Thursday, September 30, 2010

Concession Stand Review and More - Hazel Green

This week’s concession stand review is all that and more. Last Friday night I went out to Hazel Green for their game against Albertville. It was my first time out to Hazel Green this season, and I wasn’t looking forward to it. I’m not sure why, but I hate covering games at Hazel Green. It probably has something to do with the fact that I went to school there for seven years and I’m always afraid I’m going to run into someone I know. At this point in my life everyone I went to high school probably has at least one marriage and one kid under their belt and I still have zero of either one and it makes me feel like a big fat failure. So, when I go out to Hazel Green I try to avoid eye contact with everyone and get in and out as quickly as possible.

When I arrived, I loaded up my computer and my chair and headed towards the press box. I got set up in the middle window of the third floor, per the instructions from Philip, some dude from Hazel Green. The Albertville coaches were set up there, but he said to move them over because technically that window was for the media. So, I set my things up and headed to the restroom and the concession stand.

There was a long line at the concession stand and I had noticed earlier that some band parents were selling cold canned sodas for $1. Since all I really wanted at this point was a Diet Coke, I decided to got that route. I bought my DC and headed back upstairs to discover that my things had been moved to another window. I was now sharing a window with Perry Jones from Channel 2. Apparently Channel 2 films the games of Boaz, Guntersville, Albertville and some other teams and airs them on Saturday mornings. Perry was a nice man, but he should have applied some deodorant before coming out to the football game.

I was thankful I had remembered to bring my chair up to the press box with me, otherwise there would have been no place to sit during time outs, half time, in between quarters, etc. The floor was disgusting. As you may know, I like to eat sunflower seeds during games. Normally, I am very polite and take a cup with me in which to spit my shells. At Hazel Green everyone spits on the floor, and so needless to say, my sunflower seeds from last season were still on the floor of the middle window. When I was moved over to Perry’s window, there were peanut shells all over the floor. It was obvious no one had bothered to clean since the construction of the press box.

This is the floor in the press box - can you see all the peanut shells?
(Forgive the quality of the pictures on this post - they were taken from my phone.)

I cracked open my Diet Coke and took a big sip and immediately wanted to spit it out. It tasted expired. Sure enough, I looked on the bottom of the can and it had expired on July 12. I was so sad I wanted to cry. Luckily, Philip came upstairs with some waters and offered me one so I was saved from parchment.

After the first half of play, I headed downstairs and over to the restroom/concession stand area. I took a shortcut under the bleachers where I ran into a couple of unsuspecting teenagers making out. Sorry, folks. A quick comment on the restrooms at Hazel Green – the facility itself is nice, but the people that use it leave it in an awful mess. There was trash and all kinds of things on the toilets and the floor. It definitely needed some TLC.

I got in line at the concession stand and decided I would order a cheeseburger. I started my stopwatch and forgot to check it after I got my food, but the wait was over five minutes long. They do have another concession stand on the other side of the stadium that is usually less crowded but once I was in the main concession stand line I was afraid to leave for fear the lines at the other stand would be long. I ordered my cheeseburger and two Diet Cokes – I figured I had better make up for lost time from the first half. Once I got back to my spot, I bit into the cheeseburger and it was disgusting. It seemed like it needed to be cooked longer and the consistency was mushy. It was one of the worst burgers I have ever had. I threw it away, which sucked because I was hungry at this point. So, it was back to the sunflower seeds.

I tried to enjoy the rest of halftime because my feet were killing me and halftime always provides me with the opportunity to sit down. They played some rap music over the loud speakers, which made me ponder since when to cornbread fed country boys like rap music? The next song was country, but confusing because it was the song that goes, “Save a horse, ride a cowboy,” which I’ve always thought had some homosexual meaning behind it. Then again, what do I know? Perry Jones had a small monitor under one of his cameras and I wondered if I could sit in my chair and watch the game on his screen. I tried it for a couple of plays, but it didn’t work so well, so I stood back up much to the despair of my aching feet.

Perry's TV under the camera.

Hazel Green had been up 28-0 at the half and ended up blowing it, as Albertville tied things up. The Albertville coaches were jumping around and yelling and screaming like a bunch of baboons, or wild Indians, or what have you, and Perry Jones looked at me and said, “I’ve never sat by the coaches before, is all that necessary?” To which I replied, “It’s not, but coaches act like that every week.” Welcome to my world, Perry Jones.

Perry Jones made some more comments about how Albertville was looking good in the second half, but probably wouldn’t come back and win. “You never know.” I said.

Soon after, Albertville was about to score the tying touchdown and Perry Jones said, “They are about to prove I don’t know anything about football.” To which I chuckled because I thought it was funny that someone who knows nothing about football was filming a football game. Minutes later Perry Jones asked, “What happens if they are tied does it go into overtime?” “Yes sir, until someone wins,” I said. Albertville tied things up and ended up winning not long into the overtime period.

As for the concession stand, which I suppose is what this post is supposed to be about, all prices were $2 and under, which I thought was great. They have cotton candy there too, which is made on the spot, and so far this is the only school I’ve seen that sells cotton candy. Nachos, hamburgers, and cheeseburgers were each $2. Hot dogs were $1.50 and popcorn and sodas (Coca-Cola products!) were $1 each. They had a souvenir cup for $2, but it looked smaller than the $1 sodas. Hazel Green also had a wide variety of candies and also had pizza.

Despite my bad experience, I know from my past trips to the Green, that the food isn’t always bad, and they get another notch up thanks to the Coca-Cola products.

Final grade: B+

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

He's Eight, She's Seven!

Troy and Ashlyn had a birthday party last Saturday; and I risked life and limb to celebrate with the two of them at Roller Coasters skating rink in Hampton Cove. The last time I was in a roller rink was probably the 1980s, maybe the early 1990s. Suffice it to say, it’s been a long time since I donned shoes with wheels.

Saturday was the actual day of Ashlyn’s birthday – she was seven – and today is Troy’s big day, he is now eight! This is very hard to believe!

