On Road-tripping With Your Father

So, if you haven’t kept track of Georgia Tech’s football season (what? you don’t care about a mediocre collegiate football team?), the season ended in a disappointing fashion after a promising start. At the start of November, it looked like Tech football might win the ACC and visit the Orange Bowl for the first time since 1966. Well, the season didn’t play out that way. Instead Tech had a stomach-punching loss to their rival, the University of Georgia and then laid a big egg in the ACC Championship game against Wake Forest. I was so upset with Tech football that I wanted to be done with the season. I didn’t want to watch any more games, except there was one problem.

I had already ordered tickets for the bowl game.

In the middle of November, I didn’t think of all the possible ramifications of where Georgia Tech might play or who they might play, I just wanted to go to a bowl game. So, here I was, stuck with two tickets to a Gator Bowl that most Tech fans (including me) didn’t really want to go to and I had to make the best of it. Then I thought of it, I told Adriene, “I want to take my dad.”

As a child, I probably developed my love of sports from my grandfather, but it was my father that took me to my first Georgia Tech football game in 1984. I was a boy scout and I sat in the old wooden bleachers in the South Stands that have since been torn down. Georgia Tech cruised over an overmatched team from The Citadel to the tune of 48-3. It was then that I wanted to come back to this stadium and keep going to games for as long I could. As I grew up, we didn’t have cable at home so I savored every rare opportunity to watch Tech on network TV and for the games in between, there was always Al Ciraldo and Kim King on the radio. During the magical 1990 year, by happy coincidence Dad and I got to go to two games, a 44-9 rout of UT-Chattanooga, and we rode the train out to Athens to watch Tech cruise over The University 40-23. It’s not right for the train not to run to Athens anymore for football games, what’s so fun about sitting in traffic for three hours?

Anyhow, after all those great memories, I figured it was time to pay back my old man. Dad’s not a big sports fan, but he’s always enjoyed a big event, and he’s always humored me. So, we drove to Savannah to stay at with our gracious hosts, Adriene’s parents, and then the next day drove down to Jacksonville. Tech was playing West Virginia and was favored by a lot to win the game. I was determined to take my lumps and just have a fun time. We tailgated before the game with friends from my college days and I enjoyed introducing my father to some of the guys that I did time with at Tech. The Redneck Golf game even made an appearance! I didn’t know just how good my tickets were, but imagine my surprise when I found myself sitting on the 30 yard line about 30 rows up from the field! With access to the luxury concourse no less! Thank you, Young Alumni donations.

To my surprise, backup Quarterback Taylor Bennett played out of his mind. My dad and I were in disbelief as Tech went to halftime leading 28-17. I knew full well, though, against an offense like this, 28 points would not be enough. Tech scored another touchdown, but then the offense dried up and sure enough, West Virginia came back to win the game. As disappointing as the loss was, the game was exciting and my dad and I had a great time. For that matter, we had a great time for the whole weekend, from eating ribs in Savannah to trying, and failing, to visit the Mighty Eighth Museum. I arrived home exhausted from hours upon hours of driving down and driving back, but it was a good kind of exhausted, wrung out and happy.

I’m thankful for weekends like this. Not everyone gets to do a road trip with their father. Not to be morbid, but I found the movie Elizabethtown so moving, because I know so many people don’t get that chance. I count myself blessed, even if it’s travelling to watch my favorite football team lose.

Pictures of the Gator Bowl game!