Molly’s Great Game Day

Girls' World - - Your Storytime - BY KAREN BISCHER

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.

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