I don’t really know how it came about that this party was going to be at the roller rink; but let me tell you that place is popular! I wish I had thought of putting a roller rink out that way. The place was packed with kids of all ages and there must have been 10 kids having birthday parties there. They only have two party rooms and Jackie was able to secure one for Troy and Ashlyn. I think we had the room for 45 minutes because these people are turning a major profit on kids’ birthday parties!

I was in charge of taking photos but because of the stunt driving and the fact that I was running a little late (yes, me – I couldn’t believe it either!) I took all of nine photos – two of them are of the same thing. I’m so reliable! Thankfully Melissa, Jackie’s sister was there to take photos as well.

The kids were chowing down on some pizza when I arrived and soon after it was time to cut the cake! Ashlyn had a cookie cake (a girl after mine and Jackie’s heart) and Troy had red and yellow cupcakes – Gryffindor colors! Jackie had picked up some witch/wizard hats to put on top of the cupcakes and they turned out really cute.

Ashlyn's cookie cake - wish I had a slice right now!

Troy's Gryffindor cupcakes

After cake the kids hit the skate floor, and so did I. As I said, it has been a hot minute since I’ve been to the roller rink. I skated around the floor all of about six times and was sweaty and tired and went ahead and turned my skates in. Around the same time, the kids were getting ready for their game of laser tag and as I was putting on my shoes, they started playing “Thriller” by Michael Jackson and I got so excited! I had told Jackie earlier in the week I hoped they played that song because they used to play it every time I went to the roller rink when I was younger. I was so sad that I had turned my skates in and the guy working behind the counter was so slow there was no way I could have gotten a pair and gotten them on my feet in time to skate to even five seconds of the song.

When the kids went in for laser tag, I decided to head on out – there was an Alabama game on after all. The kids had a great time and got a lot of fun presents. Erika keeps saying she going to have a 1980s themed birthday party at the roller rink, and if she doesn’t do it this year, I may have to steal that idea from her, because it was a lot of fun! They also have some arcade games and one of my favorites…ski ball! I wanted to play, but never did – maybe next time. A very happy birthday to Troy and Ashlyn and many more!

This is the only photo I got of Troy - awesome, huh?

Ashlyn with Reagan in the foreground - she usually has her eyes opened.

The girls table

The boys table

Three girls - don't know who they are, but they are enjoying those cupcakes!

Jackie's nephew Dalton - he's approximately 9 feet tall!

Monday, September 27, 2010

I Survived A Chance Encounter With Death

I hate driving. This is a comment I make to myself almost every day. Obviously driving is necessary for me because I have no spouse, live alone, and depend on myself to get from point A to point B. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful I have the ability to drive; after all, my mother, who once loved to drive, is no longer able to do so and therefore I am without a doubt, thankful that I have the capability of driving. I just don’t really enjoy it. I don’t mind driving on the interstate where there’s not much traffic; but it’s the day to day driving that makes me crazy! Especially in Huntsville, the melting pot of people and cultures and driving styles. So, I guess really it’s not the driving so much as it’s the other drivers.

This past Saturday, I headed out to Hampton Cove to Roller Coasters, the roller rink, for Troy and Ashlyn’s birthday party (more on this later). The roads were wet and slick because we haven’t gotten any rain in I don’t know how long and I was going the speed limit and listening to Frank Sinatra on the stereo. I remember looking over to my left as I was approaching what was once the Hampton Cove selling office on Highway 431. It’s a white house that once looked really pleasant, but is now grown up and unkempt and for sale. I was thinking how someone really should clean it up and trim the shrubs and mow the lawn.

Right about that time, I ran off the shoulder of the road a little bit. I tend to hug the shoulder anyway and sometimes the car can get pulled off the shoulder a little. I’m sure this has happened to you before, right? As I went to correct the car and get back on the road, I lost total control. The car started spinning out of control in 360 degree circles across the two southbound lanes of Highway 431. The car then crossed the median (I think backwards) and I spun 360 degrees in the two northbound lanes. I went off the road backwards, plowed into a street sign (I think a speed limit sign), which jolted the car around and it finally stopped. I was on the side of the road of the northbound lane facing south.

I’m sure the spinning and craziness lasted all of about five to 10 seconds, but it felt like an eternity. These are the things that went through my mind:

1. Oh no, please no!
2. Is this really happening?
3. When is the spinning going to stop?
4. Is this really happening?
5. Please let the impact happen quickly!
6. When is the impact going to happen?
7. Oh no, I’m going into the other lane!
8. Is this really happening?
9. Please let the impact happen quickly!
10. Thank goodness I’m off the road!
11. When am I going to stop?
12. Is it really over?

All I could do was hold on to the steering wheel as tight as I could. I also hit the brakes. I don’t think either of these are the right thing to do. I actually have no idea what you are supposed to do in this situation, so I just went with my instinct, which was to hold the steering wheel straight and hit the brakes.

I really thought I was a goner, folks. My heart was pounding so fast when the car stopped and I really couldn’t believe that I didn’t hit anyone, that no one hit me, and that I was unscathed. I had my seat belt on, of course, and if I hadn’t, who knows what would have happened?

I got out of the car and two men had stopped in the median and came over to me. They asked if I was okay. I was. As soon as they reached me, I started crying. I was shaking uncontrollably as well. One of them told me to sit down, but the grass was wet and I was clean and didn’t really know where to sit. The older man noticed the damage P had done and thought it was from my stunt driving and I explained that no, my drunk neighbor had actually done that to my car last week. The younger guy looked under the car and said no fluids were leaking. He also said, “Man, what a ride!” You can say that again guy in the Pilsner T-shirt.

I had seen the older man not long before my journey into Hampton Cove. Before I went to the party, I went by Sonic to get a small cheeseburger and saw him walking to his car from Goldsmith Schiffman Field. I think I noticed him because he had on a nice Alabama polo. I asked him if he had just been down there and he said, “Yes, I was. I left a little early to come home and watch the game.” Jackie said, maybe he was my guardian angel.

