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Billy Ferris won a new car from USF, but society remains in park

The 19-year-old freshman, isolated back home in Michigan, hasn’t driven the new vehicle he won in a promotion.
USF freshman Billy Ferris, a Michigan native, attended all or parts of 79 Bulls sports events during the past school year.
USF freshman Billy Ferris, a Michigan native, attended all or parts of 79 Bulls sports events during the past school year. [ USF Athletics ]
Published May 12, 2020

He’s riding out the pandemic with no ride. USF freshman Billy Ferris, back at his home in suburban Detroit, is a 19-year-old testament to the novel coronavirus’ cruel irony.

His indefatigable support of Bulls athletics earned him a new car, but the business advertising major won’t get a whiff of its new-vehicle smell for least another month.

Like thousands of his peers, he is self-isolating back home, rarely venturing far. The black 2007 Grand Prix he typically drives when back in Michigan broke down.

“It gives me something to look forward to,” said Ferris, who plans to return to Tampa in early June to move from his dorm to off-campus housing. “Not really much else going on in the world right now.”

Related: Hey 30-for-30, consider these USF story lines

Ferris, who says he attended at least a part of 79 Bulls sports events this past academic year, won a white 2020 Ford EcoSport SE by earning the most points in the HerdPerks 2019-20 Campaign.

More than 9,800 students downloaded the location-based HerdPerks app, earning points for every sports event to which they checked in. A standard 15 points were awarded per contest, though some were designated as double- and triple-point events.

Ferris earned 1,318 points.

He attended every home football game except the Nov. 23 home finale against Memphis, which he missed to travel with a buddy to the women’s soccer team’s NCAA Tournament match against Florida State in Tallahassee.

He also attended a men’s soccer conference tournament match in Orlando, a couple of volleyball matches, nearly every men’s and women’s home basketball game (except the ones held during the winter break) and “a decent number of baseball and softball games before they got shut down.”

“I would’ve gone to a lot of ‘em anyway,” said Ferris, who played water polo at Troy (Mich.) Athens High. “But (winning the car) was certainly in the back of my mind.”

He was awarded the grand prize remotely, in a Zoom call last week that included 12 Bulls head coaches, athletic director Michael Kelly and a representative from Parks Ford, which provided the vehicle.

“lt’s people like you that make our university great,” women’s tennis coach Cristina Moros told Ferris.

Ferris, who did not have his own vehicle on campus his freshman year, said he must pay the tax, tag and title for the car, as well as the insurance. For a ride with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of more than $25,000, he deems it an equitable tradeoff.

If only he could get near it, rub a finger across the shiny exterior, toy with the accessories. For now, Ferris must wait another month. Some might suggest he has agonized enough.

Dude sat through six home football games last year.

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