl attendance

Dec. 20, 2011

Monnie Lusky, left, tailgating with family members before the Army game on Oct. 22.

When Monnie Lusky ('42) attended Vanderbilt's first bowl game in 1955, he had no intention of making it a point to attend every Vanderbilt bowl game. But now, it's been 56 years since that first bowl game and Lusky has no plans on missing one anytime soon.

On New Year's Eve when the Commodores play Cincinnati in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, Lusky will attend his fifth Vanderbilt bowl game, all of which have fallen in different decades.

"Going to every bowl game was not on my mind when we went to the Gator Bowl," Lusky said. "We never thought beyond that. We just didn't think about it."

But each time Vanderbilt was invited to a bowl game, Lusky kept showing up. There was the 1955 Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla., the 1974 Peach Bowl in Atlanta, the 1982 Hall of Fame Bowl in Birmingham and the 2008 Music City Bowl in Nashville.

"I've got to the age now where you reminisce a lot and when it was announced that Vanderbilt had made the Liberty Bowl, I said 'wow, I've seen every game so far, I don't want to break my perfect record. I want to keep it intact.' I'm probably one of very few people that have been to every bowl Vanderbilt has been to."

Lusky is now 90 years young, and he refuses to allow age to stand in the way of his streak, let alone anything else in life. The former CEO of the Francis & Lusky Company - a business that sells promotional items - in Nashville, Monnie still goes to the office every day.

"I just enjoy what I'm doing and I don't call it work," Lusky said. "But I do come to work or come play, whatever definition you want to give work. I enjoy it and that is why I keep doing it."

A Nashville native, Lusky grew up a few blocks from Vanderbilt's campus and has been attending Vanderbilt games since 1928 when he was 7 years old. He still remembers his first game to this day.

"I would cut through the back yards to walk in a direct line to get down to the stadium," Lusky said. "When I got down there for my first game, the attendant at the turnstile said, 'if you run around the stadium, I'll let you crawl under the turnstile.' I ran all the way around the stadium and by the time I got back it was probably halftime. He let me crawl under and that was the first Vanderbilt game that I saw."

Lusky has seen many games since that 1928 season. Too many to count. As a youth, he joined the Boy Scouts. At the time, the Boy Scouts also volunteered as ushers at Vanderbilt's football games, so that meant more time spent at the stadium. Eventually Lusky would enroll at Vanderbilt in 1938. During his four years at Vanderbilt, he spent his Saturday's selling programs at football games.

His constant presence at Vanderbilt's home games took a short hiatus after the 1941 season when he served in the military for four years during World War II.

When he returned from the service in 1946, Lusky got married and was faced with a very serious question regarding his affinity for the Commodores.

"I told my wife at the time that we could afford a membership at a country club or we could afford season tickets to Vanderbilt football and basketball, but we couldn't afford both," Lusky said. "We had to pick or choose what we wanted to do.

"I'm one of those very fortunate guys who had a wife that loved football as much or more than I did," Lusky said. "So we opted to go with season tickets to Vanderbilt than membership in a country club."

Since then, Lusky has continued to be a loyal supporter of the Commodores through attending games and as a member of the National Commodore Club.

In all his years of supporting the Commodores in football, this past season has been one of the most exciting seasons he can remember.

"This is a very exciting time, really exciting," Lusky reflected. "I think we've got currently more excitement and enthusiasm than I can ever remember."

Lusky will be there on Dec. 31 and you can count on him being at the next Vanderbilt bowl game as well. It took 19 seasons between the Gator Bowl and Peach Bowl, and 26 seasons between the Hall of Fame Bowl and Music City Bowl. It's only been three seasons since the Music City Bowl, and a continued shortening of the wait between bowl appearances would be just fine with Lusky.

"It's been picking up speed here lately. We've got two bowl games under our belt in three seasons and I plan on adding a few more."

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