I’ve already peaked. At age 19.
In mid-July, I was covering an event of sorts in New York – namely, the Bronx – that you’ve probably heard of: Major League Baseball’s All-Star Week at Yankee Stadium in the storied ballpark’s final year of existence.
Honestly, it doesn’t get better than that. I’ll be spending the rest of my so-called career trying to beat that experience.
It’s hard to put what it was like into words – downright impossible. But hey, I’ll try anyway:
History hits you everywhere you walk. As you go up the stairs out of the Yankee dugout onto the field, you can’t help but imagine the likes of Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio doing the same before you. Once you’re on the field, you’re thinking about Yogi Berra behind the plate, maybe Mickey Mantle roaming center field.
Then you find yourself waiting outside the Yankee clubhouse to talk to the players after the game – and you’re waiting with Hall of Famers like Goose Gossage, because they want to go in, too.
Now, I’m here, sitting at my desk at the California Aggie in 25 Lower Freeborn. And given the summer I had, there were some serious doubts in my head that I’d be returning to fill up the left side of this page like I’m doing right now.
Don’t get me wrong – I’ve enjoyed writing for our college paper. I’ve loved the chance to be so close to UC Davis athletics for so long – that’s been the best part.
But when you’ve spent time at two of the country’s larger papers – the Sacramento Bee (which I continue to write for) and the San Diego Union-Tribune – and have an all-star berth under your belt, you can’t help but think that maybe it’s time to venture off to the real world for good.
Then days like Saturday happen, reminding you exactly why you wanted to come back. Days where you say, “Hey, the real world will be waiting for us later. This won’t be.“
Aggie Soccer Stadium has a capacity of 1,250, so when a crowd of nearly 2,000 came out to see No. 21 UC Davis smash Air Force, you knew things were going to be special.
The Aggie Pack went bananas, doing its English Premiere League best in cheering on UC Davis (8-1) – cheers that had an impact on the game itself.
“To play in front of a big crowd like that – it’s awesome,” head coach Dwayne Shaffer said. “It makes the student-athletes play that much better.“
Senior midfielder Ahmad Hatifie found the back of the net twice for the Aggies. He also found the Aggie Pack, leaving the field of play and hopping into the stands to celebrate his first goal.
“It was incredible. I had all kinds of emotions going,” Hatifie said. “I was just thinking, ‘I’ve just got to thank these guys for all their appreciation.‘”
Just hours removed from the game’s conclusion, the Aggie Pack was out in full force once again, as 2,102 fans watched the women’s volleyball team take No. 22 Long Beach State to five sets at the Pavilion.
“That was so special,” head coach Jamie Holmes said. “That meant a lot to me as a coach, and I know it meant the world to them as players.… It kind of brought tears to my eyes, actually.“
UC Davis fans set the bar high on Saturday. Very high.
Now, the Aggie faithful needs to prove it can do it again – only differently.
In the past, Aggie fans have gravitated toward Aggie Pack events – both of Saturday’s games were. They come complete with free T-shirts, tube socks and all the blue and gold bead madness you could ever want (and then some).
They then go into hiding, never to be seen again – well, until the next time there’s free stuff.
That’s the number 1 reason why I came back: in hopes that I’d see the day where UC Davis‘ great teams were the prevailing force in loading up the student section. From here on out, fans need to show there’s more to Aggie Pride than tube socks. I know you can.
And having experienced Saturday’s festivities with you, I have a feeling you will.
ADAM LOBERSTEIN got royally sunburnt at the UC Davis-Air Force game on Saturday – almost as bad as the Aggies burnt the Falcons, but not quite. E-mail him names of sunscreens that actually work at email@example.com.