Sweet Victory

I climbed into my parent’s car at about 1:00 in the afternoon on Tuesday and awaiting me was a Starbuck’s salted caramel latte (which I immediately devoured) and a pumpkin muffin from the Hershey Pantry (which I saved and shared with Jeff for breakfast on Wednesday) – I sure know how to travel or at least with whom to travel!

We were headed to Bloomsburg University to watch my beautiful niece, Ashley, play for Millersville U. in a field hockey playoff game against Bloomsburg. I am not much of a sports fan, but I make an exception for Ashley.  As she has grown up, I have been seen cheering loudly at softball games, basketball games, field hockey games and one unfortunate track meet.  I drew the line at track meets after sitting in the heat in a suit for hours only to see her run for approximately 36 seconds!

Several years ago, when I was blessed to travel with Ashley and my sister, Laura, to Palm Springs, CA for a field hockey tournament and spend part of Thanksgiving day in the pool with a view of the sunset over the mountains, I decided I could get behind field hockey!  This being Ashley’s final year of eligibility, I couldn’t miss the game on Tuesday for anything!  And boy am I glad I didn’t miss it.  Of all the games I’ve seen, this was definitely the most exciting.  The team looked terrific!

Everyone was clearly prepared and excited to compete.  At half-time there was no score in the game, but Millersville changed all that in the second half.  They scored twice and kept Bloom from scoring at all. In fact they kept Bloom from advancing to the playoff finals for the first time in over 10 years and won their first PSAC tournament since 1989!

Seeing the expressions on the MU players’ faces when the game was over was sweet – a mix of pure joy, hard-earned victory and a bit of bewilderment that they would be advancing to face Shippensburg – a long-time rival, cunning adversary and No. 1-ranked team in the country!  They have not beat Ship in over 12 years.  But the team I saw play on Tuesday is clearly ready to take them on.

After the game, after team pictures and a hug for her mom, Ashley came over to hug me and tell me that she was so happy when she looked in the stands and saw all of us cheering for her.  Then she invited us to join her and her parents for dinner at Red Robin.  Of course, we quickly accepted – we don’t need much coaxing to celebrate….we drove about 30 minutes to Shamokin Dam, got a table and placed our orders.  Although I didn’t taste them, everyone else raved about the seasonal appetizer – pretzel bites with two dipping sauces.  I was holding out for my Whiskey River Grilled Chicken Sandwich, which like the game, did not disappoint.  The chicken was juicy and the toppings just right.  I am not typically too excited by chain restaurants, but the service was attentive and friendly and the food fresh and satisfying.  The meals on the table ranged from salads to burgers and everything in between and there were no complaints about food or service.  But how can you complain when you’ve got something worth celebrating with people you love?

I’d love to hear about how and where you celebrate life’s victories!

Click here to see more pics from the Millersville vs. Bloomsburg field hockey tournament game from 10/23/12.

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