Monthly Archives: September 2011

Under the Lights, Michigan vs. Notre Dame

A guest post by the biggest Michigan fan I know, Mister Brian Molloy.

under_the_lights

If Fenway Park is a lyric little bandbox of a ball park, Michigan Stadium is a stunning crater smashed into the ground that has continued to rise on all sides over the years. Its most recent additions include towers on both the East and West sides with full stadium lights on top of each. Its growing size has made it the largest venue for watching football in America. It regularly holds over 110,000 fans and on special occasions can hold a bit more than that. The new East and West towers allow for premium seating options, as well as, help reflect the sound produced by the 110,000+ fans back into the stadium. The myriad new stadium lights allow for night games to be played at Michigan Stadium, something that hadn’t happened since it was built way back in 1927.

michiganstadium_aerial

Aerial view of the Big House. It's huge even without the new towers!

The football gods at the University of Michigan decided to debut the new lights on September 10, 2011 against the University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Being somewhat of an obsessive Michigan fan, the first ever night game was something I couldn’t bear to miss. So I grabbed Becca, a plane ride, some amazing tickets to the game, and the two of us headed to Ann Arbor, Michigan, mentally prepped for a memorable trip.

The game was titled, “Under the Lights,” by the Michigan powers that be, and from its original announcement until game time, those same powers that be went about making this first ever night game as special as anyone not playing in the game could. The two schools agreed to make it a throwback game that honored the proud and vast football histories that each school has and the rivalry that has exists between the two schools. To fit the theme, both Schools wore throwback inspired uniforms. U of M also had the cheerleaders from each school wear throwback uniforms, and even had the game day officials dress like officials from back in the day. Who doesn’t like a good game of dress-up? To let everyone else join in the dress-up fun, U of M and Adidas released a whole line of game specific gear, including hats, t-shirts, and replica throwback jerseys. Yes, I did get a shirt and a hat.

adidas-Under-the-Lights

Throw Back Uniforms

Michigan cheerleader throwback uniform

Michigan Cheerleader Throwback Uniform

Pet Michigan Cheerleader outfit

Abbey's cat Helen dresses in her Michigan best. GO BLUE! For the record, Brian didn't approve a cat photo for his post 🙂

Believe it or not, Becca and I were not the only fans who decided the night game would be a great game to go to. From my rough estimates, every single member of U of M’s largest in the nation alumni association decided to return to Ann Arbor for the game. In four years of school there and a dozen weekends post graduation, I have never seen the town so crowded. Every store and restaurant was packed with fans eager to commemorate the game experience or relive their college days. All the popular bars had absurd lines at even more absurdly early hours.

But lots of people in town meant more than just crowds, it meant lots of good friends to see and tailgate parties to attend. All these friends and party options worked well with the first-ever night game start time, because when kick off isn’t until 8:00pm, you have a whole lot of partying time. Becca and I started off our game day Saturday with one of Becca’s local favorites, The Maize and Blue Deli. Apparently Michael Phelps also likes Maize and Blue Deli, so it must be a swimmer thing. Actually, everyone likes and/or LOVES Maize and Blue. Their sandwiches are huge and amazing, and come in such a large variety, be prepared to spend 10 or 15 minutes just gapping and drooling at the menu.

maize and blue deli sandwich

MMMMMMM!

From there on, it was 7 hours of non-stop good ole tailgating fun. Becca and I stopped by at least 5 different tailgates over the course of the day, grabbing our fair share of beers and the occasional water as we made our way closer to the stadium and game time.

Michigan Tailgate

Tailgate #1

Michigan Tailgate

Tailgate #2

Michigan Tailgate

Tailgate #3

Michigan Tailgate

Tailgate #3. Brian's cousin Abbey who graciously lets us crash at her place.

Michigan Tailgate

Tailgate #4

Michigan Necklace

Tailgate #5 (Showing off my lovely necklace from Mrs. Molloy).

