By Kyle Heck/Contributing writer
A 2004 graduate of the University of South Carolina, Luke Lorick awoke one night in October of 2012 and decided to follow his passion. So he got out of bed and created a Facebook page and never looked back.
Lorick's passion is tailgating, and his "Tailgating Challenge" Facebook page now has over 150,000 likes. There's also a Twitter account with more than 20,000 followers, a website, and companies that endorse the business from all over the country.
"I've always enjoyed the tailgating aspect of being with good friends, enjoying good food, enjoying some beverages and then getting to watch football," Lorick told Spurs & Feathers. "That's like the perfect day. You can be removed from the real world and the daily grind of all the things that are going on in your life and have a day of relaxation."
Lorick lived in Lexington most of his life before attending the university and graduating. Going to football games at Williams-Brice Stadium developed his love for tailgating, and it kept growing as he got older.
After graduating, Lorick started working at State Farm and was soon relocated to Atlanta. More than 13 years later, he now works in Texas, but his love for the Gamecocks — and tailgating — still lives strong. He started from scratch with "Tailgating Challenge," but as it continued to grow, Lorick began receiving products from companies around the country that wanted his professional opinion.
Currently, Lorick receives all kinds of cool tailgating gear to try out and then posts his reviews on his website and social media networks.
"I just did a fun segment with the most fun and unique coolers that you can get to keep your beer cold," Lorick said. "One of them is a giant Gamecock helmet that's a cooler, in addition to a remote-control cooler, a motorized riding cooler, a stereo cooler (and a) cooler that tells you how cold your drinks are. Just some fun stuff out there that I get to take a look at."
Last year, Lorick worked with the National Day Calendar to try and make National Tailgating Day a reality. The calendar receives thousands of ideas each year, but Lorick's was one of about 30 that was approved and the first National Tailgating Day was last year. It will continue to be recognized on the first Saturday of every September to coincide with the kickoff of college football.
"There's a national day for everything," Lorick said. "(But) there's no National Tailgating Day for something that so many millions of people do every fall. How can that be? It's something I'm looking forward to, and hopefully it continues to bring more recognition to the sport of tailgating."
Since he now lives in Texas, Lorick isn't able to go to nearly as many football games as he used to. But he is making the trek to Charlotte for the Gamecocks' season-opener against NC State Sept. 2 and the 2017 version of the National Tailgating Challenge.
"To say I'm excited would be an understatement," Lorick said. "You don't know what you're missing until it's gone. Any time I see anything Gamecock related in Texas I'm just so excited."
Growing up going to Gamecock football games, Lorick learned the art of tailgating early on. Just like any other school in the Southeast, pregame rituals are a must on any Saturday. So many people put so much into tailgating, and it's a family and friends affair.
Lorick said fans at Williams-Brice Stadium do tailgating "as good as anybody else" and he's now trying to pass those lessons on to others who are interested. For what started as a midnight idea, Lorick has created something big with Tailgating Challenge.
"I work on it every single day outside of my regular job," he said. "With that persistence and doing stuff, you can take something from nothing and make it into something. Not to say that it's the best or I'm quitting my day job any time soon, but it's just a fun thing to do and get out there.
"My heart is in Columbia, so one day it can bring me back there or get me more involved, whatever the case may be. That would be awesome, too."
For more information on Tailgating Challenge, visit tailgating-challenge.com or check out "Tailgating Challenge" on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.