Tristan Sinclair in 1st Berkeley Big Game vs. mom’s team


Every year around this time, hundreds of families in the Bay Area find themselves divided between Cal fans and Stanford supporters, thanks to the proximity of the schools and the strength of their alumni networks.

No one knows that better than Stanford senior inside linebacker Tristan Sinclair, whose father Andy played football at Stanford and whose mother Julie, sister Alina and two aunts all attended Cal.

Andy has season tickets at Stanford and Julie’s parents have season tickets at Cal, so Tristan would always attend the Big Game growing up. The family will experience the 125th Big Game Saturday in a whole new way when Tristan plays at Memorial Stadium for the first time.

“It’s something that is kind of surreal,” Tristan said. “When I think about all those moments of being a little kid and just being a spectator, now being able to play in it is really crazy.”

Julie will sit in the Stanford family section, though she’s planning to wear a neutral gray sweater.

“I give my mom some flack sometimes,” Tristan said. “I’m like, ‘You should stay true to your school.’ But while I’m here she’s going to support me.”

Julie said she’s not conflicted at all as long as Tristan is playing in the rivalry.

“I want Stanford to kill them,” Julie said.

Still, she might not be able to help herself from singing the fight songs that she’s known after decades of attending games at Cal. So she’s bringing binoculars in case she needs to move to a more secluded area.

“Tristan knows all the songs too,” Julie said. “But he probably won’t admit that.”

This will be Tristan’s first time playing at Cal, since he missed the 2020 Big Game due to injury.

“It means a lot to us and I’m sure at kickoff we’ll all be reflecting a lot and super happy for Tristan,” Andy said. “It’s a dream come true for our family.”

Tristan’s sister, Alina, grew up rooting for Cal alongside her mom – Alina dressed up as a Cal cheerleader when she was 6, which led to plenty of ribbing for Andy from his former Stanford teammates. Alina wound up graduating from Cal and married a former Cal rugby player earlier this year.

But the choice wasn’t as clear-cut for Tristan and his brother Connor when they went to the Big Game growing up.

“I probably leaned Stanford over the years, but it was definitely always a thing of, who were we going to root for? What jersey are we going to wear?” Tristan said. “There were definitely times when my brother and I had a Cal T-shirt with a Stanford jersey over it.”

Tristan even wore a Cal T-shirt for his sophomore yearbook photo at San Ramon Valley High – a photo that Julie promised she wouldn’t share until Tristan graduated, but “as soon as he’s done playing, it’s coming out.”

But Tristan’s fondest football memories growing up happened at Stanford. Before Stanford Stadium was renovated in 2006, the players would walk outside the stadium to get to the locker room. Tristan and Connor would get gloves and wristbands from the players and then play football in their backyard with the game-worn equipment.

Two young boys wearing Stanford shirts and hats
A childhood photo of Stanford linebacker Tristan Sinclair (left) and brother Connor in Chuck Taylor Grove outside Stanford Stadium. (Photo courtesy of Sinclair family) 

Tristan remembers talking to Richard Sherman after a game when he was about 8 years old and telling the then-Stanford cornerback that his dream was to play for the Cardinal.

“When I’m running out of the tunnel, it still gives me that feeling of being a little kid sitting up in the stands,” Tristan said. “It’s always a special moment.”

Still, Tristan was recruited heavily by Cal, which offered him a scholarship before Stanford did. Julie said one of the biggest thrills in her life was getting to ride all over the Berkeley campus on the golf cart – “I texted my sorority group ‘You’re never going to believe it’” – but Tristan eventually picked Stanford over Cal and Notre Dame.

“It was a hard decision,” Tristan said. “I thought it over a bunch. It was more than a football decision. Because you have to think about what’s after football. So that’s why I came to Stanford. It was a life decision.”

Andy will be returning to the scene of the most frustrating loss of his career on Saturday. He went 2-1-1 in Big Games as the starting center under coach Jack Elway from 1985-88, winning both games at Stanford Stadium, but was a sophomore when 1-9 Cal topped 7-2 Stanford.

It’s evidence that anything can happen in the Big Game. Tristan, who played in his first Cal-Stanford game last year, said that it felt different.


Soruce : https://www.mercurynews.com/2022/11/18/stanford-lb-sinclair-enters-first-berkeley-big-game-against-his-mothers-team/

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