Both men stayed with me until I was able to calm down a little a drive again. The only damage to my car was where I plowed down the street sign. There’s a little tear below my license plate – the picture is below. The older man told me to drive in the grass until I got to the driveway at the assisted living home which was maybe 50 yards away. He said that would be the best way to get back on the highway because there was a little incline to the highway where I had ended up.

I finally got up the courage to get behind the wheel and did as the man suggested. I thanked them over and over for staying with me and stopping. That’s one great thing about living in Alabama. I’m not sure people in other parts of the world do that sort of thing.

When I got back on the road I noticed a fire truck coming from Owens Cross Roads. It stopped in the median where the guys were and I guess they told them what had happened. So, I assume someone called 911.

I finally made it to the birthday party, a little shook up, but very happy to be alive. Some of my friends from church were at the roller rink too because of another birthday party. I told them the story and said, “God was definitely with me in that car!” To which my friend Candi replied, “You need one of those God is my Co-Pilot bumper stickers.”

I have no doubt God was watching over me Saturday. He kept me safe and spared my life because he’s got something else for me to accomplish here on earth. When I prayed I obviously thanked him for being there for me, even thought thank you didn’t seem like enough, and also asked him to help me figure out what it is that he left me here on earth to do.

It was a scary moment and I’m extremely thankful that no one, including myself was injured. Thanks to all of you who gave me comfort on Saturday and Sunday. I really have a great group of friends!

The only damage from my stunt driving

Closer view

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Your Questions About P's Drunk Driving Answered

There were a couple of questions posted in the comments section of the post about P and her drunk driving self slamming in to my car last Saturday night. So, I thought I would answer them here in case some of you don’t check or read the comments.

1. What are the red plastic looking things under the car? They are pieces of P’s tail light from her Honda. From what I understand, her car is a lot worse off than mine. Apparently her back bumper is dented in and has a lot of turquoise paint on it and I guess she has a busted tail light as well. I haven’t actually seen her car; this is what I heard from Jeff and the police. But I know the red tail lights are hers because there is some turquoise paint on one piece and it says Honda on it which is what her car is.

2. What would you do without Jeff??? I don’t know! Ya’ll Jeff is the best neighbor ever! We trade food, music (just this week I burned some CDs for him that he asked for), he alerts me to any suspicious activity at my house (like when Erika comes by in a black SUV to drop off Harry Potter books), and it is really enjoyable to talk to him. He is a very interesting character and he also knows all the neighborhood gossip. As Jackie said, I hit the jackpot with him as a neighbor.

3. How old is P? I don’t know her exact age, but via Jeff, she is in her 50s – clearly of an age to know better than to be out drinking and driving.

Completely off the subject, but I thought Kimberly would like to know – this week’s game is at Hazel Green. I’ll be taking my own chair, but will have a concession stand review for you next week.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Cooking In The Car Part III

Yesterday was the first day of fall and the temperature reached 98 degrees here in Huntsville; 98 degrees – in September! I’m not sure what the heat index ended up being, but I assure you it was probably higher than 98 degrees. I wore a sleeveless dress when I should be wearing long sleeves – it’s September for crying out loud. Next week the temperature is supposed to be in the 70s. I’m not going to hold my breath.

If ya’ll pray for anything, pray for cooler weather! Well, unless you don’t want cooler weather I guess. I’m just really ready for a break from all this heat we’ve had this summer. My grass doesn’t really need to be cut, but I would like to trim it up and pull up what’s left of the tomato vines that didn’t shrivel up in the sweltering sun but I just can’t bring myself to get out in the heat and do it.

Since it was going to be yet another sweltering Alabama day yesterday, I prepared in advance and decided to try cooking in the car again. Of course after yesterday’s cooking experiment I thought to myself that I really need a thermometer to place in the car so that we would know what the temperature was throughout the day. Maybe I’ll break down and invest in one soon.

Yesterday’s experiment was at the suggestion of Erika in the comments section of Cooking in the Car Part Two. She suggested baking a potato, and that’s exactly what I did.

I had three different types of potatoes at the house, but went with the smallest, the red potato in hopes that it would actually cook. I wrapped it in some foil and placed it on the dash when I arrived at work. I had a doctor’s appointment yesterday morning, so I didn’t arrive at work until 9:45 and I left for the day at 4:00. So, the potato was in the car for a little over six hours.

When I got to the car, I was obviously anxious to see if it had cooked. I opened it up and…. Wah, wah, wah – it was still hard. It was extremely hot to the touch – quite literally a hot potato, and even had sweated some as it had a spot or two of what appeared to be water, but it hadn’t really cooked at all.

So, this third Cooking in the Car experiment was unsuccessful, leaving me with a record of 1-1-1. I’m calling the egg a tie since it cooked a tiny bit. I don’t think the car was as hot as it had been back in August when I baked the cookies and even on the day that I attempted to boil the egg. So, I might give the potato experiment another go next summer if we have a day in the 100s, which we most assuredly will.

The red potato before being placed in the hot sun.

On the dashboard of the car.

Up close and personal with the red potato

The skin is a little shriveled and it was somewhat tenderer than it was before,
but still didn't cook enough to bite into.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Watching Football Can Be Dangerous

Saturday night, I was lying on the couch watching the Texas/Texas Tech game, enjoying a nice evening of college football. I was also doing some laundry, so, needless to say, there was a lot of “noise” in the house with the TV, dryer, etc. About 9:25 or so I heard a crash outside; usually when there’s a noise like this, The Tide will bark and jump up from her slumber to peak out through the seam between the blinds and the window to determine if everything is okay. Well, she must have been worn out from watching football all day because she didn’t even stir until I got up and decided to check things out.

I opened the front door and saw my neighbor, Jeff standing in the street in front of my house. He waved me over and I asked what was going on. He said, “They hit your car.” I said, “What?” He repeated, “They hit your car and I think they’re drunk. They’re turning around down there. I came out here to see if I could get the license plate number.”

About that time, the car headed towards us at which point Jeff pushed me and him out of the way and said, “Get out of the way, I think they’re drunk.” As the car slowed down, I thought maybe they were going to stop at my house and admit what happened, etc.; but, no. The car was slowing down because it was the car of my other neighbor P. (Name was been withheld to protect the not so innocent).

