Christie Leigh Mueller grew up loving college football, but after discovering that many of her fellow female students at Rhodes College in Memphis didn’t share that love, she decided to do something about it.
And that’s how she came to write “Gridiron Belles: A Guide to Saturdays in Dixie,” a book that shares basic rules of the game, etiquette, tailgating, traditions and lots of fun quotes.
Over the course of three years, Mueller attended games at every Southeastern Conference stadium to do research for her book, and she’s currently on a book tour, visiting a new SEC stadium each week.
A Louisville native who graduated from Sacred Heart Academy, Mueller is a business etiquette consultant and an Auburn fan, but we won’t hold that against her.
Her book is available online at at www.gridironbelles.com.
Tell me about the book.
When I went to Rhodes College, it was a very Southern school. I thought every Southern belle understood football like I did, and it turns out they don’t. One of my sorority sisters really liked this guy and she said, “But he loves football and you know so much about football … what should I talk about?” So I ended up hand-making her a book … and realized she probably wasn’t the only girl who didn’t understand football.
Of the stadiums you visited, which was most impressive?
I think it was Alabama. It’s a huge stadium, and they have multiple JumboTrons … and it’s fan-friendly. Their tailgating is just unparalleled; it’s unbelievable. They’ve mastered football: tailgating, fans, winning – they’ve really figured football out. But that’s not to say the rest of the stadiums are lacking anything.
What is a gridiron belle?
A gridiron belle is a belle who really understands everything that football entails; somebody who appreciates the game and is willing to have fun 12 Saturdays a year and just embraces football season. They embrace the fandom and that fanaticism, but they do it in a very feminine, ladylike way.
When did you develop an appreciation for football?
My grandfather (Ken Porco) played football for U of L. So my grandmother figured out how to be a fan very early on. I have a July birthday, so they would give me birthday money in July, and I would always save it to buy an outfit for the St. X-Trinity game … that’s kind of when I realized there was a girl’s aspect to football, and as an athlete myself, I really appreciate the game and the competition.
What do you want to accomplish with this book?
I really want to close the gap in the battle of the sexes. I really want women to appreciate and understand football and not be so judgmental toward the people who do love the game. I want men and women to be able to hang out on Saturdays and not just the guys go watch the game and the girls have to go shopping. I don’t want to be shopping on Saturday.
I want relationships not to take a break during the fall anymore because (football) is so fun. It’s something bigger than ourselves.
What has been the response to the book?
The belles love it because it looks pretty, and the gents are loving it because they want their girlfriends or wives to understand the game.
As far as game day goes, what advice would you give for looking your best?
Give yourself plenty of time to get ready. Look at the weather. If it’s going to be 100 degrees you’re not putting on a full face of makeup and you’re not wearing long sleeves. But if it’s cold, you need to make sure that your gloves, or your hat or your scarf is your team colors. You always need to dress in your team colors. Comfortable shoes are a big thing.
Any especially notable team traditions?
Not to be biased, but Auburn has a great tradition of rolling Toomer’s Corner. After a win, everybody toilet papers these great oak trees right in the center of campus. It looks like a blizzard.
I definitely want to write a gridiron belles cookbook just because the food is such a big part of tailgating in the South. (She’s accepting recipe submissions.)
photo by CHRIS HUMPHREYS | Voice-Tribune
Category: The Spotlight
About the Author (Author Profile)
Jacob Glassner, News Editor/Plate Spinner
Jacob usually has his eyes glued to a computer screen, editing stories and making sure the paper gets out the door each week. Multi-tasking is his modus operandi – similar to the plate spinners you’d see on the old “Ed Sullivan Show.” Turn ons: freshly-sharpened pencils. Turn offs: exclamation points!!!