I’m actually still trying to put into words the way I feel right now. The Ohio State University just won the National Championship game! Today may possibly be one of the greatest days of my life. But before I get to the game, let me back up a little bit and catch you all up on what we’ve been doing in Dallas!
Sunday morning we started with a little tradition the Nationals team calls “the candle.” We usually have our candle time right after practice, but with the crazy Dallas schedule we decided to wait until morning. We typically watch tape from that day’s practice, and then Coach Ben lights our red candle and passes it around the room. Each person uses this time to reflect on the day, the team or just share his/her thoughts. I love this because no matter what type of practice we had, we never end on a sour note. Sunday, a lot of people spoke on the confidence they have in the team and our ability to make quick adjustments during skills. We’ve been focusing on the fact that perfection might not always be attainable, however, if you work toward perfection you will land among excellence. To close, coach Sio shared, “Greatness is a lot of small things done well, day after day.”
Next up we attended two functions with a couple thousand of our closest Buckeye friends. Did I mention we had police escorts everywhere we went? Pretty cool! Each building we went into was packed! Buckeye Bash is always one of the biggest events Ohio State puts on for game day, and this one was one of a kind. One of my favorite things about being so close to the fans is watching the way their faces light up during our school’s Alma Mater, Carmen Ohio. Carmen Ohio is played after every game (win or lose), after every event, performance and school activity. My body is covered with goosebumps by the end of the song and I’m usually holding back tears. You can see it in everyone’s eyes as you scan the crowd; it truly hits the heart of every Buckeye! Whenever we sing I feel an instant connection with alumni and fans I’ve never met. I think that’s one of the most heartwarming parts of Buckeye Nation.
Later that evening we went to a huge entertainment center called the Main Event with our band and the Oregon band and cheerleaders. We felt like kids again when we received unlimited gaming cards and spent a few hours bowling and playing laser tag! It felt like Christmas Eve lying in our hotel beds that night; the excitement of the game was definitely setting in.
Monday started off bright and early as half of the squad departed the hotel at 4:30 a.m. for Good Morning America. The mascots participated in a friendly little competition and Jimmy Kimmel was even there! In the afternoon we received a surprise from Nike – free gear! I’m definitely thankful for that; everything is so cute.
Later we packed up and headed to the stadium. History was about to be made! Before the game we stopped by two huge pep rallies with the band. Standing on stage, looking out to a sea of scarlet and gray will forever give me chills. The entire team was starstruck when we entered our locker room before the game – the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders’ locker room to be exact. They even had two of the cheerleaders waiting to meet us! I’m not sure who was more excited, the girls or guys. It’s safe to say we all felt a little famous as we touched up our hair and makeup at our personal lighted vanity stations.
The first time stepping onto the field nearly took my breath away. Ohio State’s stadium is huge, but I’ve never seen a football field as grand as this one. Above the field were four huge screens. To give you an idea, two were rumored to be the size of a basketball court! I don’t think at the time it really set in that this was the biggest football game of the year and we were lucky enough to experience it from the sidelines. The first quarter felt like an eternity, but the second and third flew by in the blink of an eye. Every so often I just stopped to look around; it’s a surreal moment to think to yourself that you’re currently living one of the most memorable days of your life.
The football team and our fans were on fire. As the final seconds passed, the stadium erupted. We won the National Championship game! Cameras flashed all around us and the video cameras never stopped rolling. I practically jumped into my partner’s arms before we ran onto the field. The team held up the trophy they worked so hard for and Buckeye Nation came together once again for Carmen Ohio. Sometimes, what makes a moment truly great is the people you share it with. I’m lucky enough to share these once in a life time moments with my teammates and some of my greatest friends.
The road to the National Championship, like the road to UCA College Nationals, is definitely not an easy path. But you know what they say, “It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.”
I’m sad to leave Dallas, but I know we are all heading home with memories that we’ll cherish forever. This has truly been the game of a lifetime!