[Thanks for telling the story, Zherog. Front paged. - Scott]
As a season ticket holder, I had a chance to bid on a spectacular opportunity for my daughter - the chance to be a player escort with a Union player during last week's match against D.C. After talking it over with her, and explaining what we would be missing out on by spending points, I made the decision to go "all in" on the auction. Between my two seats, I had a tad over 1500 points; so I bid everything.This is the last year she's age eligible, so I wanted to be sure we would win.
She was so excited when the call came! The only real issue was that we had to be down at the stadium by 6:30 - a full 90 minutes before kick off. I travel the turnpike to get to and from work, and then we have to hike down I-95 to get to Chester from Bucks County. Lots of opportunity for traffic jams. Thankfully, even a broken down Greyhound bus near the stadium complex couldn't delay us. What we learned is that being a player escort is a whole lot of "hurry up and wait."
We arrived at the Supporter's Gate about 6:25, and right about 6:35 or so folks from the Union showed up to get us checked in and collect waiver forms. Yep, they made me sign a waiver. We went in, and headed for the locker room set up for the kids - the escorts as well as the ball kids. The Union do an absolutely fantastic job with this. The kids all had a locker with their name above it, a full kit hanging there waiting for them. Everybody rushed to get changed, heading off to the bathrooms for a bit of privacy. That took all of about 5 minutes, and then it was more waiting.
About 7:45, they lined all the kids up and talked about the rules - no asking for autographs, but you can talk. Don't be upset if a player doesn't want to talk too much, though. Once you're in your place in line, there's no "trading" to get a different player - you get who you get. At that point, a Union employee escorted all the parents out. This is also really cool - we got to stand field side during everything. They even let us slide out from behind the boards and onto the grass to get better pictures. (Too bad my batteries died. Gah!)
She looked so serious coming out. So did most of the other kids. I really would've loved to stay right where we were to watch the game! What a view down at field level!
After the National anthem, they herd everybody back into the locker room. Everybody gathers their stuff, and then it's a mad dash to get to our seats. We stopped to grab dinner - hot dogs, crab fries, and water. We were in our seats by the 5 minute mark. I have no doubt this is something my daughter will remember for a very long time!
And here's the experience in her words. She's no where near as verbose as her old man:
"At first I was really excited. But as it grew closer to time, I started getting nervous. When I was waiting in the tunnel I started shaking. The S.O.B. were really loud. They banged on the cover for the tunnel. Then they started playing that huge drum and I could feel my entire body, inside and out, shaking. I was excited again when the players started coming out of the locker room. I was really hoping to get either Jack Mac or Keon Daniel, but I made do with Gomez. I'm glad, too, because the announcers on T.V. were talking about Gomez so I got a whole lot of T.V. time! It was really cool to walk out onto the pitch with the Union players!"