I said to Jeff, “Is that P’s car?”

“Yes, I think it is,” he said.

And so we started walking towards her house. I asked Jeff, should we call the police and he said, “Yeah, I would. I think she’s got a drinking problem and it would probably be best. Come on over you can use my phone; I’ve got the police department on speed dial.” Yes, there is sometimes a need to have HPD on speed dial when you live in Five Points.

I told Jeff I was going to go home and put some shoes on first, which I did, and then I went over to his house to speed dial HPD. I explained to the guy what happened, told him there was a witness (Jeff – who had been outside smoking and saw the whole thing happen), and that we were under the impression P might be intoxicated.

After I got off the phone, I asked Jeff if he minded speaking to the police, and he said, “Sure, not a problem, let me put my other glasses on.” (No, I’m not sure why.) And I said, “OK, I’m going home to put on a bra.” Look, I’m just being honest here, people! I was at home for the night and I don’t care to wear a bra when I’m hanging out at home with nothing going on but I figured I’d better put one on before the police showed up and as far as telling Jeff is concerned, well, he just thought it was funny. (Jeff is in his 60s for those of you wondering).

I went inside my house and did just that and also managed to call my parents. I briefly told my dad what was going on and about that time the police showed up, which I thought was interesting because it took them about seven minutes to arrive after I placed the call, whereas 45 minutes after I called about Charlie possibly being dead no one had yet shown up.

The police looked at the car and Jeff gave them the account of what happened – the car came from the east stopped a little bit past my car and started backing up (we assume to turn around) and hit my car, then sped off, turned around at the next intersection came back and pulled into the driveway of her home. We told them which house was P’s. They asked if she had come out since she pulled her car into her driveway and parked it. No, she had not.

Two more officers arrived at this point. The first two took car of the paperwork – getting my information, Jeff’s information, and his witness account. The other two went over to P’s house and looked at her car and somehow got her out of her house. I assume they knocked on the door, but I never saw that take place. I think it all happened in the back of her house which I cannot see.

Moments later, the two officers that had gone to P’s house started walking down the street with P in tow. One of them brought her information over to the officers on the porch with me so they could document it in the report. The officer that brought the information up (Jones) said, “She’s drunk as hell, but there’s nothing we can do about it.” I’m not sure what the law is here, but I assume the reason they could do nothing about it was because she was already home and/or her drunk driving was not witnessed by an officer. I really don’t know. While P was walking over to the scene of the crime, she fell down three times.

Once all the paperwork was complete, I went inside to watch some more football and called my parents to let them know what had happened while the police were there and also called Jackie to let her know what was going on.

The next morning as I was picking out some clothes for church the doorbell rang, and I had a sneaking suspicion it might be P – sure enough it was. I had never actually met her before, but knew her name through Jeff. So she said, “I guess I should introduce myself, I’m P.”

“I’m Natasha,” I said.

“I hit your car last night,” said P.

“Yes, I know,” I said.

P went on to apologize and say how ashamed she was and how she knew better, and on and on. I proceeded to give her a lecture about how my car could have been a person and she is really lucky it wasn’t and how about calling a cab next time.

She has since called her insurance company and they have been in touch. So, plans are to get my car repaired soon I hope.

As always, there’s never a dull moment in Five Points, or Peyton Place as Jackie calls it.

Monday, September 20, 2010

MCHS - Revisted

This past Friday I covered the Madison County High School game. This was my second time to Tiger Stadium and since I’ve already reviewed their concession stand, there won’t be an in-depth review this week. I know, I know.

On this occasion, I only got a Diet Coke before the game, and then at half time I got a hot dog and a Diet Coke. Instead of the seven minutes and 20 seconds it took me last time, it took eight minutes and 54 seconds to get these two items. They obviously need more help at halftime. They also didn’t have some of the items people were ordering and those people had to wait on things to cook, which I’m sure was annoying for those people. They added a menu item this week – baked potatoes; which I thought was odd, but whatever. The butter and sour cream was sitting out in a large tub on the condiment table and I’m here to tell you I would not have used either of those if I had gotten a potato. I may have to down grade their grade.

I thought I would take this opportunity to tell you about some of the things I do like about covering games at Madison County because you see, sometimes it’s tough being a female reporter in a man’s world. Guys in the press box are not always keen about having a female around.

The number one thing I love about the press box at MCHS is that it’s large! Instead of a one deck press box, they have two. The press box is fairly new and the first deck is where the clock official sits along with the scoreboard operator, announcer, and other MCHS personnel. In the second deck, there are two small rooms to each side and a large opening in the middle. Each of the small rooms is for the assistant coaches, which is awesome because I don’t have them yelling in my ear and I don’t have to literally rub elbows with them while trying to type on my computer.

They have fans! In case ya’ll haven’t noticed, the weather is still hot right now. When I went to church last night, it was 98 degrees and I’m not talking about the boy bands from the 1990s. At MCHS they have box fans blowing which circulates the air and actually makes things a little cool, or at least cooler than anywhere else I’ve been this season. Without the fans the air would be hot and stagnant and sweltering and the experience would be less than enjoyable, but with the fans going, it is actually quite nice.

Chairs! I cannot even begin to tell you how much a chair means to me. With my feet hurting as they have been recently, I relish the thought of being able to sit at a game rather than stand for three plus hours. At MCHS, they have not only chairs, but comfortable, bar chairs so that you can actually see out of the press box window. I can sit the whole game and still see every play. A lot of schools don’t even have chairs at all. In fact, I’ve been known to carry my own bag chair to some schools, namely Hazel Green, because they have no chairs whatsoever in the press box. The schools that do have chairs have ones that are usually broken down and when you take a look at them you’re thankful your tetanus shot is up-to-date; not to mention the fact that they sit low to the ground and there’s no way on earth you could sit there and watch the game. When at MCHS, at the end of the night, my feet don’t hurt neither does my back! It’s the greatest!

