OWENSBORO, Ky. (10/25/13) - For anyone, who has ever played or wanted to participate in sports, their dream was to one day play for an elite college. While in high school, I decided I wanted to attend the University of Louisville, but I knew playing football or baseball there was not going to happen, However as senior year entered Christmas break, I received a letter that most seniors pray for: an acceptance letter.
In the fall of 2008, I became a student of UofL. As an avid sports fan, I obviously got season tickets to both football and basketball. I loved the fact that I was able to walk with and talk to student athletes that I so admired on the field of play. On campus, those five star athletes and Heisman hopefuls were students just like me. As a fan, you always want to have the best seats in the house, but, all I ever wanted to do was get on the field to watch the game.
Fast forward to present day and I have graduated from UofL and I am working as a sports reporter for SurfKY News in Owensboro. One of the great things about being a reporter in sports is that I get a press pass. The pass allows me to get onto to the field and take some photographs.
One day, my wife and I decided we would make a return trip to watch the Cardinal football team play Central Florida. Then, I had an idea. What if I could contact the University and ask permission to get on the field? After a week and a couple of phone calls I was able to talk to someone in the office with the authority to grant my wish. That person did just that. He had no idea what one emailed meant to this alum.
The excitement of driving from Owensboro to Louisville was almost too much. The trip seemed like it lasted way longer than an hour and half. Nevertheless, my wife and I arrived in Louisville just in time to meet up with her family and drive to the game. Once we got there, she left with her family and I went to the gate to claim my press pass. There is something special about being stopped by security and letting them know you belong. Little did they know I was hoping and praying I wouldn't do anything that would make them change their minds.
Then it was time to walk on the field. The players were already warming up, the linemen were doing their last minute hand drills, receivers were running routes, and the quarterbacks were warming up their arms. This was it. This is what I had in mind weeks ago when I made the initial phone call to the office.
I loved it; I loved the feeling of anticipating from the players and confident nerves going through the fans. I watched as the fans piled into Papa John's Cardinal Stadium and the clock ticked away. When the players disappeared back into their locker room, I knew it was about to be game time. UofL's band did their usual great performance and then everyone's attention shifted towards the Johnny Unitas statue at the north-end of the end zone.
Once "O Fortuna" started playing and the smoke began rolling, it was time. The players rushed onto the field and the crowd became deafening. It was what college football was all about; it was why I loved the University of Louisville.
The game was filled with momentous swings by both teams. By the middle of the third quarter, it seemed Louisville was going to run away with the victory. Slowly, Central Florida moved the ball down field and score. The Cards scored late in the fourth quarter and regained the lead. The Knights would make one last drive down the field to score with less than a minute to play and would crush Louisville's dreams for an undefeated season.
The craziest experience from the game was how unbelievably loud over 55,000 people could be at one time. Then, at the same time, how silent those people can be after a heart breaking loss. As I watched Teddy Bridgewater's Hail Mary pass fall literally at my feet in the end zone, I realized the game was over and we lost. I turned and headed for the closest exit possible and rushed to beat the traffic.
While it was difficult watching UofL take the loss, I still enjoyed every second that I was on that field. I enjoyed watching the Cardinal players' battle and I loved hearing the chants from the crowd.
It was something I have always wanted to be a part of. I want to thank the University of Louisville for giving me an opportunity and helping one grad's dream come true.
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