Winnipeg Blue Bombers superfan Tina Antonation lives and breathes blue and gold.
“I get dressed in the morning and half of the time I don’t even know I put on a Bomber shirt,” Antonation told Global News. “People are like, ‘Did she do that on purpose?’ And I don’t even know. So we call that Bomber Woman incognito, because I think everything I own is Blue Bombers.”
Antonation has been been a Bomber fan for most of her life.
“They mean so much to me. It’s weird how you find something that you love and it just enters every part of your life,” she said.
“Everybody who knows me just through work, acquaintances, if you ask anybody who knows me, they’ll know that I’m a Bomber fan. Finding something you’re passionate about translates into so many parts of your life. It becomes a lifestyle, essentially.”
The superfan created the character ‘Blue Bomber Woman’ for the 2018 Banjo Bowl. But the concept stuck around.
“I got the idea to create a character. I said, ‘It’s not a costume, it’s a character, and she’s going to be superhero-themed and she’s going to be spectacular, unlike anything you’ve seen at a game,'” she said. “So I put her together and it just stuck after that game. It was supposed to be just for Banjo Bowl, but after that game… It was silly not to do it every single game.”
Antonation says the feedback she has received since has been overwhelming.
“It’s a different energy. I feel like she’s my alter ego, that I’m actually living very parallel with right now,” she said.
“Even when I travel for games, I get to the gate and people just know. It doesn’t matter what club or city they’re from, they know who she is.”
“I love to have fun. Outside of Bomber Woman, I just love to bring joy into people’s lives and making people happy and just have fun,” she added. “So if this is a way to elevate that and celebrate my team, that’s what I’ll do. Because this is really a celebration of the team and what they mean to me.”
The last game Antonation attended was the 2019 Grey Cup in Calgary. The kickoff to the 2021 season is something she has been waiting for since.
“I did not sleep. I’ve been crying since like yesterday, probably even before that. I was getting Grey Cup feels again — I remember not being able to sleep, not being able to eat. If someone said something to me I just started crying,” she laughed.
“I’m more excited now — my heart is beating out of my chest right now. I cannot wait to step into that energy, see the guys running out of the tunnel, see that banner being raised. I’m definitely going to need some Kleenex. But I’m so excited for this to happen; I’m excited for the team.
“The guys have waited so long for this, they’ve sacrificed so much, so I’m just really thrilled to get back to what they love.”
It’s a feeling being shared by many others.
“Especially after how the last season finished, I think all of us are starved to get back and celebrate that championship,” Bomber fan Jeff Palson told 680 CJOB.
“It’s been 620 days, I think, so we’ve been waiting long enough and really can’t wait to get back there.”
Palson is attending the game with his wife, two children, father and uncle.
“That’s one of the best parts for me is watching my kids follow the footsteps, and my dad before me, as gigantic fans of our local teams,” he said, adding he can’t wait to see the Grey Cup championship banner being raised.
“I can’t imagine the emotion that’s going to be permeating through the stadium as well,” Palson said.
“I’ll be surprised if I don’t (cry) myself.”