This past weekend, Willow and I attended an Ottawa REDBLACKS game together. The REDBLACKS were playing the Calgary Stampeders on a beautiful and HOT Sunday afternoon. The stadium was, yet again, sold out to capacity and the energy in the stadium was palpable. Willow was SO excited to attend her first game and, after convincing her that we were not going to ‘Gamma’s work’ to watch the Ottawa Senators nor were we seeing soccer, she caught on to the ‘Go REDBLACKS Go!’ chant and sang it the entire car ride.
When we got to the stadium, the first thing Willow spotted was the bouncy castle just outside of the tailgate party. We were already running a bit late, as is the usual when you have a three and a half year old in tow, so I skipped Willow past the castle with the promise of a t-shirt and a foam finger. Inside the stadium, we headed for the pro shop where I decked Willow out in her REDBLACKS gear, which happened to match her red and black starry dress perfectly.
For this game, we had field level seats, which were PHENOMENAL! I mean, look at the photos above. The field was *rightthere* and you really felt as though you were a part of the action. It was a much different perspective on the game from our previous seats, which were in the club lounge, but it gave us a truly up close and personal look at the players, the game and the cheerleaders (which Willow L-O-V-E-D!)
The best part about taking Willow to her first football game was teaching her the different terms. She quickly caught on to touchdown and my friend Hila taught Willow what a fumble was. I was quite surprised to hear her recount, at a much later time, that a fumble was, “When a player caught the ball but then let it fall to the ground.” She caught on quick and nailed the terminology like a pro.
A football game wouldn’t have been complete without some stadium snacks so Paul and Hila treated Willow and I to some super delicious hot dogs. Willow ditched her bun and grabbed the hot dog on its own, which resulted in a near Ketchup catastrophe of epic proportions. It was though, one of my favourite moments (especially when she reached over to Hila and Paul with her Ketchup-y hands… I think they REALLY appreciated that… haha!)
Although the REDBLACKS didn’t get much action going in the game, it was still so much fun to bear witness to our hometown team. I don’t know that much about football but the beauty of local sporting events is that you get to join 20,000+ people in your community who are gathering for the same reason. The sense of community when you are in a space like that and the energy is simply addictive. You can’t help but get caught up in the plays and in the North vs. South side rivalry (which the REDBLACKS does a great job of keeping up throughout the entire game!)
One of the highlights for Willow was meeting the cheerleaders after the game. Since we were so close to the field, and since I have a relationship with the cheerleading and dance team, they spotted Willow and I and came over to give her a moment she won’t forget anytime soon. It was quite funny though – Willow has a tendency to get really nervous and shy around Disney Princesses and these cheerleaders certainly looked princess-like with their uniforms, makeup and glittery pom poms. They were great though and super sweet with Willow.
Another highlight for Willow was getting on the Jumbotron not once but… TWICE! The first time I was holding her on my lap and she was bouncing, dancing and jumping around with her foam finger and they put her on the big screen. The second time, I was ready for it and got my camera out so that I could snap a photo of her up on the big TV. She was SO EXCITED to see herself up there and kept asking me afterward if she could be on TV again. There was also this gentleman in our row who said that she had made the entire game for him and asked for her autograph. Needless to say, she was feeling pretty elated by the entire experience.
After saying goodbye to our friends Hila and Paul (pictured above with Willow), we headed back toward the parking lot and ended up running across the TSN Kraft Celebration Tour. It was PERFECT timing as they had so many fun activities setup for kids, samples that they were handing out as well as live entertainment on the stage and tons of mascots roaming around to take photos with.
Willow played basketball for a bit and then, it was time to go home. Happy and wonderfully exhausted.
Thank you so much to the Ottawa REDBLACKS for allowing me to bring Willow to experience her first football game. She had SO much fun and, on the drive home, asked if she could go back soon to another game. It seems that she was quite taken by the overall football experience.