The people at MCHS are also nice. A lot of times, assistant coaches will boot me from my spot – I once had this happen right at the kickoff, which means I missed some of the first plays of the game. It’s as though I am an inconvenience to them. Well, hey buddy, if you don’t want coverage in the newspaper, no problem, I’ve got plenty of other things I could be doing instead. There are a couple of guys who shoot video for MCHS who are always at the game and they are always nice when they talk to me and they leave me alone during the game – both of these are great. I’m not too eager to talk to someone during the game because I usually end up missing something and more often than not, it’s going to be something I shouldn’t have missed – that’s just the way my luck goes.

One of my most favorite things about games at MCHS is the train. There is a set of train tracks that run beside the football stadium and usually at each game two different trains pass by. I don’t know why, but I have always found that to be an interesting characteristic about this stadium and I always love it when the train rolls by. I find myself paying more attention to it than the game.

So, there you have it, some of the things I really enjoy about covering games at this particular school.

On a side note, here’s one thing I really hate about working high school athletics – rosters and newscasters. So far, this hasn’t happened to me this year, but almost every time I’ve covered a game the past two years this has happened and it drives me nuts. The newscasters will come to shoot the game so they will have some highlights for the 10:00 news then they will come up to the press box looking for rosters. More often than not, no one in the press box and I mean no one with the occasional exception of the announcer will have a roster for either school. Then someone will realize, hey this girl from the newspaper has both rosters and the newscaster will come over and shoot video of the rosters as I turn the pages. It’s annoying.

First of all, I guess this is the fault of each school. I mean, how hard is it to print off a few copies of a roster to hand over to the media. This is actually another great thing about MCHS because they always have extra copies of their own roster to hand out. Once I had to fork over a copy of the opponent’s roster to the announcer so that he would be able to announce the name of players. So, here is my (unheard) plea to the coaches and newscasters: Coaches – please bring a copy, preferably multiple copies of your roster to each game so that you can pass these out to the media should they need them. Newscasters – have you heard of the internet? It’s an amazing tool. In fact one web site, AHSAA, has the roster of every single school in the state, LOOK IT UP! Don’t depend on someone else to do your work for you.

Maybe this is also a guy/girl thing. Once when I was working a basketball game, the announcer made a comment that he was impressed I brought my own rosters and stats that no one else from the newspaper did that – hello, I’m the only female sports reporter at the newspaper, are you really that surprised that I’m also the only one not relying on someone else to spoon feed me information? Whatever the reason for the roster snafu, it really bothers me because it doesn’t take a genius to print out some rosters or look up information on the internet, I don’t know why I’m the only one that seems to do it.

Thank you and good day.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Coach Nunley Scholarship Dinner

My daddy and Coach Glenn Nunley

Last night, along with some members of my family, I attended the Glenn Nunley Scholarship dinner at the Depot Roundhouse in downtown Huntsville. The dinner/fundraiser came about as a result of a conversation that some of his former players had. Once the idea was formed, it took off and a committee was formed and they organized the whole event and did a fine job I might add. One of the organizers was my mother. She worked really hard on making sure the evening was a success. The scholarship will benefit an under privileged child so that they can attend Madison Academy. Call me crazy, but I’m willing to bet that the recipient will be a stand-out football player.

Glenn Nunley was my dad’s high school football coach and one of my grandfather’s (Ben-Pa) best friends. Coach Nunley was a standout athlete at Butler High School and earned a scholarship to play quarterback at The University of Georgia. If it weren’t for a knee injury, he may have gone on to play in the NFL; but, it was because of that knee injury that he never played one down at Georgia. He was replaced by Fran Tarkenton – you may have heard of him.

After his years at Georgia, Coach Nunley came back to Huntsville and coached high school football at Butler, Madison Academy and then at Lee. All my life I’ve heard countless renditions of Coach Nunley stories, all of which I love to hear over and over again. As my dad said, “Coach Nunley made football fun.” In fact, Coach Nunley had told Ben-Pa that he was going to coach until it wasn’t fun anymore, and my dad remembers the game when Coach Nunley came over to my granddad at the end of a game and said it would be his last season because it wasn’t fun anymore.

I have known Coach Nunley all my life. As mentioned in earlier posts, my dad started taking me to football games before I could walk. My earliest memories are of going to and being at football games. The games we went to most often when I was a wee lass were the Lee High School games. Coach Nunley was coaching at Lee at the time and Ben-Pa was the “athletic trainer.” I put that in quotes because Ben-Pa never had any formal athletic training education, he just knew how to tape ankles and whip out the smelling salts. I can remember going to and coming from those games and my dad and I would whistle the Lee High fight song, which makes me laugh now because I cannot whistle in the least. Apparently it’s a trait I left in my childhood.

Throughout the night, various speakers and former players told stories about Coach Nunley. Some of the best stories were of the “coaches meetings” at Corman’s. Apparently Coach Nunley, Coach Fletcher, Coach Bennett and others would meet at Corman’s and talk about football, play pranks on folks, among other things. These stories made me smile because Corman’s was another place I frequented with my dad as a small child. I remember the look and smell of Corman’s like it was yesterday. I can picture Corman standing behind the counter too. It makes me wonder if I might have been privy to these top-secret coaches meetings.

My dad told a couple of stories last night and relayed about how once when he was on defense, a guy my dad was defending got a penalty for offensive pass interference – he said that was fun. He said one time they didn’t have a kicker and Coach said, “Parker, go kick off.” So, my dad kicked off and the ball went about 15 yards. Everyone was telling him it was a great on-side kick, but my dad said, it wasn’t supposed to be, he had kicked it as hard as he could – and that was fun.

It was great to hear everyone reminiscing about such a great man and coach.

I have sat with Coach Nunley at many a football game over the years and he always makes me laugh and always has a great story to tell about my dad. Times are so different now, as we all know, and it was nice to see that one man had so much positive influence over so many people. More events are planned in the future to continue raising money for the scholarship fund, but I’m not sure they will be quite as enjoyable as listening to stories about the Nunley days.

Here's a link to Mark McCarter's stroy that was in The Huntsville Times Friday.

