Section F, Row G, Seat 4.
That’s where you’ll find Felix Kinsley during any home football game; rain or shine, day or night. Felix is not your typical fan; he has a love for the game and the team that is unmatched. After chatting with him for only a few minutes, it becomes abundantly clear he is a powerhouse of knowledge for SEMO football.
The first game he attended was the 1977 Homecoming game as an undergrad. He was 26 at the time and studying math. However, his love for the team was by no means love at first sight. It wasn’t until four years later that he attended his second game.
“It was the Delta State game in 1981. The exact date was Sept. 26,” remembers Kinsley.
Felix has a certain memory for this team that left me in awe. He spouted out dates and scores and records as we talked.
Since that second game, he has been attending regularly. He was even able to go on the road with the team for 11 games during the 1998-99 seasons under Coach John Mumford.
He remembers his favorite game with incredible detail, even though it took place five years ago.
“It was the first and only time that we’ve beaten Eastern Kentucky at Houck Stadium. They were 5 and 0 going into that game, and I was thinking, ‘this is the game right here.’ I was thinking, ‘if they are really going to do something, then this is the game they have to win.’”
I could feel his excitement rise as the game was brought back to the forefront of his mind. His eyes closed, and I could tell he was right back in his seat watching the final seconds of the game disappear from the clock.
“And not only did we beat Eastern Kentucky… we trounced them! 40-21!”
Before I could respond or fire off another question, he continued to explain how Southeast ended up winning the conference outright after a loss at Jacksonville State because of a touchdown in the final 11 seconds and how that was all okay because Jacksonville had lost to Eastern Kentucky the week prior and to Tennessee Tech the week after.
“If we had lost to Eastern Kentucky, we wouldn’t have won the conference.”
Fair-weather fans are almost the norm nowadays. With Internet and cable packages that allow you to see every game so easily, it’s become increasingly popular to exchange that hometown pride for a shiny new team that can promise a trip to the playoffs every year. Felix Kinsley is not a fair-weather fan. He is a hurricane, tornado, blizzard, earthquake-weather fan, an all-weather fan, perhaps.
“People would tell me they’ve been waiting three or four years for SEMO to win the OVC. I always say, “Well, I waited 20 years!” he says with a booming laugh. “If I didn’t quit when they went 1-9 in 1983 and then 1-10 in 1984, I won’t quit now. No, no I’ll never give up!”
And he means every word. Kinsley is more than the Southeast Superfan, he’s also an honorary senator for the Student Government Association. He’s been attending senate meetings since 1980 but didn’t become an honorary senator until May 1, 2000. He remembers sitting at Senate as he always did, listening to the issues and participating as he felt needed, when the president called for a closed session. Only senators and executive board members are allowed to sit in on closed sessions, so Felix headed outside the room.
“I thought they must be discussing some big school secret or something,” he says, laughing.
Shortly after, the closed session ended, and he was welcomed back to the meeting.
The president began, “We decided to give someone the position of an honorary senator. This is a person who has been dedicated to Student Government and has been involved since 1980…”
“And I thought, oh my gosh!”
“…that person is Felix Kinsley.”
“And then I did this,” he says as he throws his hands over his face out of embarrassment, and probably a little excitement. “And I looked up and everyone around the Student Government table was standing and applauding me … my first standing ovation!”
I could see the joy as the memories overwhelmed him. Pure happiness.
Believe it or not even with all the accolades, Felix didn’t receive the title of number one fan until punter Joe Vucic (‘10-’13) gave him a shirt that read “SEMO #1 FAN!” But I think it’s glaringly obvious that he’s had the title for much longer. At a time when team spirit has dipped (but is definitely beginning to rise), here is a guy who is unabashedly proud of this school and the students who attend.
We could all learn a thing or two from Felix Kinsley.
December 15, 2015
December 15, 2015
December 11, 2015