I’m assuming you’ve found this post sometime in the distant future… maybe using Google’s new quantum search engine that searches the past in real time. Perhaps you’re on the eve of taking your 8 year old son or daughter to their first game. I hope so. I hope I’m there to go with you.
Mom and I wanted to wait thought we should wait to take you until you were old enough to appreciate the experience and not be overwhelmed. As you now know, an OSU football game in the Shoe can be exciting, roaring loud and an event to remember.
I was able to get tickets from a friend at work. They belonged to a member of the faculty she knew (one of the soccer coaches). It was OSU vs Ohio University (OU) and we sat in section 25A just above the southern end zone. I told you the Thursday before the game by giving you a red OSU hat (matching my own new one) and had you read the tickets. The smile spread quickly across your face and you punched the air with excitement. You were doubly excited because your best friend Zach was also going (his first game, too). It was a coincidence (all the best experiences start that way) and we actually ended up carpooling with him and his dad Steve.
The weather was perfect. It rained the day before so the temperature was in the high 70’s and it was partly cloudy. We got an early start to the day so we could go to a tailgate party a friend’s of Steve’s invited us all to. I don’t think you noticed as you and Zach were watching SpongeBob in the back of the van, but I was hit with a bit of stress. Steve asked me what our tickets looked like when it hit me that I forgot them. I mean I completely forgot them. Usually, I am so anal about these things that I would have put them in my wallet the night before, but they never entered my mind. Your mom was so great when I called. She gladly got your brother out of bed, jumped in the van with him and Maggie (Lauren spent the night at Grandma’s) and, battling game day traffic, dropped them off to us at the tailgate party.
After you and Zach devoured frosted cookies and a couple cans of Coke, we headed to the skull session for The Best Damn Band In The Land (TBDBITL – The OSU Marching Band) in St. John Arena. I think you were impressed and a bit in awe of all the people and the skill and coordination of the band. Besides TBDBITL, the OU band, a high school band from Springfield, OH and one from the Ohio State School for the Blind played. They were all really good.
As we walked across the street to the Shoe, you spotted the cheerleaders performing to a small crowd and laughed out loud at a small boy with a scarlet and gray wig. Before the main entrance, I bought you a program and each of us buckeye seat cushions (your’s red, mine white). When we got into the stadium, we sat down against a wall and ate some Donatos pizza (cheese for you, pep for me). Steve and Zach went up to their seats, we grabbed some skittles and headed to ours.
Your first comment to me was “I thought the field would be bigger”. I think the stadium dwarfed it for you. There was a good crowd around us in the sea of scarlet and gray… 6 or so guys from OU, a young couple from OSU, a couple of older season pass holders, etc. The OU guys started getting a little profane, but when they saw you, they actually commented that they needed to tone down the language. It gave me a new respect for this next generation coming along.
Throughout the game, you went back and forth between watching the game in front of you and live/replays on the big score board overhead. As the crowds stood, you’d jump onto your seat. The young couple on your right gave you high-5’s on every good play. You’d smile shyly but as the game progressed you became more and more confident. Every time the crowd started a cheer, you’d throw your arms up in the O H I O as required, with passion. During the half-time game, TBDBITL did a tribute to the movie Top Gun and when they marched into the formation of a jet fighter with actual smoke shooting out of the back, you exclaimed “SWEET!”
The game itself wasn’t a great one for OSU. We won 26-14, but trailed the first half while expected to really beat OU with little challenge. The last quarter was a great comeback.
We met up with Zach and Steve outside the stadium and as you walked next to Zach, seat cushion tight in your arm, hat down on your brow, chattering about the perfection of “our” team, I knew a Buckeye was born.
I don’t know if you will remember this day, but it is one of those I will hold tightly to. This was a day for a son and father and I am so grateful to have spent it with you.