There were poster boards of various newspaper clippings throughout the Depot

This is from 1968 - my dad is on the back row #54 - Goose!

My parents are welcoming people as they come in to the Depot.

Here my dad is telling some stories about Coach Nunley.

Coach Bennett was the first speaker - he was in my parents' wedding -
not that that has anything to do with this story. 

Coach Fletcher spoke next and was probably the best of all the speakers.

This is Keith Miller - he played against Coach Nunley in high school and then coached against him.

When you're the photographer, you have to take self-portraits.
I think Justin was mid-sentence here.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Concession Stand Review - Bryant-Denny Stadium

Yes, that’s right; you’re getting not one, but two concession stand reviews this week. Please try not to shout with excitement.

As you may know, we went to the Alabama vs. Penn State game last Saturday and I don’t think there was ever any doubt we would be hitting up the concession stand for one of those Bryant-Denny Stadium Dogs! Oh my word, are they ever good!

We had all eaten barbeque at the Theta house before the game, so none of us were overly hungry. It was either late in the first quarter or early in the second when Chad went down to get Tina a funnel cake. I don’t think I even knew they had funnel cakes at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Tina, Chad and Jackie each took a bite of it and the next thing I knew, Tina was up out of her seat going to take it back. Apparently it was chewy, which isn’t really a quality that I associate with funnel cakes. I’m not really sure how it came to be chewy but needless to say, it wasn’t good and was promptly discarded in favor of a Stadium Dog! You might as well get what you know will be good!

When we walked in to the stadium, I saw a guy walking around selling Lemon Chill, which put a big smile on my face. I wasn’t feeling too well, as you may have read, and in the past when I’ve gotten overheated at games (yes, it’s happened before – I told you I don’t like heat!), my dad has always gotten me a Lemon Chill. It never ceases to instantly make me feel better. It’s probably a subconscious thing, but I’m sure it helps to cool down the body as well. I ended up not needing one last Saturday, but it was comforting to know it was there in case of an emergency. There was also frozen Minute Maid, which a guy behind us had.

At halftime, I got two hot dogs for Justin and two for myself as well as a Diet Coke. Yes, Bryant-Denny Stadium is smart enough to carry Coca-Cola products. I’m sad to admit this was not always the case. When I was in college The University went through an unfortunate Pepsi sponsorship, but they have since wizened up and are back to being sponsored by Coca-Cola. The cost of these five items cost me a hefty $22, but it was all worth it. The Stadium Dogs were $4.50 each and the DC was $4. I actually wanted a DC in a souvenir cup, which would have been $6, but the stand I went to only had the $4 paper cups, which was rather disappointing.

I know they have Nachos and also BBQ at the stadium as well as Dippin’ Dots, Popcorn, and other various and sundry items. I don’t know the price of these since I didn’t buy any, but you can rest assured that it was more than $3. Some folks in our group bought bottled water from the vendors walking up and down the aisles and those were $4.50, with the 50 cent change being kept by the vendor without being told he could do so. I wonder what his tips were like at the end of the evening.

Obviously, the prices at Bryant-Denny Stadium are outrageous but I’m sure The University needs the money (you can laugh out loud now). OK, so maybe not, but people are going to pay the price – I mean have you ever seen a concession stand at halftime that didn’t have people at it? I know I haven’t. I don’t tend to buy much, if anything when at college and professional events, but I always make an exception for the Bryant-Denny Stadium Dog! I haven’t been to any other stadium that serves them the way they do in Tuscaloosa, except when Alabama used to play at Legion Field and they were sold the same way there. They have the perfect mixture of sour kraut, mustard and ketchup on them and it’s like a little slice of heaven. I’ve tried to duplicate this taste at home and haven’t been very successful. You know, as I write this, I just now started wondering how many Stadium Dogs get thrown in the trash after the game because they go unsold. That’s so sad, on so many different levels. I told Jackie last Saturday that I wished I could take a few home and freeze them, but I think we all know it just wouldn’t be the same.

Despite the high prices, Bryant-Denny offers a wide variety of foods for the fans in the stands.

Final grade: A-

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Concession Stand Review: Randolph School

This past Friday I worked the Madison Academy at Randolph football game at Randolph’s new campus on Garth Road. I was anxious to see how the concession stand would be, because, well, it’s Randolph – would they have sushi, fillet mignon, steak tartar? I doubted it, but I thought they might have something good and was excited to check it out.

Earlier Friday afternoon, I was hungry and thought that maybe I had better go ahead and eat something, after all, the Rafee Athletic Complex is a fairly new facility and what if they didn’t even have a concession stand, or worse, what if it sucked?! So, I ate some pizza that would hold me over until at least half time in case there wasn’t anything to peak my interest over at Randolph. It’s a good thing I did.

When I arrived at the game, I was in complete dismay at the sight of things – “press box” (I’ll do a write up on this later), concession stand, one side of bleachers. It was confusing and I felt like I was in a time warp. I went to the restroom (it had the tiniest stalls known to man – beware pregnant women, I’m not sure your bellies will fit inside) and then over to the concession stand to check things out.

The first thing I noticed was that the drink provider for the Randolph Raiders was… wait for it… Pepsi! You can gasp now. I was so disappointed I thought I might cry. I had specifically not drunk a Diet Coke earlier with my pizza so that I could have one at the game. Instead, I had water. I guess it’s better for me, but come on, I like an ice cold DC at a football game.

The set up was kind of odd as well. There were two concession stand windows. Around the perimeter of the windows, they had tables set up so that people couldn’t get near the windows. Behind the tables they had workers who would take your order and your money and then get your change and food from the people at the window, I found it to be a little unusual.

I didn’t purchase anything at half time. The line seemed awful long and I didn’t want to bother nor did I want a hot dog without a Diet Coke. I did see my brother from a distance at halftime and so I asked him the next day if he bought anything and asked him about his experience with the Randolph concession stand so I could give you the perspective of someone who actually bothered to buy something at the busiest time.

From Justin: At halftime there were a whole lot of people standing in line I guess. The whole situation was discombobulated and I couldn’t really tell were the lines were so basically I just went to the front of the line and cut.

