When you grow up as a member of a household completely bought into UK athletics, your first, any game at UK is a huge deal. Watching the Kentucky Wildcats for the first time becomes one of your favorite memories. Years later, you will be about to recall precise details. You never forget the sights, the sounds, or the dynamic nature of the crowd. My 7-year old son, Wes, experienced his first UK Football game Saturday night. We were fortunate to win the tickets to the game via @GOTCTickets, and I posted his reaction to finding out that we were going. To say he was ecstatic was an understatement. He hardly slept that night, and each morning he did a countdown to the game.
Saturday morning, Wes woke with a start. He yelled, “Today’s the day! Go Big Blue!” His jubilation was contagious. He had already picked out what he wanted to wear -a UK football jersey, of course. He talked non-stop and asked what seemed like a million questions. And thanks to my Twitter family and friends, I was able to answer most of them.
Our trip to Lexington was an entertaining one. Wes and I jammed to our favorite “game-day” music. We laughed, danced, and sang our way along those 170 miles. We sang songs like “Baby, Got Back!” and “Cut the Cord.” The miles flew by, and after a few hours, we hit the Versailles Road traffic. After a brief stop at a dear friend’s house, we were on our way to the field.
As we drove down Limestone, Wes’s mouth was gaped open. He made comments; he looked from one window to the next, and could barely keep seated. He was bubbling with excitement. The smile on this Mommy’s face was ear to ear. I was so happy to be able to re-experience those firsts with him.
After we parked, Wes and I began walking hand in hand to Kroger Field. We tried to navigate the many Wildcat fans, tailgates, and parking lots to find our friends. I wanted Wes to experience everything that time would allow. He walked by people wearing Kentucky Blue and gave them high fives. He yelled, “Go Cats!” He wanted to stop at every tailgate and play corn-hole. After finally turning on Cooper, he got his first look at the field and stood there for a minute drinking it all in. At that point, I teared up and was happy that it was a beautiful, sunny day and had my sunglasses on.
We made our way to our friends’ tailgate area. Music was blaring. The sun was shining. People were laughing. And the thing that mattered most, Wes was happy. We ate a bite and walked over to the Tailgate Tour area. Wes played a virtual reality game at the Coke stand. He would have stayed there until the game started, had he had the chance. Wes received a free hat from the Farm Bureau people. He got samples from various vendors. All the while, he was smiling.
We hung out at the tailgate for a little bit longer. Wes found some other young members of BBN, and he threw a football with them. He even had me throwing around the pigskin. (I told you, his excitement was contagious.) About an hour before the game, I asked him if he was ready to go into the stadium. We collected several pom-poms at the gates and then made our way to our seats. He stopped to watch the players come into the stadium. He clapped and yelled.
When we finally got to our seats, he stood on the bleachers, hands over his head “Rocky Balboa style,” and yelled, “Best day ever!” (Maybe Mommy had another tear or two).
I don’t have to remind anyone specifics of the actual game. We were kicking tail and taking names, and the sold-out crowd was crazy electric. Wes wanted to be on TV and was trying his best to get noticed by the video guys. He danced. Wes entertained our section. He was giving high-fives. He was waving his pom-poms. He booed the Gamecocks. He ate popcorn and nachos. He was living his best life.
As we began our descent from our seats, Wes said, while holding my hand, “Mommy, this really was the best day ever.” And with that, the waterworks flowed. I am so lucky to have such a fun, happy UK loving little boy. We walked out of Kroger Field with smiles on our face. He turned around and took one last long look at the stadium, and we made our way to the car. He was out before we reached the Bluegrass Parkway. He most certainly did have his “best day ever,” and I am so glad that I was able to experience it with him. Thank you to all of those that helped make that day possible.