It’s just your typical night: A college softball team from Alabama comes over to your house on a whim to sing karaoke with your 12-year-old daughter.
It all started two years ago, when the Chattahoochee Valley Community College softball team came to town on for an Aiken Tech-hosted tournament. What happened that weekend was a bit of an awesome fairy tale. That cool story is its own story, and you can read it here: www.mikegibbons.blogspot.com/2011/02/you-never-know-whos-looking.html.
The next year, prior to the team’s return, one of the players, Crystal, tracked us down and told us they were going to be back in town and wanted Allie to come watch. It made us feel special that they remembered us, as they had made an indelible mark on us. When she got to the ballfields, they gave her a jersey and a sweatshirt and just made her feel like a million bucks.
This year, we got the call again that they would be in town. Allie had a good time watching Friday, even spending some time in the dugout. They gave her a new jersey with the best number ever (No. 3, her favorite number, namely because that’s Dale Murphy’s number and she has heard since birth that No. 3 is the best jersey number to have). We joined them for dinner that night, and Allie sat with the team, feeling as far from 12 years old as she could.
We were prepared to go and watch them Saturday. And then the rains came. The deluge that met us Saturday morning made it clear there would probably be no softball. My wife and I had this conversation:
HER: Why don’t we have them over here?
HER: Come on, it’ll be fun.
My wife texted Crystal and invited the team over. I was doubtful a bunch of college kids would want to spend their rainy Saturday night in South Carolina at the house of some random family.
“They’ll be here about 5:30,” my wife told me. And now we know how to make Allie clean her room in minutes flat.
Sure enough, about that time, in rolled the bus. The team bus is one of those big touring buses that can carry roughly 8,000 people. I enjoyed watching it make a three-point turn in the cul-de-sac and then park in front of a neighbor’s house.
And out they poured. About 25 softball players came off the bus and headed to our house, all greeted by Allie who, I will have to admit, was a little awestruck.
My wife had made some snack-type things – chips and dips, cookies, etc. – and as they filed in, she directed them to grab some food and be comfortable. My daughter sat somewhat overwhelmed at the fact that an actual college softball team was in her house.
Allie mentioned that she had a karaoke machine upstairs. Apparently, those were the magic words.
Soon, our bonus room was filled with the CVCC team and my daughter, all of them bellowing out various songs together. I was not going to sing karaoke because (a) this was my daughter’s gig and (b) when I sing it sounds only slightly more pleasant than someone strangling a goose.
But the main reason was (a). And, in fact, it soon became fairly clear that it would be great if Dad could just go head on to any other room in the house, and, if he chose, another state. I can imagine what was in her head, “A college team is here, in my house, singing karaoke with me, and my dad is VIDEOING THIS!?!?”
I eventually went downstairs to hang out with their coach, much to Allie’s relief. For the rest of the night, we listened as the girls sang song after song, whooping and hollering and having a big ol’ time. I would occasionally sneak upstairs and catch a peek of my daughter, her permagrin smile stretched from ear to ear. This was the big time.
After a few hours, the party was wrapping up, and the girls began descending downstairs, heading to the bus to go to dinner. When they asked Allie if she wanted to go to dinner with them, I am fairly certain my daughter could have just floated out to the bus.
CVCC showed us something special when we first met them a few years ago. That magic continues to shine. Most of the players from the original team we met have moved on. But the new members of CVCC have taken that torch. Now, we feel like they’ve adopted Allie, and we’ve adopted them. As they were leaving, we told the coach they’ve always got a home here, and any time they come for a tournament, we hope they come visit. Based on my daughter’s reaction to the evening, I think she’s in solid agreement. As long as I stay in another room. Or another state.
Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken. A graduate of the University of Alabama, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.