Saturday, November 15, 2014

That day we took Mason to Tiger Stadium for his first-ever college football game

On the eve of what might be a rather epic football Saturday . . . not for the Tigers or my Dawgs (I'm looking at you, Mississippi State) . . . I figured it was about time to talk about that day we took Mason to Tiger Stadium for his first-ever college football game.

I really wanted to take Mason to an LSU Baseball game last spring.  That didn't work out because by the time I had the bright idea, I couldn't find tickets.  So I told Seth this summer that I definitely wanted to take him to a football game.  I thought it would be a nice surprise and maybe a little treat for what I was hoping was going to be a very successful first semester of 4th grade (and, boy, was I right!).  We bought our tickets before the season even started.  I had several requirements.  I wanted the opponent to be an SEC team (but definitely NOT Alabama), I wanted the game to be later in the season so it might (or not) be a little cooler, I did not want to sit anywhere near the student section and I did not want to sit anywhere in the upper levels.

We discussed the Mississippi State game, but since it was a September game, I told Seth I'd rather wait until a little later in the season.  And knowing what we know now, I'm so glad we did not go to that game!  It wouldn't have been very much fun for either of my guys.  Since the Alabama game was not an option (because I knew the atmosphere would be a little too spirited for my 9 year old), that left Ole Miss and Kentucky as our choices.  I really don't even remember how we chose Kentucky over Ole Miss.  Maybe the tickets were cheaper?  I just know I'm so glad we did!  That Ole Miss game was a little too spirited, too, and quite a logistical nightmare given the implications of the outcome of the game and the presence of the ESPN GameDay crew.

I was so excited when our tickets arrived in the mail.  I promptly hid them, but I was so afraid Mason was going to find them.  I don't know why.  He never could've found them in a million years.  But anyway.  So then we had to decide how to tell him.  We actually kept the secret for over two months and didn't even tell him until the night before the game.  We went out to eat and then took the kids to Tiger Stadium to "see Mike the Tiger."  Mason had already figured out that something was up.  He's just so smart!  He even said he thought we were going to take him to the game.  I told him that in order to go to the game, we had to have tickets.  He asked me how to get tickets.  Seth told him that he didn't know if any tickets were left for the game or not.  This conversation occurred before supper.  So once we got to the stadium, I brought it up again.  I told Mason that the only way he could go to the game was if he had a ticket.  And then I handed him three tickets.
Our pastor and his wife are game marshals.  They tailgate before every home game and invited us to tailgate with them.  So we did.
After we ate lunch, we headed over to the stadium.  It was a night game, and we still had a few hours to kill.  We walked around to the basketball practice facility to see the statue of Shaquille O'Neill.  Seriously . . . how did I not know about this statue?!  We had NO IDEA this was there.  Of course, it's way off the beaten path, and you have to be very intentional about walking around the back of the building to see it, but still.  It's super impressive.
And Jenn (because I know you're reading this) . . . one of the first things Mason said when we saw this was, "Mom, we HAVE to bring Carter here when they come back to Louisiana!  He will love this!"

And then Mason spotted his future truck.  Right. 
And he met Mike the Tiger.
We then found us a nice spot to sit and wait for the players and band to walk down Victory Hill.  And we sat in this nice spot for over two hours!  I was so proud of Mason.  He didn't complain one bit.  We told him that if he wanted to see everybody "up close and personal," we had to stay here so we wouldn't lose our spot.  Our Pastor's daughter and her husband bought a program for Mason since it was his first game.  So sweet and thoughtful of them!  He sat and basically memorized every page and every detail about every player while we waited.
Oh.  And in case you're wondering . . . it was HOT.

Finally the Tigers made their way down Victory Hill.  Coach Les Miles.  The one thing I can say about him is every time I see him, every time I hear him talk, he makes me laugh.  That's not a bad thing.  May not be a good thing sometimes.  Just saying.
And then Mason thought he was the top Dawg on campus as he got a high five from all the players as they walked by.  I have to admit . . . all I really wanted was for him to wash his hands!  Oh, and don't ask me who these guys are.  Because I have no idea.  I just know they're on the team!

And then the cheerleaders came out and did their thing.

Mingle!  Time to mingle . . . 
This was the cheerleaders' reaction when Mason told them he was going to play baseball for LSU one day.  Yes.
Mike the Tiger.  Again.  He gets around.
And then the Golden Band from Tiger Land marched down the hill.
And who knew the Golden Girls wear fishnet stockings?!  Well, I didn't!  I know you can't tell here.  But they were wearing fishnets!  I really don't know why that is important (it's not) or what it means (nothing).

Thanks to our Pastor, we were able to go into the PMAC (the basketball arena) for a pep rally.  I was just glad to sit in air conditioning for a bit!
And then we headed into the stadium.
You can't tell from these pictures, but the sunset was beautiful that night.
I've been to several LSU games through the years, but I guess I'd forgotten about all the pre-game pageantry and hype.  The announcer gives the weather stats and then says, "Chance of rain?"  And the crowd yells, "NEVER!"  Tradition has it that it "never" rains in Tiger Stadium.  They also blare Garth Brooks singing "Callin' Baton Rouge."

I spent last night in the arms of a girl in . . .
and the whole stadium stands and yells, LOUISIANA!

I guess when you're at a football game for a team that just isn't your own, it's funny sometimes.  Anyway.

Oh, and I also have to say that this was the mildest Tiger Stadium / Death Valley atmosphere that I've ever experienced!  Usually the atmosphere is intense.  But not this night.  I guess because it was Kentucky.  We didn't see any Kentucky fans until we were walking into the stadium.  That also meant that Mason missed out on the raucous taunts of "Tiger bait!  Tiger bait!" as fans of the opponent milled about the stadium before the game.  Seth lamented that he didn't have that experience.  It didn't bother me at all!  That's the one thing I can definitely do without!

Okay.  So we really were at the game.

This kid loved every minute of it!  He ate peanuts and hollered and jumped around.  He didn't want to leave, even late in the 4th quarter when LSU was blowing them out.  I honestly don't even remember what the score was.  I guess I should look that up.

Oh yeah.  LSU won 41-3.  And this is where we differ.  Seth loves to watch blow-outs.  I, on the other hand, think they are incredibly boring.  I really enjoy close games (as long as MY team wins!).  I just think they're so much more exciting.

So by the 4th quarter, I was ready to go.  It was late, and we'd been there all. day.  Besides, the stadium was already clearing out.  Most folks had already left.  So we finally convinced Mason it was okay to leave with five minutes left in the 4th quarter.
And, yes, I wore my LSU shirt to the game.  The last game Seth and I went to was the LSU-Florida game in 2011.  LSU was ranked #1 at the time, and it was a big game.  I bought a shirt for that one.  So I pulled it out of the bottom of my drawer and wore it for only the second time at this game.

And just to prove Momma can't take a selfie, here we are.  Mason is clearly not excited.  At all.   

1 comment:

Jennifer Hawkins said...

Carter will be very jealous! He has been after us to see a Georgia game for years! And I hope he doesn't expect a tailgate party and a tour!! He can ask his COUSIN Julie to come take him and do all that. Lol! Looks like Mason had the best day of his life. :)