It’s the top of the first inning, I look down the third base line and I think to myself, “this is what life is about.” As a hockey fan, I found my journey to the College World Series to be an enlightening experience. You see at a hockey game I am in my element. I know the teams, the players, and the game inside and out. But at a baseball game, I am free to turn the brain off and take in everything that the game has to offer. I can’t help but realize how my experience is a metaphor for life that is uniquely relative to high school and college students.
The Journey Begins
Sometimes the most nerve-racking part of an adventure is the beginning. The anticipation of what is to come, the excitement of the vision you have created. Baseball isn’t unfamiliar to me, and I have attended College World Series games before. This time though I was embarking on the adventure with some new friends. This was a chance for us to learn about each other and build friendships. A bit of a late start didn’t deter us and we set forth on adventures for the day.
Every mile of our journey to downtown Omaha brought a new level of excitement. My friends and I were discussing a variety of topics. One of those was the plan for this blog so I hope that Rob and Adam find themselves painted in the best light. I am grateful that they agreed to take this adventure with me and I could not have asked for better company while I did my “research” for this blog.
Taking in the Experience
Arriving at our destination meant we were ready to take in everything the day had to offer. So often we do the things we are used to doing and “go thru the motions” instead of lifting our eyes to see what the world has to offer. The fan areas were amazing places to meet new people and run into old friends. Had I not been aware of what was around me or too focused on a single aspect of the day I could have missed those opportunities.
We planned elements of chance into our day, which I found a pleasant reprieve. You see, I am the type of person that likes to plan. I like to have tickets in hand, know where to park, who to see, who to talk with, where to eat. Learning to let go was a great experience. We found tickets when we got down there, jumped from fan site to fan site since we had no allegiance to any one group. Walked around the stadium and talked to some random people. I wasn’t comfortable with some of this, but at the end of the day I was thankful for the experience and guidance of my friends.
I wasn’t in Rome but as a hockey fan in what can only be described as a different world I felt the call to follow the natives that surrounded me. It was a ton of fun to follow the directions of those who have been there before. I expected to enjoy an overcooked hot dog surrounded by a stale bun and covered in ketchup and mustard to make it tolerable. I was shocked to find lobster fries and OmaTots. What can only make my doctor cringe, OmaTots are puffed potatoes covered with smoked Gouda, sour cream, bacon, tomatoes, onions and, oh yeah, smoked brisket.
If the weather was an ACT test then this day was a 36. It wasn’t the typical hot June day. It was overcast most of the game but the sun made an appearance towards the end of the seventh inning. I found myself looking around the stadium and trying everything I could to remember the sights and sounds. The flash of light that came from the bat as it swung through the strike zone, the unique ping sound of the ball hitting the bat. I’ll never forget the cheering match between the two outfield sections that went on until the right field had the last word with “we can’t hear you” echoing through the stadium.
Time to Reflect
Arriving home after a long fun day is the time to look back at the journey. Taking a moment to stop and reminisce about the experience you just enjoyed is the best way I have found to solidify the memory. I will always look back fondly about sharing this day with Adam and Rob. We shared some meaningful conversations, enjoyed the sights and sounds of TD Ameritrade Park, and even planned for what could be our next adventure.
The years you spend in high school and college will likely be when the most opportunities are presented to you. While you will find trouble chasing every adventure, I encourage you to pause your studies every so often and experience something new and different. Something as simple as attending a sporting event you would not normally go see or maybe going on a short trip to place you have never been are great ways to build lasting friendships and memories you will cherish for years.