Michigan Argyle Pants

Fancy Argyle Pants

And then it was game time. What time is it? GAME TIME, WOOP! We arrived at the stadium to find it buzzing with thousands and thousands of excited people. The feeling was absolutely contagious. After a long day of tailgating in the sun, I was completely reenergized. Becca and I quickly found our way to the East Tower elevators and proceeded up to premium seating level 4. Premium Seats came courtesy of my generous uncle. He is a Michigan baller. Our original seats were inside, but we felt too separated from the stadium and the majority of the fans by the thick layer of glass surround our section. So Becca quickly worked her womanly ways, and before they even had the kickoff, we were sitting outside, completely immersed by all the night game fan fare. The stadium looked like a new place under the lights in the dark sky. It seemed to glow. And all the raucous fans moving, chanting, and cheering made it look like one huge pulsing organism.

Michigan fans

Sea of Maize!

Michigan Block M

Walking into the stadium!

The Michigan football gods made several brilliant calls to enhance the whole atmosphere and create additional memories. For one, they handed out roughly 100,000 maize (maize is Michigan for yellow) pompoms. The student section, in particular, used these to great effect. The students, 20 some thousand strong, all wore maize shirts, and when combined with the maize pompoms waving in unison, they looked like a field of maize wheat blowing in the wind. If wheat made a lot, A LOT, of noise, the comparison would be more apt. So imagine really noisy wheat. For another, they put a billion or so pixel camera in the center of the field and took a 360 degree photo of the whole stadium. Then they set up a site with the photo where you can search for and tag yourself in the photo. With cameras like this, the future is now. Here’s a link to the photo: Michigan fan cam If you can find Becca and me, you’ll win a hearty congratulation from me.

michigan fancam

Michigan Fancam

And then there was the game. It was, with no exaggeration on my part, the best sporting event I have ever been to. BEST. EVER. Noted sports expert and blowhard, Mike Wilbon (an avid Michigan hater), has even proclaimed it the best game of this college football season. I can’t argue that proclamation. For starters, the game set an attendance record. You know those 110,000+ fans I mentioned earlier. Well on this night, Michigan Stadium was packed with 114,804 people. Its officially the largest crowded ever to attend a football game. Becca and I were 2 of those 114,804, no big deal. Without us, it would have just been 114,802, which is nowhere near as cool. As for the actual football, well you just really need to know about the fourth quarter. That fourth quarter started with the evil Irish up 24-7 and things looking mighty grim for the Michigan Wolverines. But then Denard Robinson and the rest of the Michigan players started surging. With just 1:20 left in the game, Michigan scored on a screen pass to the tiny Vincent Smith to go up 28 – 24. The stadium literally exploded in screams and joy. The game was ours and we knew it.

Michigan Luxury Box

We were star struck in the luxury box. Even taking photos with the lovely parking lot in the background seemed cool.

michigan luxury box

Luxury Box..O lala. (a BIG THANKS to Brian's Uncle Tom!)

Michigan Notre Dame Game

View from our seats.

Unfortunately, the Irish didn’t agree. They promptly received the kickoff, and marched it downfield and scored a touchdown to go up 31-28 with just 30 seconds left in the game. The stadium was the exact opposite of what I just described. A vacuum had been placed above it and sucked out all our voices and our wills to live for that matter. A few shocked and saddened fans in my section even left. Who could blame them? There were only 30 seconds left. I could blame them, and I did. They are all currently on my not cool list, all ye of little faith.

In those last 30 seconds, Mr. Robinson found an open receiver for a 60 some yard pass, and with 8 whole seconds left, Michigan had the ball on the ND 16 yard line. It was just enough time for one shot at the end zone and then hopefully to kick a field goal if that shot failed. But that shot didn’t fail! Robinson hit Roy Roundtree in the corner of the End Zone with just 2 seconds on the clock to put Michigan back on top for good. The play and comeback were literally epic, insane, unbelievably perfect. The stadium collectively howled and danced and cheered and hugged and high-fived for 5, then 10, then 30 minutes. No one wanted to leave and lose the moment. Becca and I finally left after enough shouting to lose my voice and enough smiling to make my cheeks hurt. We spent the whole walk home surrounded by Michigan fans reliving the victory, and ignoring the scowls on the occasional ND fan who scurrying away to find a corner to hid in.

Michigan Scoreboard

Victory!!!!!!!

I have lived through many great moments and seen some undeniably wonderful things. All of them I wish to remember for the rest of my life. But I know, KNOW, I will never forget this first game under the lights at Michigan Stadium. And I feel especially lucky that I got to share it with Becca, who kindly let me write the blog post for her. Thanks baby and GO BLUE.

