I was delighted to find out that while we were in Kansas there was a home football game! These Friday nights were the fall event around our parts growing up, so I was super excited to share it with Mitchell! We caught a Camp Lejeune Devil Pup football game here on base last year, which made for a fun night when we were feeling lonely without Daddy. It wasn’t quite the same though as our hometown Friday night lights. I’m a firm believer in supporting our local sports teams, but sadly we missed their (completely defeated) season this year. Darn. I bet they might have snuck in a ‘W’ if they had our cute little cheerleaders to cheer them on! But football season is still in full swing in my hometown, so making this game was a must. It was amazing to step back in my hometown and feel completely at home. I can’t go to Wal-Mart without seeing someone I know, and this game was no different – even after all these years away! We got hugs from the police officers at the front gate, grabbed tickets at the ticket booth from a family friend, said a long overdue hello to the paramedic working the “just in case” shift at the game (it’d been forever!!!), and walked into this sight. Beautiful. Just in time to snag a seat in the bleachers and see a little three year old I used to babysit get called onto the field for his senior football game. The cheerleaders and dance team, including our favorite dancer (another girl I babysat and met on her first day of kindergarten) were lined up ready to cheer on the team! Y’all, that’s the definition of a hometown to me. It felt like I never left. After my mom parked her truck and found us in the bleachers, she knew the three families sitting all around us. If that’s not a welcome back feeling, I don’t know what is.
Mitchell was mesmerized when we took our seats, shouting “foof-fall!” Julia was in it for the snacks, but was surprisingly attentive for the start of the game! I was more proud than anything of Mitchell standing tall, completely still, with his hand on his heart, staring at the flag for the entire national anthem. The crowd roared when it was over, and I gave him a big proud hug. He doesn’t know what it means for me to see him treat something his daddy fights so hard with so much respect, especially when he doesn’t quite understand it yet.
We watched the sun set over this beautiful field, which was a whole lot prettier than I remember it when I was running circles around it on the seventh grade track team. Why I thought I was a runner for two years, I’ll never know. The home team bleachers filled up and the stadium got loud!
The kids were thoroughly entertained by popcorn, but I really should have gotten three boxes instead of one. Once the popcorn stopped flowing, Julia lost interest.
Once halftime rolled around, I knew we were about done. Grandma Brim finally found us (she somehow lost her keys in the mix of delivering campaign signs and dropping me off like a high schooler, bummed a ride home from a friend at the game for a spare, only to find them in the truck a few days later, ha!). Luckily Mill Valley had the lead, and would end up winning even without their cutest little red-headed popcorn shoveling cheerleader.
It was fun to see one of our hometown friends perform in front of such a giant crowd. I give these girls (and their band!) credit for marching out on that field with such confidence and owning the place! Go Emmy!
And so I soaked up this view for the first time in a long time, and we headed out the gates wishing the Jaguars a winning second half. It was such a fun experience to get a little glimpse of my youth again – and see how delighted the kids were to be there for it! Thank you God for hometowns and traditions!