Soon after we got to Lake Martin last week, I mentioned wanting to go to one of the Auburn basketball games. It happened that Auburn would be playing Kentucky, so we got excited and made plans. But apparently a lot of other people got excited as well (probably mostly Kentucky fans) and when I checked the ticket site on Saturday morning I found out the general tickets were all sold out.
Rain dashed our ideas of buying from scalpers so Albert and Linda generously gave their tickets to Fuller and me.
This gift was generous because Albert and Linda have magic tickets that not only get them entrance to the games but access to the hospitality suite (aka free food, drinks, and Fuller’s favorite: POPCORN!). Also, it meant they were going to keep Tebow while Fuller and had a mother-son date. It all adds up to generous giving.
The game started with the general mix of pageantry, techno party, and tradition that I have come to expect at sporting events. The first half of the game was pretty much a snoozer, with Kentucky dominating the boards and Fuller repeatedly asking when he could go get more to drink.
About 3 minutes before halftime we headed back to the hospitality suite, which meant walking down the bleachers and heading to one of the exits underneath the general seating area. It turns out the room was closed until halftime, so we hung out by the entrance to the arena because I didn’t want to hike back up to our seats. While standing there I noticed a table to side with a trophy on it.
Damon had mentioned Coach Chizik would be receiving the Outback Bowl trophy at halftime, something I remembered when I saw the trophy. I had Fuller stand next to the trophy for a quick picture (which didn’t come out). Then I had to explain for a fifth time why we had to wait to get him something to drink.
During my request that Fuller please be patient until the game clock counted down to 00:00, Gene Chizik walked through the hallway, shook hands with a few people, and stood around waiting. A little girl and her mom walked through, giving the coach a hearty “War Eagle.”
So I bent down to Fuller and told him “That man over there is a very important man. He is the coach of the football team. You can walk over to him and tell him loudly “War Eagle” and then ask if you can take a picture with him.” Fuller had been trying to tell people “War Eagle” all day, but he was simultaneously struck with a shyness that made his voice tiny and quiet. Telling him to speak loudly was my hope that he would at least be heard.
Fuller happily walked up to Coach Chizik and said, “War Eagle!” He then turned to me and looked confused, so I directed him to high-five the coach (couldn’t leave the man hanging!) and then asked if I could take a picture.
And that is how Fuller met Gene Chizik.