Molly’s Great Game Day
It was Sunday, the Cougars were playing today and, after being a football fan most of her life, she was finally going to see them play in person! Molly threw open her closet and pulled out her favorite Cougars jersey, then quickly got dressed, put her red hair in a ponytail and ran downstairs to the kitchen. She was disappointed to see her parents in their bathrobes. Still, she cheerily chirped “good morning” to them. “You’re never this enthusiastic this early on a school day,” her mother yawned as she sliced a banana into some cereal. “She doesn’t get to see the Cougars play the Sharks at school, that’s why,” Mr. Gardner laughed, helping himself to some coffee. Then he looked at Molly. “You do realize we’re not leaving for another four hours, right?” Molly felt her shoulders sag. “You mean we’re not going earlier?” Mr. Gardner raised an eyebrow. “We’ll get there an hour before the game starts. Is that not enough time?” Not when it’s your very first game and you want to see everything you can see at Cougars Field, Molly thought. What she said was, “I guess.”
The second the clock on her night table hit 7 a.m., Molly Gardner sprang out of bed — she’d been staring at the moving dial for almost an hour and couldn’t take it anymore.
Molly turned around and gasped when she saw Cody the Cougar, the team mascot, waving at her as he strutted toward them.
“We’ll have enough time to see all the stuff you want to see,” her dad said. “You’ll have the best day ever, I promise.” Four long hours later, Molly and her dad were in the car, Molly willing the vehicle to move faster than it was. When they pulled into the stadium parking lot, Molly practically flung herself out of her seat and onto the blacktop. There were already tons of people walking around in Cougars jerseys and hats—some people even had their faces painted in yellow and black stripes, the team colors! Beyond them loomed the stadium. It was even bigger than Molly had thought and she gawked at its hugeness as they waited in line to get their tickets scanned. As they entered the cavernous halls of the Cougars Field, Molly danced in place. “I can’t believe we’re really here!” she squealed. “Well, believe it, Mols,” Mr. Gardner said with a grin. Then his eyes widened. “And I think there’s someone who wants to say hello.” Molly turned around and gasped when she saw Cody the Cougar, the team mascot, waving at her as he strutted toward them. He held up a paw, which Molly high-fived, then he crouched down to her height as her dad got a picture with his phone. “Thanks, Cody!” Molly said, starstruck and suddenly unable to think of anything better to say. “Go Cougars!” thumbs-up Cody patted before her skipping head and away. gave her a “This is already the best day ever,” Molly said. “And you haven’t even seen the field yet,” her dad said. When they got to their seats in the upper tier of the stadium, Molly could only stare down in awe at the beautiful green field with its perfect white lines, yellow goal posts and giant Jumbotron, which was showing the Cougars warming up on the grass. Her heart
squeezed when she realized all her favorite players were right there below her. She and her dad were pretty high up, but they could see everything. Seated behind them was an elderly woman decked out head to toe in Cougars gear and holding a giant tub of popcorn. She smiled at Molly. “Are you excited for the game?” she asked. Molly nodded. “I’ve been a fan my whole life, but it’s my first game.” “Wonderful! Welcome to Cougars Field!” the woman said, nodding approvingly. “My name’s Tina and I’ve been at every game the last twenty-six years and I can guarantee you’re going to have a great time today.” Molly bounced up and down in her seat as the game started, and her arm erupted in goose bumps when the crowd roared over the kickoff. “Pretty cool, huh?” her dad said. “So cool!” Molly yelled over the noise … and then the Sharks scored a touchdown and Molly could feel all the good feelings in the stadium suddenly deflate like a popped balloon. “It’s okay,” Mr. Gardner said reassuringly. “Being down by a few points is nothing. They can come back.” But soon, the Sharks were winning 21-0.
“See, you can still have fun at the game, even if the team is losing,” her dad said.
And it was only the first quarter! Molly sunk in her seat as several people around her started booing. “Psh, it’s like they’ve never seen a team come back before,” Tina said, waving her hand dismissively at the booing fans. Molly could only shrug sadly. It was like all the excitement had seeped out of her and she was suddenly just tired. She knew she should have slept in later. nice, Her because hot dad pretzel?” must he patted have sensed her back. that “How she was about upset a Molly’s stomach betrayed her as it growled enthusiastically. “Okay.” Her dad waved over the pretzel vendor, and bought two of them. Molly took a small bite and then a bigger one. Hot and chewy, it was maybe the best pretzel Molly had ever eaten in her life. She felt better. Slightly. Cody the Cougar trotted past Molly on the aisle then. He stopped short when he saw her and double-thumbs-up, cocked his head, as then if to tentatively ask, “Still having gave a fun?” Molly couldn’t help but smile. She gave a thumbs-up back and Cody high-fived her again. He sat down next to Tina and put his arm around her, then took some of her popcorn, and scurried off, which made everyone in their section laugh. “Cody and I are old friends,” Tina said, winking at Molly. During a timeout, a graphic on the Jumbotron encouraged fans to have a dance-off, and the crowd cheered as an old man and a little boy competed with silly, over-the-top moves. Molly couldn’t help it when a snort escaped. “See, you can still have fun at the game, even if the team is losing,” her dad said. “Right,” Tina agreed. “Half the good stuff comes from things that don’t even happen on the field.” Molly thought this over: This day had definitely been more fun than if she’d been sitting
at home, watching the game on TV. In the third quarter, the Cougars finally scored a touchdown, which seemed to wake up the crowd. Molly clapped appreciatively — at least she’d gotten to see them score. What she wasn’t expecting was the Cougars to score a few minutes later, and then again late in the fourth quarter … making them only three points behind the Sharks! Cougars Field, so quiet early on, had suddenly sprung to life and even Tina was out of her seat and cheering. With a few seconds left in the game, the Cougars had a chance to score — a chance to win! Molly was so nervous, she held her breath, as the Cougars’ quarterback reared back and threw. In that brief moment, she thought of how many awesome things had happened that day so far and how much fun she’d had. Molly grinned as she watched the ball fly through the air. No matter what, this truly had been the best day ever.