School’s out: A reflection part 3

By Brandon Bush

 

We’ve reached my final column talking about my favorite moments in sports from the 2017-18 school year.

I decided to use the entirety of this week’s column to talk about my all-time favorite moment from this year. This entry differs because it does not have to do with local sports as well as being a subject I’ve talked about at length before.

My all-time favorite sports moment from this school year: The 2018 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.

I want to make something clear right off the bat; I am not anywhere close to being happy about the fact that my Auburn Tigers dropped a New Year’s Six bowl they didn’t care about to an overrated commuter college in Florida just weeks after beating not one, but two, No. 1 teams in the country. Past that terrible moment in Auburn football history, I have to say that the Peach Bowl was one of the best experiences of my life.

I didn’t know what to expect going into that day. The first thing I remember when I was closing in on Mercedes-Benz Stadium was being in awe at its size. Being a Falcons fan as well, seeing our incredible new stadium in person and walking on its field already made that day a dream come true.

It was a bit hectic trying to find my way around the stadium. I’ve been to sporting events in big stadiums before, but I had never seen the parts that are closed off to the public. Trying to figure out where to go and who to talk to took a while, but I was finally able to get myself settled.

Once I had my credentials, I made my way to the press box. I was very impressed at how well all the media personnel were treated that day by the staff and felt I had a great environment to work in the entire time.

I went back and forth between the press box and the field a good bit before the game to both take pictures and just take in everything. Although I was there for work and not to be an Auburn fan, I still got the opportunity to be in spitting distance of the Tigers as they warmed up, which is a very cool thing to watch in person.

Even though there were numerous times where I had to restrain the fan in me from reacting to the many stupid mistakes Auburn made that day, I still naturally developed a sense of neutrality for most of the game. I’ve been doing this for a good bit of time now but I have never been to an event that big (I haven’t been to another that big since), so perhaps it was true journalistic instinct kicking in.

This carried over to the end of the game where, sadly, Auburn lost to UCF. I wanted to be mad Auburn lost that game, but I couldn’t bring myself to have a spiteful mindset. If anything, I was happy for UCF.

The Knights’ victory ultimately made for a better story; the Florida school nobody batted an eye at, which got left out of the playoffs despite being the only undefeated team in the country, defeated the only team to have wins against the two teams competing for a national championship, partially thanks to a man with one hand.

That’s right – I kept up with UCF so little in the regular season that I didn’t realize Shaquem Griffin was missing his left hand until he was named the Peach Bowl’s defensive MVP. Despite all the amazing moments that happened that day, I think that’s what made everything worth it.

So, there you have it. The 2018 Peach Bowl was my favorite sports moment not only of this year, but of my life and career so far. With a whole new year approaching, I am excited to see what other opportunities come my way.

However, just because I got to experience something like that doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten the most important part of my job: covering our area’s local sports. Without the talented young athletes of Lake Country to cut my teeth on, I might not have made it to Mercedes-Benz Stadium that day.

That wraps up my reflections on my first full school year with The Messenger. We have had many exciting moments together so far but many, many more are sure to come in the 2018-19 year.

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