Tuesday, November 16, 2010

When Love and Football Collide

I normally try to keep my posts here and my posts on my football blog separate. The two don’t intersect too often

This past weekend was the exception.

Having turned my kids into Auburn fans, I need to take them to an Auburn game when the chance arises. On this most recent Saturday, it did. The boys were excited. It was their first time to attend a game since the contest against Washington State in 2006.

They weren’t disappointed.

Neither was I

We arrived in Auburn on a Friday evening and headed to the massive tailgate across from the art museum. My cousin Katherine had an RV set up amongst the sea of RVs near campus and planned to hang out there for the weekend with her son and some good friends. We gorged ourselves on hot dogs and chips before calling it, heading out to my cousin’s place where we spent the night. It took awhile for my kids to finally relax. (My cousin has a pool table. There was no way they weren’t going to play a couple of games.) Finally, they nodded off to sleep and allowed my wife and me to do the same.

As Saturday unfolded, I admit I had more on my mind than just the game. (There’s the scandal involving Auburn’s QB that has kept my attention.) However, none of it came close to just being able to watch a game with my boys. We headed to the tailgate where my wife would spend the afternoon with my cousin and her friends. (My cousin had no plans to attend the game. She just likes tailgating.) And when kickoff became two and a half hours away, I knew it was time for the boys and I to go.

Now I know that sounds like a long time. We were only a thirty minute walk from the stadium at best. But, it’s one thing to go to a game. It’s another to soak in the atmosphere.

One particular tradition I wanted to share with my boys was Tiger Walk. Approximately two hours prior to the game, the football team walks from the athletic dorm to the stadium. The cheerleaders are there. A subset of the band is there. And thousands of fans line the path. My younger son in particular wanted to see two people: Aubie (the Auburn mascot) and Cam Newton.

He got to do both. As the picture below shows, he got to meet Aubie.

And, as the players walked through the crowd, he low-fived Cam Newton, the man whose smile will one day grace toothpaste commercials on all the networks.

From there, we headed to Toomer’s Drugs for lemonade, another Auburn tradition. Though a souvenir shop now, it was a pharmacy for many years. Inside the place, I took them to the back of the store and showed them the picture on the wall of their great-great uncle, Mac Lipscomb, who bought the business from Mr. Toomer himself and ran it for decades before retiring.

And then we went to the game.
When it comes to college football, the only thing better than watching a big game is watching it with your children. To enjoy their fascination as the eagle flies out and lands at mid-field, to enjoy their anticipation as the band takes the field, and then enjoy their amazement as jets do a flyover during the National Anthem.

“Dad, that was loud,” my son said.

“I could only smile back and agree.

With a victory, we celebrated and then headed back to the park to meet my wife and head home to Atlanta. For the second time in two nights, I tried to get the kids to get over their excitement and get some sleep. And for the second time in two nights, I failed miserably.

I know my kids won’t forget this trip.

Neither will I.


Keli Gwyn said...

How cool that you got to share the experience with your sons. I have a hunch they'll remember that day for years to come.

Walt M said...

Thanks. I won't forget it either.