On most gamedays, the FedExField Gate A entrance is unlocked by guest services. Sunday, Jan. 2, though, was different. In the late morning, Erikka Resendiz, who was named Washington Football Fan of the Year, presented by Captain Morgan, earlier this season, released the lock and let the crowd enter into the stadium for the final Washington home game of the year.
"This isn't something I ever saw happening," Erikka said. "It's just an honor."
Standing at the stadium gates with her husband Josh and 1-year-old daughter Kerrigan (named after former Washington defensive end Ryan Kerrigan), Erikka was presented a symbolic key in a special ceremony featuring Washington co-CEO and co-Owner Tanya Snyder as well as team president Jason Wright. The key ceremony marked a moment to recognize a fan who is incredibly passionate about the Burgundy & Gold, and whose commitment to this team has stood out, and, at times, been tested, in some extraordinary circumstances.
With a glance at the circle of loved ones who gathered to watch the Sunday ceremony, the unique context behind Erikka's fandom emerged. Everyone who smiled and held up their phones to take pictures of Erikka wore green.
"The entire family is Philly fans except for Erikka and Josh," Erikka's stepmom Jen explained with a playful sigh. "But, we still love them."
Erikka was born into a family of Eagles fans and grew up outside of Philadelphia. In high school, she fell in love with Josh, a Washington fan, and soon, she too became a Washington fan.
"Loving Josh was easy and loving Josh meant loving the Washington Football Team," Erikka said. "His passion rubbed off on me, and over the years, they were no longer just his team; they were our team, my team."
Ever since her first game in 2016, FedExField has become a place where Erikka felt comfortable.
"Philly is home, but this feels like my home away from home, my second home," she explained. "I've just had such a connection with it."
That connection with this home away from home and the Washington Football family has only deepened with time. Erikka became a FAN ambassador, a role she commits hours of time for despite not living locally and being a new mom. She's brought together members of this community and rallied team support online.
Despite the ups and downs of wins and losses, of trades and name announcements, Erikka has found a sense of stability in this team and this fandom. Never was that stability – the fact that Washington football will be there to provide a sense of connection and a much-needed distraction – more important and more powerful than during the grief and trauma of Erikka's 2020 miscarriage and the pandemic.
"I had a difficult time grieving, and it [her fandom] helped me to focus my energy into other areas of my life," Resendiz said. "I used this team to help me look forward to better days."
Better days full of new memories, like this past Sunday – her daughter Kerrigan's first game at FedExField and a time for her family to come together, despite their football differences.
"It feels so nice to have her [Kerrigan] here and it's so special getting to share this with our family and have these two worlds come together," Erikka said.
Once the ceremony ended on Sunday, a group of green, wearing Ryan Kerrigan jerseys, gifted to them by Erikka and Josh at Christmas, assembled at the stadium entrance. At the center, stood Erikka -- the glue, the rivalry alleviator, the proud Burgundy & Gold fan.
"She's her own person so, for that reason, I'm proud of her. She went in her own direction," Erikka's dad and die-hard Eagles fan Joseph said, "And, it could have been worse, she could have been a Cowboys fan."