Mrs. Grooms: Clemson’s biggest fan

Published: Feb. 13, 2023 at 1:41 AM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - Rain or shine. Day or night. Win or lose. Paula Grooms has been there for Clemson men’s basketball like no one else.

It’s a tradition that started by chance and is now 15 years and counting.

The day before every Clemson road game, you’ll find Paula Grooms posted up on the tarmac at Anderson Airport in her Tigers gear.

“We saw the bus come up to the plane,” explained Grooms. “Players got out of the bus and onto the plane. Flew away. Did their battle. Came back. We came back to see them land, got on the bus and left. Nobody to welcome them or say good luck or it’ll be better next time, just no contact with a person. And it just broke my heart.”

The tradition was born.

“I just thought, somebody, needs to be there,” said Grooms. “And it just become my mission. We started doing it and we’ve done it for a long, long time.”

“It means the world to us, seeing Mrs. Grooms,” said Clemson grad student Hunter Tyson. “Rain or sunshine. It can be 3:00 a.m. in the morning, she’s going to be out there with a smile and a comforting hug.”

“I’ve been here 3:30 a.m. and sleet!” laughed Grooms. “So it doesn’t matter what time.”

Whether they’re the leading scorer, a freshman, the manager or a coach, Mrs. Grooms knows each of them.

“It’s so important because so many of the children are here from other countries or the other side of the country and don’t have family,” said Grooms. “I just want to be their grandmother. Their family. Somebody they can sit and talk with if they need it. So I enjoy just being there for them.”

Through the highs and the lows, Mrs. Grooms makes a difference.

“So much goes into these games that people don’t realize,” said Tyson. “We put so much work in and to go on a road trip and come back unsuccessful, it can be really tough. Like it can be really tough on everyone but like I said, she’s there with a comforting hug and some comforting words and it just means so much. It really does mean a lot.”

“I love greeting them when they come tumbling out of that plane all giggles and happy and winning. That’s a great joy. But if they lose, they seem to need it more,” said Grooms. “I’m glad I’m there for them. I don’t want them to come home losers and unhappy and get on that bus with nobody loving them no matter what.”

Her love, is important in those moments, leaving an impression they’ll carry on long past their days at Clemson.

“One thing I’ll take away from Mrs. Grooms, probably for the rest of my life, is just, show people that you love them,” said Tyson. “She shows the people she loves, her love and I think it really means a lot.”

Mrs. Grooms will also see them off from Littlejohn Coliseum when the team buses to a game. In 2019, the men’s basketball player’s lounge was named in honor of Paula and her husband Franklin.