Daughter’s Labor Day request: Let’s go to Tennessee to see a Volunteers’ game

By Doug Halberstadt
Sports Columnist

Area high school football teams kick off their 2010 season this Friday night. I urge everyone to try to get out and support one of many teams in our region that will be taking to the gridirons each and every week for the next 10 weeks or so.

The college football season will begin the following week. Much to my delight, I plan on making a Labor Day weekend trip to Knoxville, Tenn. My 9-year-old daughter Meredith and I will be among the 100,000 or so people clad in orange and white to welcome in the 2010 University of Tennessee football season.

The way in which those plans came to fruition is the real story here that I would like to share. While at dinner one night last week, I suggested to Meredith that we take a little trip over Labor Day. I brought up a ride out to Mt. Rushmore, or down to Branson, Mo. With no provocation or hints from me whatsoever, she declined those offers and advanced her own destination suggestion: “Dad, let’s go to Tennessee. I want to see a Vols game.”

You could have knocked me over with a feather. At that precise moment, I was in proud dad football heaven.

I told her I didn’t even know if they had a home game that weekend. She said, “Let’s go online and look when we get home.” I could not believe her enthusiasm.

After checking the UT athletics website, we found out they indeed are at home for their opening weekend. I immediately booked a hotel room and then brought up a version of “Rocky Top” (the Vols’ theme song).

I told her the Pride of the Southland Marching Band would be playing that song as they made their way past the throngs of awaiting fans and into the stadium that evening. We plan on being in the front row right on Peyton Manning Pass (the street named after the former UT quarterback) when the band passes.

The trip from Rockford to Knoxville takes about 10 to 11 hours. I’ve made the trip many times. Never will it be as sweet as this time. Taking my daughter to see her first-ever college football game will make those hours fly by.

We plan on breaking it up into two segments, part of the way on Friday night and then stop and check into a motel. We’ll get up and get back on the road early enough to get into Knoxville by noon or so. Kickoff is at 6 p.m. That should allow us plenty of time to soak in the color and pageantry that accompanies a major college football game.

Can you tell I’m excited? Great idea, Meredith! We’ll get to Mt. Rushmore next year.

From the Aug. 25-31, 2010 issue

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