BROWNSVILLE — The Patriots don’t have a fight song, though they do have five Super Bowl victories under their belts. Gina Randolph, a Massachusetts native who grew up 30 miles north of Boston, moved to the Valley during the eighth grade, though she remained a Patriots fan.
Today a resident of Los Fresnos, two years ago she created the Facebook group “New England Patriots Fans in the Rio Grande Valley” along with the one other Patriots fan she could locate down here.
“I thought all these years I can’t be the only Patriots fan in the Valley, so I created the group,” Randolph said.
“It was kind of bad timing, at the end of the season. The next August it just took off. We have almost 700 members right now. It’s really grown and just completely exceeded my expectations.”
Only Valley residents can be part of the group. Randolph said she wanted it to be exclusive. Now registered as an official fan group with patriots.com, the group maintains its central headquarters at Pins & Cues Bowling Center in Weslaco, where members meet each Sunday to watch games via Sunday Ticket, the NFL’s live online streaming service.
“Not all those 700 people come,” she said. “We have regulars who come. Depending on the week, we have 30 to 100 people who come out for the games. We’re very family-oriented. Even the kids wear little jerseys.”
Randolph said the group has members from across the Valley, from Rio Grande City to Brownsville, and Weslaco was chosen as headquarters because it’s fairly central. This year’s event at Pins & Cues will be a repeat of last year’s: a big tailgate party outside, then indoors to watch the game, she said.
Randolph said most of the members are Valley natives who got mixed up with the Patriots, though a few are from “up north.” Some have been following the team for decades, and others are new to it.
“We have two brand new members who came for the first time last week,” she said. “They found us through patriots.com. They just had a ball. They said that they had been texting their friends up north the whole game that they couldn’t believe how crazy we were about the Patriots down here.”
Texas may be Cowboys country, but Randolph said she and her fellow Patriots fans walk with their heads held high.
“It’s funny,” she said. “There are Cowboys fans everywhere. When you see a Cowboys fan, you don’t run up and say, ‘Oh, I’m a Cowboys fan, too.’”
But that’s exactly what happens in the Valley when Patriots fans discover each other.
“If I see somebody who’s a Patriots fan, I run up and say, ‘I’m a Patriots fan, too,’ Randolph said. “It’s not something you see all the time. We start talking, and they join the group.”
She’s expecting a big turnout Sunday at Pins & Cues. Asked whether the Patriots will pull it off again, Randolph replied, “We’re confident, but we know it’s not going to be easy.”
“Different teams have their strengths,” she said. “It’s who wants it more and who’s prepared more. There’s an element of luck, but we have a really good quarterback. You can never doubt Tom Brady.”