Justin was there with a fried of ours, Adam. I guess Adam was his ride home from work that night and got forced into going to the football game. Justin bought two hotdogs for himself and two for Adam and also a Snickers bar. His total was $6.50. The hot dogs were $1.50 each and we deducted that the candy was 50 cents.

From Justin: When I saw ‘em (the hot dogs) I didn’t think they would be good, but when I bit into it it was a tasty beef frank and it was really good. The Snickers wasn’t as good as the hot dog. It was weird because it took ‘em a long time to give me my money back.

Justin didn’t purchase a drink, not because of his adversity to Pepsi products, but because he had brought with him a Minute Maid juice – Minute Maid is a Coca-Cola product, I might add. So, we thought it was interesting, but good for Justin that they let him bring his drink inside. Most places won’t allow that sort of thing.

Best I can remember the highest price menu item was a double hamburger (who’s ever heard of a double hamburger, what happened to double cheeseburger?) for $4. The single patty was $3 I think. Overall, I was not impressed with this concession stand – they didn’t even have nachos!

After the game, I was waiting to speak with a coach and a guy named Stu was cleaning up the bleachers with a broom. He came across some peanut shells and said to no one in particular, “Did the concession stand sell peanuts? If they did, I’m gonna kill them!” He seemed pretty ticked about having to clean up peanut shells. No, Stu, the concession stand didn’t sell peanuts, but apparently outside food and drink was allowed in the stadium, so quit your whining. Seriously, what stadium doesn’t have peanut shells after a game?

Final grade: C+

Monday, September 13, 2010

Alabama vs. Penn State

Bear with me folks; this is a long one…

This past Saturday, my dad, brother (Justin), Jackie and I took a road trip to Tuscaloosa to see the Alabama-Penn State football game. I’m sure most of you know, but Penn State and Alabama were pretty big rivals back in the 1970s and 1980s and my dad had mentally circled this game on the calendar. As luck would have it, we stumbled upon some tickets and were able to load up the car and head south. My dad had wanted to take his dad to the game, but Ben-Pa was feeling old I guess and decided not to go. Truth be told, I don’t think he could have handled it – going to a football game is exhausting for me and I’m 33! Instead, my brother got the honor of going in his place.

It’s really hard for me to put into words the emotions I feel regarding Alabama football. I realize that it’s “just a game” and in the grand scheme of things doesn’t matter all that much, but to me, life doesn’t get much better than football season in general and Alabama football specifically.

I was one of those girls who basically grew up inside a football stadium. My dad started taking me to games before I could walk. Life without football is a foreign concept to me and it amazes me when I meet women who are ignorant about football because not understanding or loving football is something that I cannot understand.

In addition to my dad giving me a love and appreciation for Alabama football, I also went to school at The University of Alabama and Tuscaloosa is one of the few places on earth where I actually feel at home and at peace and like all is well with the world. I leave my troubles behind and am flooded with treasured memories. It’s a city that reminds me of who I was and who I am and the road I took to get here. It reminds me of being young and carefree and it allows me to remember myself as a young girl, a high school girl, a college girl and a post-college girl; it’s the one place I’ve continually been through every aspect of my life.

From the roof of my sorority house I watched the construction of the east side upper deck allowing the stadium to hold over 80,000 people; it now holds over 100,000. My dad can remember when the stadium seated just 10,000 people – ten times less than it holds now. Alabama football is in our blood and has been for generations. We may forget what day of the week it is but we never forget what happened in an Alabama game from (insert year here). You get the point.

The newest stadium addition

So, needless to say when we had the opportunity to go to the Penn State game we all screamed a resounding YES!

We left Huntsville around 11:30a.m. for the 6:00p.m. kickoff and arrived in Tuscaloosa about 2:30 or thereabouts. We were prepared for a warm day – it’s always warm in Tuscaloosa – but were unpleasantly surprised when we stepped out of the car and were hit with what felt like 100 degree heat and 200% humidity. Really the high was 97 and the humidity about 84% but good gracious it felt like the gates of hell had opened up as soon as we stepped out of the air-conditioned car and I think my fellow game-goers would agree.

We parked about one and a half miles from the stadium so we had a bit of a walk in front of us. My sorority house is directly in front of the stadium and that was our destination because 1) it was air-conditioned; 2) it was dry (rain was headed our way); 3) there was a TV on which we could watch other games while waiting for time to go into the stadium; and 4) free food! What more could you ask for? Now I am a big fan of the game day experience. I like to watch the players stroll in to the stadium. I like to listen to the band warm up and play some Bama cheers on the front steps of the Gorgas library (my former place of employment I might add). I like to walk around and yell Roll Tide as much as the next person, but the heat prevented me from wanting to do anything but find a cool place to sit down and wait.

The Kappa Alpha Theta house as seen from the top of
Bryant Denny Stadium.
This was my home for a fleeting moment.

I’m a slow walker. I think everyone probably knows this about me. For whatever reason, I’m infamous amongst my family and friends for walking slow. Having a heel spur doesn’t help things. As we walked to the stadium, I dragged up the rear of our line of four people, sweat pouring down my face wondering if I was going to die right there on the strip where I had spent so many of my Thursday-Saturday nights in the late 1990s. Thankfully I didn’t. The heat and I don’t get along too well. I have said, and stuck by it, that Tuscaloosa is the hottest city in the state. I truly believe it! Try walking to classes in the extreme heat every day of the week and you’ll be a believer too.

I finally had the Theta house within my sight and was focused on getting there and not passing out. I am not exaggerating here. I felt like I was on the verge of blacking out and wanted nothing more than to be safe within the confines of my former home. I finally reached the back porch, went inside and sat on the sofa in the formal living room. My heart was beating so fast and I was so hot and shaking so terribly that it’s a modern-day miracle that I didn’t pass out. Jackie went and got me a glass of water (she was right behind me) and a nice older Alumnae got me a cool wet paper towel. My brother and dad came in a little later (they had lingered outside looking at statues and whatnot because Justin had never seen them and when they came in my dad found a spot in front of the TV in the den and my brother was kind enough to snap this lovely photo of me.

