Florida is playing in the Austin region of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament this year.
Mike jumped all over getting us tickets!
We had an early family dinner – grilled kabobs, baked potatoes, fresh bread…yummy! Then we packed up snacks and tablets to entertain the kids, put on our very best orange and blue outfits, and headed down to Austin to catch Florida’s opening game against some directional school from Louisiana (Northwestern State?).
First awesome thing: best family pictures EVER!
Had a friendly Gator snap these for us while we were waiting to be let into the Erwin Center for the game. The previous game ran a bit long. So we ended up WAITING and WAITING. And it was kind of warm, and the kids were bored. This is what they looked like during the 20 minutes we stood in line waiting to get in:
But once we got in, things picked right up! the kids thought the arena was pretty cool, and of course Lawson had a million questions. So many, in fact, that after about 20 minutes I made Mike switch seats with me so that HE was next to the boy. (“why are they wearing that color uniform? Is that what all the Gators look like? Do they hang on that hoop? Hey mama, watch me drink my coke! did you see that? did you? MAMA DID YOU SEE THAT?”)
We had really great seats, nice and low. Unfortunately the Gators were at the other end of the court. At half time we ran all the way around the arena to find Albert so we could get pics of the kids with him. But just as we got there, he disappeared. We were bummed. We ran into a young couple (also Gators) who were sitting in the row ahead of us who had done the very same thing! they were equally disappointed, we commiserated for a bit on the rotten luck of missing Albert, then did a Gator chomp together and parted ways
Anyhow, back at our seats during the second half, Piper put on her headphones to listen to Taylor Swift and Lawson busted out my Kindle to play a roller coaster game he’s a bit obsessed with right now. Then, just out of the blue during a commercial break, I look up at the screen and see Mike and the kids up on the big screen at the center of the arena! I shouted to them, got their attention, and then they smiled and had their “oh my gosh I’m on TV moment” in front of about 10,000 people. It was super cool. Piper couldn’t stop smiling about it for the rest of the game. She thought that was just about the coolest thing ever.
With about 5 minutes left in the game, we packed up and once again made the trek across the arena to find Albert. We scoped out the best gate to enter to get down to his location and thankfully found a few seats to crash in for the final minutes of the game. About 2 minutes after we sat down, Mike looks over at me, points two rows immediately ahead of us, and says “there’s Major”. As in former UT quarterback/son of my mother’s cousin Major Applewhite. And sitting right next to him is a guy I work with. It was the craziest, most random thing to happen in a long time. Of all the seats to drop into? Anyhow, we said hello and watched the seconds tick off the clock to end the game (GATORS WIN!). Then we managed to flag down Albert and get some cute shots of the kids. It’s a very proud moment in the life of every Gator parent when you get a picture of your kids with Albert for the first time, let me tell you! (I think Piper was a bit star-struck, don’t you?)
As we made our way out of the arena to the exit doors, we once again ran into the young Gator couple from half time. We said “Albert’s over by gate 23!” and they said “that’s where we’re headed now! And we saw you guys on TV!” which totally made the kids feel like rock stars.
Like I said – it was the best. night. ever. In the car on the way home, Lawson said “Daddy, that wasn’t boring at all! Not like football!”. Even Piper agreed that it was an awesome night (in between phone calls to her girlfriends to tell them about her big screen moment at the game, lol!) Here are the rest of my favorite pics from tonight:
Thanks for an awesome night, daddy we love you!