ATLANTA (WXIA) — A super fan of the University of Georgia always said the year he died was the year UGA would win a national championship.
After his recent passing, his friends and family are making sure his presence is felt during Monday’s game.
Chip Prengaman’s story starts like many: raised in Georgia, went to Georgia, wore bulldog red everywhere but his wedding.
He and his wife Pam had season tickets and traveled to games. When they had kids, Chip indoctrinated them to the fandom.
“When I was like 10 or 11, a Georgia game was on,” says Kathleen, Chip’s daughter, “He comes out, and he’s got tears in his eyes.”
That’s when she realized just how meaningful the game was for her father.
Chip started coaching football at a Gwinnett County high school, living out his dream. But 18 years ago, a round of back surgery left him unable to teach and coach anymore.
The pain in his back often kept Chip in bed, but that’s also where he found refuge in the red and black.
“That was why Georgia football was so important to him. He couldn’t coach the sport anymore, but he could be a part of it through his alma mater,” explains Kathleen.
This past March, Chip had a heart attack. He died at 59.
In his honor, the family arranged a funeral, visitation – and a tailgate. They requested guests to wear Bulldog colors.
And then, the Bulldogs started winning, and kept winning,
“Watching games, it’s like, ‘Why are you not here, Chip? Why are you not enjoying this?’” says Pam, “But a lot of people kept saying, ‘But he is there. He knows what’s happening.'”
According to Pam, Chip always knew the Dawgs would gain momentum.
“He said the year that he died, that Georgia would win the national championship just to make him mad.”
Now, the Bulldogs are one win from a title. And Chip’s wife and daughter believe their top Dawg will be in Atlanta Monday night – and in Athens forever.
“One of the things he always said was, ‘When you die and you go to heaven, you go to Athens,” said Pam.
She knows he’ll be watching over the game tonight with pride.