I fought the heat and the heat won!

Yes, folks, I’m pretty sure this is what heat exhaustion looks like. Why everyone else in my group didn’t look this awful I will never know; and yes, I felt just as terrible as I looked.

It took me a good 30 minutes or so before I was feeling well enough to get up and go check on my dad who was also not enjoying the heat. I got him a glass of water and went back to join Justin and Jackie in the formal living room. Jackie was wearing jeans (God bless her) and I don’t know how she wasn’t as miserable as I was. I guess some people can handle the heat better than me. Bring on the cool weather, Mother Nature!

We hung around at the Theta house and were eventually joined by my uncle (for all of about 15 minutes) and friends Tina and Chad, who sat with us at the game. We ate some BBQ and then headed inside about an hour before kickoff.

While the teams were practicing, Saint Nick and Joe Pa met at the 50-yard line along with Bobby Bowden for a photo op and a little chat. Yes, I got teary eyed.

From the Jumbotron

Prior to the team running on to the field, I got teary eyed again; it happens every time I got to a game. The emotions and memories flood my heart and mind and I just can’t hold it in! I soak up the moment. I make sure to look around and remember the smell of the air, the look of the sky, the roar of the crowd and all the other sights and sounds around me and to me there’s no greater feeling, nothing in this world can match the sensation of that exact moment.

We were sitting in the upper deck in the Penn State section but there were other Alabama fans there as well. We obviously enjoyed the game (Alabama won 24-3) and we enjoyed the company as well – it was my brother’s first game in almost four years, Chad is a like a giddy school girl at Alabama games, I always enjoy going to games with my dad, it was nice to catch up with our childhood friend Tina, and Jackie and I always find something completely ridiculous to laugh about. And of course, we munched on Bryant-Denny stadium dogs, God’s gift to the Alabama nation!

Yum! I want one now!

We left the game with a few minutes left to play and tried to book it back to the car. I am again not exaggerating when I say I arrived about 20 minutes after my dad and 10 minutes after Jackie and Justin. After standing up Friday night at high school football and being on my feet most of the day Saturday, my poor left foot did just not want to move any further. Jackie and Justin waited on me a couple of times but we would get separated again and inevitably I would end up stopped at an intersection by some cop changing the flow of traffic, which put me behind even further. I eventually made it to the car and we headed home, making one stop along the way for some late night snacks and talking about some guy in a Cadillac (BRAD-I) that passed us on a two-lane road and then wouldn’t pass the next slow car. We all finally made it to the interstate where Brad zoomed past us leaving us in his dust. We arrived back in Huntsville a little after 12:30 a.m., exhausted, sticky, and stinky, but we had a great time, heat exhaustion and all.

College Game Day was there - love those guys!
I saw Chris Fowler walking into the stadium as we were leaving.
It was very reminiscent of the time I saw him at LSU.
I still think Rece Davis is the hardest working man in college football though.

Big Al on the field before the game.
I tried out for Big Al when I went to school at Alabama.
Maybe one day I'll tell you about it... or maybe not!

Tina took this photo of me and Jackie.
I was rumaging through my purse for something.

Jackie and my dad

Chad and Tina

We saw the Nittany Lion as we were walking to our gate.
I told my brother to take it's picture -
he got the back of it's head way over in the distance -
can you see it?

My daddy - lover of Alabama football!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

So Mysterious!

What's inside?

Last week Erika sent me an email that said, “Have you heard of They are clearing out their warehouse, and offering mystery boxes!!! They offer them in specific amounts and you don't know what you get! I couldn't resist :) They guarantee the value of the box to be more than you pay, I just hope I like what's in mine. I'm such a sucker!”

Well, Apparently I’m a sucker too because as soon as she sent the email, I went over to the Delight web site and bought a $15 mystery box. I am always intrigued by these types of things. When Woot has a mystery shirt, I pretty much always buy one – the thrill is in the surprise of it all. So, I thought I would give this Delight mystery box a try and see what types of goodies I would get.

I let Erika know I ordered one as well and she said that we should wait and open them together – just for you readers! She’s always thinking of the readers first! I agreed that that was a swell idea.

The next day, we got our tracking numbers and found out our packages would be arriving on Friday. I emailed Erika and asked her (since she doesn’t get off work until 5:00 and I was covering football that night) if she could hold on until Saturday before opening her package. As luck would have it she was headed out of town on Saturday and wouldn’t be able to meet up for the revealing of the mystery boxes. So, we tentatively decided on opening the packages Sunday afternoon – that is if we both could wait that long; curiosity killed the cat, you know.

Since it was the Friday before a holiday weekend, Erika was able to go home all of one hour early on Friday, meaning she was able to leave work at 4:00. She gave me a call to see if she could come over with her mystery box so we could open them together and check out what was inside. I said, sure, no problem, come on over.

Erika arrived a few minutes later and we put our boxes on the table and revealed the mystery inside.

Erika’s box contained a Kleen Kanteen, an iced tea maker, speakers for an iPod that looked like a Lego (color – gold), some post it notes, and a lolli-pop. (She bought the $50 box)

My box contained iPod speakers that looked like a Lego (color – yellow), a Smencil (a pencil that smelled like cotton candy), a lolli-pop, and some ear buds for iPod or other device that had a “diamond” gem on the actual earpiece – a little gaudy for my taste, but I think Erika liked them. Not that Erika’s gaudy, she just likes bling!

So, the mystery has been revealed. I doubt I will ever buy another mystery box from Delight – I was kind of disappointed with my mysterious goods. Erika liked all of hers for the most part. She said her lolli-pop was really good and she has used the ice tea maker and said it actually works – I think she was a little apprehensive about the quality and whether or not it would actually work.

All of Erika's mystery box goodies

It was fun to do this one time just to see what kind of goodies were inside, plus it gave me some things to use when playing “Dirty Santa” come Christmas time.

Natasha's latest Dirty Santa gifts - except for maybe the Smencil,
and then again I might try out the Lego speaker just to see if it works.