Still left wanting more? Click the images below to watch ESPN’s Road Trip experience under the lights! I wish I had this job. 

Part 1

ESPN Roadtrip Michigan v. Notre Dame

Part 2

ESPN Roadtrip Michigan v. Notre Dame

Leave a comment

Filed under Travel

Great Flood in Great Falls

Thankful Tuesdays…one day late.

This week I’m thankful mother nature has decided to rest her weary, crying eyes to bring us some sunshine.

Last week I was pretty shocked at the shear strength of a hard rain fall. When my friend Meredith informed me that not only was Georgetown Pike closed due to flooding but also Route 7,  I thought she was just plotting to have a slumber party.  Quickly remembering she was the sole reason I was not stuck in my car for 10 hours during DC Snowpocalypse 2011, I re-evaluated (thanks again for sending me home early).  Needless to say,  she’s the more weather-informed of us two.

Once again, Meredith and her husband, Adam saved me from my weather woes.  Playing the knight and shining armor, Adam swiftly swooped us up from work in his pick-up truck. Driving home there was of course traffic, which is normal any time it rains in Virginia. What wasn’t normal though was the Potomac River running through Route 7!

After an hour of taking detours, we successfully made it home. I was happy to be dry, safe, and spend some much needed time with friends. Thanks again Meredith and Adam for saving me!

Here’s a link to some more crazy flood photos from the area and some safety tips for flash flooding.

great falls flood

River washing across Georgetown Pike a few moments before a car caught on fire.

Related Posts:

Leave a comment

Filed under DC Flood, Great Falls Flood, Thankful Tuesdays, Washington D.C.

Skkkkkky Diving

DC Sky Dive Adventure!

Some friends and I recently risked our lives, for a little fun and adventure by jumping out of a tweeny-weeny-wittle-barely-5-passenger-plane at 11,000 feet.

We drove about an hour outside of D.C. to the rolling farmland of Warrenton, Virginia. Arriving at the skydiving location, I immediately felt an exhilarating chill travel up my spine as I heard the first plane take off.

I was a little surprised at the informality of the place. The “sky diving center” was in a barn, the runway was made of grass, and the workers were lounging around playing hacky sack and hula hooping. Comforting? No. But hey, I signed up for an adventure and this place was surely playing the part. And I really can’t complain, as I only paying around $100 (regular price $250) through living social for this deal.

dc sky dive

Oh so that's where skydiving is..

dc sky dive

Yep, yep it's that way.

After initialing 500 waivers, pledging my life to the skydiving gods and forfeiting all my independent rights to DC Skydive,  we had our “training session”. If you’re wondering why I placed “training session” in quotes, here’s why. Our training session lasted for about 5 minutes and went over only one aspect of the jump…the safety position. The safety position requires you to lean back on your partner and arch your back, so they can pull the dummy chute slowing your fall from 170 mph to 120 mph. All be it, I agree the safety position is extremely important, but my inquisitive mind was left asking, “What about the other 7 minutes of the fall?”

While waiting for our turn to jump, we played around practicing our safety position, asking our partner jumpers 345785 questions, and watching other sky divers safely land on the ground. With each take off, we came closer and closer to our jump and I became more and more antsy.

dc sky dive

Group shot, pre-fall.

dc sky dive

Practicing the safety position.

dc sky dive

More safety position practice!

And then finally it was time for Brian and I to depart for our free-falling adventure.

dc sky dive

Our teeny weeny wittle plane

dc sky dive

Take off!

Flying up to our jumping altitude in a plane with an engine the size of most lawn mowers,  my partner Patrick, became more and more ambitious about our jump, wanting to do flips, spins, and most scary of all he wanted me to pull the cord to the parachute!

A panic attack erupted in my head.  All the possible consequences raced through my mind,  “Oh you mean that little cord that deploys the parachute…You know that verrrrry important thing that we’re attached to that prevents both of us from plummeting to our deaths…you want me to pull that…OH NO. BIG. DEAL. “ EEEKKK!

You better believe I asked God for forgiveness of all my sins on that plane ride up.

