Game day

When Phoebe awoke Thursday morning, the first words out of her mouth were “I go to Bearcat game today!”

“No, Phoebe. The game isn’t until Saturday.”

“No! I go to da Bearcat game today!”

I couldn’t be prouder of the way Phoebe has taken to the Bearcats this season. Football rules in this town, and she’s fitting right in. Kates is coming around, too.

Wherever you went in The ‘Ville this week, the buzz centered on the big game today. Reserved tickets to the game sold out within hours, leaving only standing room. The teachers at Phoebe’s daycare were teaching the B-E-A-R-C-A-T-S cheer to the kids during snack time this week. Schools and offices told their people to wear Bearcat green Friday, and every other person at the chili supper we attended last night was sporting Bearcat green -- Kates, Phoebe and I included.

Take a look at the daily report card the daycare sent home with Phoebe yesterday.

The buzz was so loud, in part, because we were going up against our conference rivals to the south in a third-round playoff game. Their first-year coach had once been an assistant for our team and helped build them into the powerhouse they are today. Now he had his new team challenging our team’s stake as the region’s best.

The buzz was so loud, in part, because our regular season meeting, on their turf, went down to a heart-racing, game-winning field goal with no time left on the clock. We won it 17-16, handing them their only regular season loss. Some said we were lucky to win the game.

Our house finally started stirring around 9 this morning. We were slow to get to breakfast … and then we started putting on the layers. The forecast: In the 30s with gusty winds. Wonderful.

Still at our place around noon, we could hear the public address system and music from the stadium a few blocks away. … We decided to forego the pregame activities. We didn’t want to spend more time outdoors than we needed to, not to mention the challenges a 2-year-old adds to the equation.

We arrived at the stadium about a half hour before kickoff and joined the steady stream of fans walking to their seats. Our seats, some of the last reserved seats available, unfortunately, were on one of the end zones, across the aisle from the opponent’s fan section. In fact, many of the opponent’s fans had spilled into our section and surrounded us. A daunting situation, but we didn’t hide our allegiance and cheered just as loud as they did.

It must’ve worked. Our beloved Bearcats scored a touchdown on their first drive and never trailed in the game -- a welcome change from the last several games, which have hinged on fourth quarter comebacks and necessary defensive stops down the stretch, thus resurrecting their Cardiac ‘Cats nickname. Our team won the game 37-20 and is again among the playoffs’ final four.

As for Phoebe, the girl never quit. She gladly ate from a box of popcorn, sans mittens, throughout the first quarter while sitting on Kates’ lap. She huddled between us under a blanket for most of the second quarter. And she spent halftime bouncing on my knees to the beat of the marching band’s performance. … With the game in hand late in the fourth quarter and Phoebe becoming increasingly antsy, we decided to head for the exit. That provoked a mini tantrum, only until we stopped to watch the game’s final two minutes from the gate.

Sticking to her game day routine, Phoebe was zonked out in her car seat within minutes of us leaving the parking lot.

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