Bryson Carter has been coming and going to Clemson football games since 2001 bringing him to a grand total of 196 consecutive football games. This is a remarkable feat for any self-declared “lifelong Clemson fan,” but even more so because Carter has severely impaired vision.
At the age of 15, Carter was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa (RP), which is a rare genetic disorder that involves a breakdown and loss of cells in the retina, according to the National Eye Institute. Carter’s vision grew worse in his freshman year at Clemson, ultimately leading to him being unable to complete his degree, but his love for Clemson had already been established. In a 2017 documentary, Carter stated, “you want to be involved in any way you can, to be a part of Clemson, and not just football, but Clemson.”
Even though The Hill is reserved for Clemson students, Carter has found his home right next to the band for the past two decades. His regular appearance at home football games makes people to recognize him and give him the right of way as he makes his way to his spot.
On Monday, Sept. 27, Carter was invited by Dr. Mark Spede, Director of Clemson Bands, to address Tiger Band at the conclusion of their practice. Spede shared with the band that he first met Carter several years ago after noticing his cane and that Carter never missed a beat along with what Tiger Band was playing in the stands.
Carter shared his story with the band and offered praises to the members for their devotion to Clemson. To Carter, the Tiger Band is a tool that he can use to keep up with the game. Certain tunes from the band, correspond to something that has happened on the field.
“It was really inspirational seeing someone so passionate about Clemson Athletics and Band programs… [it] helped me remember why we do what we do,” said Clara Nichols, freshman animal and veterinary sciences major. Carter also thanked Tim Willis, announcer for the Tiger Band, and Dale Gilbert, Death Valley’s Public Announcer for all that they do.
He went on to say how much he loves college marching bands and fight songs. “If I’m in a good mood, I’m usually singing a fight song. It may not even be ours,” said Carter.
Alyssa Gourdin, a junior psychology major, said, “...having Bryson come speak to us was really sweet and motivating. To put in a ton of hard work and have someone that recognizes and appreciates our efforts means a lot.”
This Saturday will mark Carter’s 197 consecutive football game, and he will reach 200 games on Oct. 30 when Clemson hosts Florida State.
Imagine if Clemson football gave away a trophy to its, “number one fan.” Who do you think would get that? The largest IPTAY donor, a student maybe? The world may never know, and that is probably for the best, but Bryson Carter would definitely be in the running for Clemson’s “number one fan.”