When Patrick opened the door to the plane, my first gut instinct was to latch on to what ever I could.  He literally had to yank my death-gripped hands off the doorway of the plane. I knew there was no hitting the abort button when Patrick began rocking back and forth. In an instant Patrick had jumped and I was free falling through the air, doing flips, spins, and saving both our lives by pulling the cord.  It was amazing how quickly 6,000 ft went by during my free fall, but I guess that’s what happens when you’re falling at 120– 170 mph.

The best way I can describe the sensation is, imagine riding on the fastest roller coaster you’ve ever been on and multiple that by 100.

After our parachute deployed, we coasted for about 5 minutes down to the ground. I just loved this part! The scenery in Warrenton, Virginia was quite lovely. All I could see for miles and miles was green farmland.

From doing all the flips and spins I became pretty nauseous. Landing on the ground, I tried my best not to show my last meal. I instantly understood why those ecstatic dare devils they advertised on their website were so ecstatic. Like me, they were happy to be back on the ground!

dc sky dive

And KT is freeeee, freee falling.

dc sky dive

Brian landing!

dc sky dive

Safely on the ground!

dc sky dive

Group shot, post-fall

With adrenaline racing through my body, I knew this was one of those crazy, once in a lifetime experiences. If asked to describe my fall in one sentence I would have to say, “Sky diving is pretty darn awesome, in a most terrifying way!!”

I may one day work up the courage to sky dive again, but for now I’m just fine staying on the ground.

Another adventure crossed off my bucket list!

dc sky dive

All the signatures of sky dive survivors! We survived!

I went skkkky diving, I went rocky mountain climbing…no, actually just sky diving. Sorry Tim.

Leave a comment

Filed under DC Sky Dive, Washington D.C.

Strasburg’s Triumphant Return

 1-2-3-Strasburg is back in the ‘ol ball game!

stephen strasburg

He isssss back!

On Tuesday night Brian and I watched the triumphant return of Mister  Stephen Strasburg!

I was disappointed last year when he injured himself before I could stand amongst the enthralled fellow Nationals fans and cheer him on.  After waiting more than a year to see the much talked about rookie pitcher, my hopes were higher than high.

Through the wind and rain, Strasburg pitched his famous fast balls with the  control of a mature big leauger. I think this comment describes his new level of control best,

“A lot has changed since the surgeons tore open his magnificent right arm and rebuilt the ulnar collateral ligament with one most likely stronger than before. He has learned to pitch rather than trying to heave every fastball by hitters in an attempt to show some macho muscle. This much you could see in the five innings he stifled the Los Angeles Dodgers in his first big league game in more than a year.

He pitched like a man older than his 23 years, one who wasted nothing – relying on the strength of his fastball and slider to get hitters out. Few pitchers have what he possesses: a roaring, dancing fastball and tantalizing change up. He doesn’t need to fire every pitch past every batter. His pitches are good enough for hitters to get themselves out.”

Even though the weather was grim, with the cheers and incessant standing, it was easy to see Nationals fans’ collective disposition was quite sunny; happy to have their Strasburg back. He pitched 5 great shutout innings before retiring to the dugout.

The Nationals walked away with a loss against the Los Angeles Dodgers, but in this fan’s eyes Strasburg walked away with a victorious return!

nats shirt

Brian got a freee shirt!

Related Posts:

Leave a comment

Filed under Strasburg, Washington D.C., Washington Nationals

Stand Strong Washington Monument

Through the Lens Thursdays

My pep talk to the Washington Monument.

I know you’ve had a rough week, but stay strong Washington Monument. We all have a few cracks we’re trying to cover up. With a little mortar and a few days rest you’ll be that young monument of 1884 in no time.

You represent a great president; a symbol of D.C. and America. Towering over our capitol city, you’re the world’s tallest stone structure and obelisk. You are made of mighty marble and granite.  Need I say more?

I can still remember my first visit to D.C. when I charmingly nick-named you ‘The Big Pencil’. Only a wee little thing, I was amazed at this robust fortress standing before me, so high it seemed to touch the sky (I’m talking about you, Washington Monument).   I’ve admired you since.

Stand proudly “Big Pencil”.  D.C. residents and visiting tourists (on Segways) need you.

washington monument at sunset

Stand Strong

Tourists on Segways, Washington Monument

Segwaying!

Click here to read the latest update on the cracks found on the Washington Monument.

1 Comment

Filed under Cracks found on Washington Monument, Through the Lens, Washington D.C., Washington Monument