When Michael Gohari stepped onto the Sun Life Stadium grass for his final home game as a student back in the fall of 2010, the intense feelings of pride surging through his body proved a fitting end to his undergraduate experience.
"I will forever hold the Senior Walk in a special place in my heart, where the blood is solely orange and green," Gohari said. "After watching our team battle it out for four years, it was an indescribable feeling to be able to be on that field myself."
Category 5, the official Spirit Programming Board at the University of Miami, developed and initiated the idea, which allows for seniors to take a lap around the field prior to their final home games.
Chris Freet, the university's Associate Athletic Director for Communications & Marketing, describes Senior Walk as a show of appreciation for four years of support, and a student-led tradition integral to the community.
"Just as they begin their undergraduate careers together with Freshman Walk, they end it together with Senior Walk," Freet said. "It's a rite of passage before graduation, and one of our longest standing traditions."
Dustin Rainwater, who spent all four of his undergraduate years rooting for the Hurricanes in the Orange Bowl, looks back on the experience with a similar appreciation. His final home game was also the last time Miami would ever take the field at the OB.
"I think it's a great experience for seniors, to include them in the game even in a small way," Rainwater said. "Especially in a situation like mine, where the Hurricanes were playing their last game in a historic stadium where they had enjoyed so much success."
Experiencing the game from a unique vantage point, even during a half-lap around Sun Life Stadium, provides a thrill unlike any other.
"Our student-athletes feed off the energy from their fellow students," Freet said. "Not just at football, but all of our sports. Senior Walk gives fans an opportunity to enjoy gameday from that perspective."
"To see the fans from their eyes, to feel the energy from the crowd...It's just incredible."