A couple weeks ago, Elise and I traveled to Blacksburg, Virginia with her jump rope team. I signed up to drive and chaperone, but it turned out my vehicle wasn't needed. I ended up riding in a car with two coaches and two other chaperones. How's that for chaperoning? The kids were all put in two 15-passenger vans, and there wasn't room for all the adults in there too, so I lucked out. Easy gig, eh? We arrived on Virginia Tech's campus around lunch time on Saturday and had lunch in their food court. I must say that campus food options sure are a lot classier now than when I was in college! I had quite a nice lunch. Then, the coach met with the kids and we walked over to Cassell Coliseum.
This was a men's game, so our seats were not exactly front and center.
This trip was the day after the tragic school shooting in Newtown, CT. Before the game started, the announcer called for a moment of silence for the victims. His words were something along the lines of, "We as a community at Virginia Tech know all too well what that community is going through. We have been there and know the pain they are feeling." That moment of silence was chillingly silent, and the air just felt so heavy. Virginia Tech is the site of the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history, and you just knew that the Newtown shooting likely re-opened old wounds of so many there in the coliseum. At that moment, it felt very raw... just being there.
I didn't have nearly enough lens power to get great shots of the team jumping, but I thought this one was pretty nice.
It amazes me that the kids have the confidence to go out there to perform in front of an audience of that size. That is one of the things I love about jump rope. Having all those people clap for you has got to do wonders for a child's self-esteem. It takes guts to go out there!
The performance was not one of their best, unfortunately. There was an alumni player recognition ceremony immediately prior to their performance that ran long. That meant the jumpers were rather abruptly cut off about two thirds of the way through their performance. Of course, the majority of the audience had no way of knowing it wasn't their full show, so I suppose it was fine. It was a bit disappointing to the athletes who didn't get to jump their routines. They still had smiles on their faces as we left the coliseum though. They are good sports!
After checking into the hotel and getting a little rest, it was off to a night of bowling!
It is fun watching the dynamics of the team play out during social events like this. The team ranges in age from 9 - 18, and they really all hang out together. A bowling lane might have a 9 year old girl, a 13 year old girl, a 14 year old boy, and a 16 year old girl. They all seem to mix and mingle so well. That is something I don't think you get in all sports. I would imagine you see that on swim teams, but sports like soccer and basketball are always divided very narrowly by age and gender. It is really neat to see the younger kids looking up to the older ones and the older ones being kind mentors to the younger ones. It is also great to see them all laughing and having fun together.
After a good night's sleep, the next morning, we feasted on brunch at the Inn at Virginia Tech. That was so lovely, and it was beautifully decorated for the holidays.
I fell in love with one tree in particular. It was decorated with china tea cups and teapots, silver spoons, and packages of tea. It was one of the most gorgeous trees I've ever seen.
We managed to pull off a pretty nice team photo with Santa.
We felt a bit underdressed compared to the Sunday church crowd, but fortunately, we were put in a private dining room. Check out us parents sporting our purple and black!
After a delicious brunch of everything from made-to-order omelets and waffles to grilled swordfish, chicken marsala, and tiramisu,
we headed back over to Cassell for warm-up in the practice gym before the women's game.
We were sharing the gym with the cheerleaders and dance team. I think the cheerleaders enjoyed watching the jumpers practice as much as our team enjoyed watching them.
Sunday's game was a women's game which apparently aren't heavily attended over Christmas break when students have gone home. As you can see, we had our choice of seats.
Sunday's performance was much smoother (and longer) than Saturday's. I suppose that is probably one of Murphy's laws or something though... when there is hardly anyone there watching, the performance is perfect.
It was a fun weekend, and I am glad I was able to go. I love for Elise to experience the independence of going on these types of trips without us, but I treasure the times when I tag along as well.
I videotaped both performances, but I'm not sure I actually got any footage worth sharing. If I did, I'll condense it greatly and share a bit later.