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Newton Eastside grad witnessed UGA title win firsthand
Duncan Jourdan
Duncan Jourdan, an Eastside High School graduate, is a member of UGA’s Redcoat Marching Band. - photo by Special to The News

MONROE, Ga. — When Kelee Ringo jumped up to catch an errant Bryce Young pass, not only intercepting Alabama’s desperation throw but then sprinting down the field to score a touchdown to seal the win and secure Georgia’s first national championship in 41 years, Duncan Jourdan was there to see it.

“It was sustained chaos,” Jourdan, a Monroe native and a sophomore at the University of Georgia, said. “Everyone was just screaming.”

But he couldn’t join in on the screaming right away. After all, he had to pick up his mellophone and play.

Jourdan, a graduate of Eastside High School, is a member of UGA’s famed Redcoat Marching Band, so he attended the national title game in Indianapolis decked out in the red and black of the band uniform, taking in the glory alongside the rest of the band as UGA defeated the Crimson Tide to erase decades of what-ifs and almosts in winning it all at last.

“There’s no describing the experience of it all,” Jourdan said.

It meant a lot to him as the culmination of a childhood steeped in UGA.

“Both my parents (Eastside teacher Lee and Betsy Jourdan) and my brother (Lee Jourdan Jr.) went to UGA,” Jourdan said. “I grew up pretty much surrounded by it.”

In particular, he grew up obsessed with the Redcoats.

“We had season tickets to Georgia football games,” Jourdan said. “I went with them from the time I was a little kid but I had trouble focusing on the game because I was always distracted by the band. I’ve wanted to be a Redcoat since I was 6.”

He joined the Redcoats as soon as he reached UGA but last year’s season was a disappointment due to COVID-19 restrictions. The one home game he was schedule to attend, against Vanderbilt, was canceled and never rescheduled, meaning he never got to take the stands as a player.

This year was different, as he traveled with the band to places like Charlotte, North Carolina; Miami, Florida, for the Orange Bowl; and, of course, Indy for the biggest game of them all.

“It was very cool,” Jourdan said.

He wasn’t the only person from Monroe in the stands wearing a Redcoats uniform, of course.

Isaac Stone, a sophomore at UGA and a graduate of Monroe Area High School, also was at the game decked out in the Redcoats finery, a sousaphone draped over his shoulders as he took in the seemingly impossible win.

“It was surreal,” Stone said. “It was insane. When Ringo caught that interception, the stadium exploded. Everyone around us were crying and cheering.”

Stone was aware of the title drought of course, but it was hard to really imagine how long that had been for some fans.

“I knew we hadn’t won since 1980,” Stone said. “It was devastating when we lost the SEC championship, so it was great to see us come out and play so hard Monday night. It was an unforgettable experience.”

Amanda Foley, who teaches nutrition and food science at Monroe Area High School, was there with the Redcoats as their flagline coordinator, a title she’s held since 2017. This was her second trip to the national title game with the Redcoats, but she far preferred the outcome this time around.

“2017 was just a dream,” Foley said. “We never expected that season to happen that way or to get to where we did. When we lost the championship, it was just devastating.”

This season, she said, felt much different.

“We knew this team was special,” Foley said. “It was wild.”

Foley had tried to keep her expectations in check going into the game.

“As a true Georgia fan basically my entire life, I went into the game trying not to get too excited or get my hopes up too much,” Foley said. 

“I tend to try and distract myself with work, since I have the flagline to oversee. But it was phenomenal. It was the most exciting event I’ve been to in my entire life.”

She said she truly started to get excited in the fourth quarter, but kept her hopes in check until Ringo’s interception essentially sealed the win.

“Everyone was losing their minds,” Foley said. “My girls were crying even as they kept trying to do their routines in the stands to ‘Glory.’ We were all screaming so loud. I was hoarse for the next two days.”

She said she’s still coming down from the adrenaline high, and the party isn’t even over for her and the band, as they’ll be performing Saturday at the UGA parade and celebration for the historic championship win.

“It’s the best thing I’ve ever been to, ever,” Foley said.

It’s hard to look past the celebration, but the offseason looms, giving everyone time to prepare for the fall and a new season as defending national champs.

Stone said he hoped to see more success for the Bulldogs.

“I’m really excited for next year,” Stone said. “I can’t wait to see what the team can do next.”