January 16, 2014
Duluth News Tribune
Denfeld principal is dedicated to Denver
By Rick Lubbers
Section 104, Row 20, Seat 6.
Those three numbers are seared into Tonya Sconiers’ memory.
Super Bowl tickets have a way of doing that.
But Sconiers probably will stand in front of that seat much more than sit in it once Super Bowl XLVIII begins late this afternoon at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. It will be nearly impossible for Sconiers to remain seated once her beloved Denver Broncos take the field against the Seattle Seahawks.
“I am going to shift from a sane Duluthian/Coloradoan to the No. 1 diehard Broncos fan,” Sconiers said late last week while counting down the hours to kickoff.
The Denfeld High School principal is an avid Broncos fan and isn’t shy about it.
From the flags that adorn her car doors to the mementos that dominate her school office, Sconiers’ obsession with all things Broncos rivals the ardor of even the most zealous Packers or Vikings fans. Now she is fulfilling a lifelong dream to attend the Super Bowl and cheer her team to yet another NFL championship.
Sconiers, a native of Aurora, Colo., won’t be wearing even a trace of the Hunters’ familiar maroon and gold; instead she’ll be draped from head to toe in Broncos orange and blue. Her attire will include a No. 30 Terrell Davis jersey (hero of the team’s late ’90s Super Bowl triumphs), a Denver turtleneck, an AFC Championship T-shirt, a court jester Broncos hat replete with bells, and a few face tattoos for good measure. She’ll also have a “Go Broncos” sign that several Denfeld students created for her.
“We’ve had some good bantering between myself and students as to who will win,” Sconiers said.
She warned her staff at Denfeld that she would attend the Super Bowl if the Denver Broncos advanced. She made good on that promise after the Broncos defeated the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship on Jan. 19. Then it was only a matter of deciding how much she was willing to pay Ticketmaster (the face values of tickets reportedly range from $800-$2,500). The price she settled on will remain a secret, however.
“Don’t even ask me,” Sconiers said with a smile. “I have saved well in anticipation of being able to check off things from my bucket list.”
Sconiers; her husband, Mohammed Hasan (a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Minnesota Duluth); and their three children have lived in Duluth since December 1997, but there was never a chance that she’d morph into a Minnesota Vikings or Green Bay Packers fan. After Denver beat Green Bay 31-24 in Super Bowl XXXII in 1998, she flew to Denver to take part in a citywide celebration and victory parade. When the Broncos repeated the following year, beating Atlanta 34-19, Sconiers again journeyed to Denver to be with her Broncos brethren.
Now she hopes to celebrate another NFL championship in advance of any parades.
“This is a check-off-the-bucket list item,” Sconiers said. “You cannot take in the full experience of an event like this by watching it on TV. You just can’t.”
So she’ll check “attend Super Bowl” off that list along with four friends from Colorado, fulfilling a pigskin pact they made after Denver’s last visit to the big game 15 years ago. After leaving town on Thursday afternoon, Sconiers planned to stay two nights in New Jersey with a college roommate and then two days in Manhattan at a condo with two of her friends.
Sconiers’ husband, however, will not be seated next to her in Section 104, Row 20, Seat 6.
“My husband doesn’t know football, and it’s painful,” she said. “He does not have the love for football that I do or the passion. Our children do, and I tried to raise them right.”
Two of her three children are Broncos fans, she said, but one is devoted to the Vikings.
More than 82,000 people are expected to attend tonight’s game, not quite the throng of more than a million people that she hung out with at President Obama’s inauguration, but it should be cozy nonetheless.
“I love big crowds. I have no problem with big crowds — I actually thrive in them,” Sconiers said.
As for the weather today? She’s neither concerned by forecast temperatures in the 30s or 40s, nor the chance for rain or snow late in the game. After suffering through a rather frigid and snowy December and January in the Northland, those temps should feel downright spring-like.
“I’m a hearty Duluthian; the weather does not faze me at those temperatures,” Sconiers said with a laugh.
And even though the Seahawks boast a stout defense dubbed “The Legion of Boom,” Sconiers is confident Denver quarterback Peyton Manning and companywill hoist another Lombardi Trophy tonight.
“We would not be here without the work of the entire team. I’m talking from the defense to the offense,” she said. “The offensive line has been magnificent. Those guys have been gold. There’s no way that Peyton could have been able to do the things that he’s done without our offensive line.”
Her seat is located in a corner of an end zone, and Sconiers is hopeful her end zone sees the bulk of the scoring plays.
“Action can happen in that end zone — a fade (pass) or something,” she mused.
Regardless of where the Broncos score their touchdowns today, Sconiers will be found in Section 104, Row 20, Seat 6, standing much more than sitting.