My Field of Dreams

“The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America

has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a

blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time.

This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all

that once was good, and that could be again. Oh people will come, Ray.

People will most definitely come” –Terrence Mann – “Field of Dreams”

Tonight marks the 20th year that I will ring in the New Year in the press box of the Chick-fil-A Bowl, formerly the Peach Bowl. In a way it is my baseball that Terrence Mann spoke so eloquently about.

My life has changed in ways I could never have imagined back in 1994. When I first was asked to help out the Peach Bowl staff it was a smaller event than it is now.

I came in as the vice-chair of press operations under the chair game operations. I worked closely with the associate director of the bowl, moderating press conferences, helping to distribute the credentials and setting up the press box.

A few of the plaques I have recieved as a volunteer.

A few of the plaques I have received as a volunteer.

Now that they have added more staff and have a more steady volunteer crew, I mainly set up the information table near the entrance and assist the two staff members who over see the every aspect of the press room and photography area. It is a much larger operation than it was 20 years ago.

When I began this adventure I was separated with two small boys. I was the director of marketing and development at a church retreat center and hoped to enter seminary.

20 years later I am married. The two small boys have grown into handsome young men. Our daughter is a high school freshman. I attended and graduated from seminary, changed jobs a few times, and moved 4 times.

My husband now has a contract position with Chick-fil-A as a result of me first meeting his boss in the press box.

No matter what happens during the year, come the end of December, I know where I will be.

Happy New Year!

Visiting with Gary Stokan at the FCA breakfast

Visiting with Gary Stokan at the FCA breakfast

The field prior to the Game in 2012

The field prior to the Game in 2012

Each year a crew of volunteers helps to distribute the statistics to the working press.

Each year a crew of volunteers helps to distribute the statistics to the working press.

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An Army Mom Reflects and Gives Thanks

We made it through our first Christmas with our soldier deployed. While we missed him, we did manage to have a very nice holiday with friends and family. Like many people I tend to become reflective this time of year. I thought I’d share some rambling thoughts and reflection about this past Christmas.

Two years ago Christmas day the first blog post I wrote for the military blog site Off the Base was published. The Making of a Military Mom started me on a journey I could never have imagined. When Bobbie O’Brien first asked me to contribute to the blog as the mom of an Army ROTC cadet soon to be officer my first response was, “Thank you, but I am not a writer.” Little did I know when I finally agreed to give it a try that my entries about our experience at The Citadel would be so well received. Eventually I posted my own blog. I’ve met so many wonderful people through this blog either in person, on Facebook, or through email. We have a very supportive community.

This Christmas a group of friends joined me and donated items to be sent to my son’s platoon for Christmas. We heard via Facebook the gift bags arrived right before Christmas. I was thrilled to hear all the boxes we had sent finally arrived. When I asked for photos he told me they would be coming. I checked email and Facebook several times a day hoping to see photos of our guy. A few days before Christmas our daughter asked me what I wanted most for Christmas. I told her, “I’d like a picture of soldiers in Afghanistan.” What a wonderful gift to receive Christmas morning in my stocking. While it wasn’t the picture I expected, it was one of the most thoughtful presents I have ever received.

This picture was in my stocking Christmas morning. A gift from my daughter.

This picture was in my stocking Christmas morning. A gift from my daughter.

She also gave me a t-shirt with the little blue fish, Dory, from Finding Nemo. (In case I forget my name I can look at the shirt.)

In case I ever forget my name, I can look at my shirt. A gift from our daughter.

In case I ever forget my name, I can look at my shirt. A gift from our daughter.

A few days after Christmas an email arrived with three photos. Two of the platoon with the gift bags we sent and one of our guy in a hat we sent to him as a present. It made for a great start to the New Year. The guys look good and we could make out a few of the children’s Christmas pictures in the bags we sent.

Delta Company Christmas photo.

Delta Company Christmas photo.

Delta Company Christmas photo #2

Delta Company Christmas photo #2

New Year’s Eve 2012 marked the 19th year of working in the press box as a volunteer for what is now called the Chick-fil-A Bowl. No matter what changes I am going through in a given year the one constant for 19 years has been this activity. It is like a family reunion each year. My favorite person to catch up with is a gentleman our daughter calls Mr. Walter. He works for the Georgia Dome security during the bowl and his station is right next to the information table in the press box where I work. He is a wonderful, caring, man who is a wiz with statistics of all kinds. He was profiled in the Atlanta Journal Constitution in the past few years. He is an Atlanta celebrity among event goers since he works at multiple venues. I always enjoy our time catching up together at the Bowl. It is also fun to see the various reporters and others who attend the game.

Dorie and Walter catching up during their annual reunion.

Dorie and Walter catching up during their annual reunion.

Members of the press getting ready for the start of the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

Members of the press getting ready for the start of the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

Before Christmas I put word out that the soldiers in our son’s battalion needed some basic supplies. While they had the basic necessities some are stationed in remote areas and could use a few more basics. The response has been amazing! Checks began to arrive right away. I am told more are in the mail now. To date I have received $1,200 to go toward supplies. Several other people said checks are on the way. I am working with the family readiness group to determine what is needed and the items should be on their way next week. An initial shipment of military cold weather socks are on their way to our son’s platoon along with another shipment of the coveted soft toilet paper.

I am overwhelmed with these gifts in addition to the many people who have sent boxes to our son and his platoon. Many of these people I have only met a few times, or only know through online networks like Citadel parent Facebook groups. Some are teachers and have sent boxes of goodies and needed items along with letters from children. My son tells me the guys really like the boxes I send the best. I really think he means the boxes of items I and our friends send. In a very real way I feel we are a small part of a huge family that includes: Citadel families, Army families, childhood friends, college friends, church friends, and a few caring people who read the blog and I have never met.

This past week a package arrived from a Citadel mom. It included a card and check and a very special gift for my daughter and me. A picture frame with two patriotic angel pins. Tears came to my eyes when I read the card. The sender is a military spouse. She has a first year knob at The Citadel and has given me some very helpful tips the past few months. She told me that while the Citadel parents are like family that the military family is even larger.

A beautiful gift from a Citadel mom who is also a military spouse. She is also our angel.

A beautiful gift from a Citadel mom who is also a military spouse. She is also our angel.

I am so blessed to have so many wonderful and supportive friends. I am beginning 2013 with the firm knowledge that our family is blessed to have such a wonderful group of people surrounding us with their care and their prayers.

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