Me and The Blue

As I was writing about the Oregon Ducks yesterday, I realized we blew out of Boise so fast I didn’t have a chance to share one of my favorite adventures of this trip.

If you haven’t guessed by now, I am a HUGE sports fan, darn near rabid about Major League Baseball as well as college and pro basketball. I also have more than a passing interest in football.

It would be logical to think I picked up this pastime from my father, but no. He was far too busy working on our cattle ranch to sit down and watch many games. This sports affinity came from my mom and indeed, was pretty much the only thing we had in common. Sitting in our finished basement with her and our TV, I learned the finer points of the games. Our best moments together were spent dishing clumsy receivers and cheering for the better hoopsters at the NCAA Quarter Finals held several years in Salt Lake City and Provo, Utah.

One shared favorite was the Boise State Broncos football team. Led the past five years by Coach Chris Peterson, who is, I might add, the second-highest most winning among all active coaches at any four-year institution, they are football fun personified. And seeing the famed Bronco Stadium and The Blue has been high on my sports bucket list for years.

The Blue is Boise State’s blue turf field and is known around the world as one of the most unique playing surfaces in sports. While the cobalt field does jive with the university’s colors of blue and orange, I have learned that the meaning behind it is far deeper: University officials intend it to be a literal and figurative representation of Bronco football as a blue-collar program, meaning they welcome players from all walks of life who are willing to work hard and contribute to the team and the university.

As we planned our route from West Yellowstone back to the Oregon coast, we would pass right through Boise. Recognizing this as a chance to perhaps get a glimpse of Smurf Field, as it’s commonly called, I asked Scott if we could stay an extra night there.

We did just that and enjoyed seeing the sights of Boise’s quaint old-town and Basque districts, and then made our way to Bronco Stadium. As we drove around it, I was disappointed that I could see no opening in the wall that might afford me a view of The Blue.

“Let’s just go,” I said to Scott. But he was persistent in suggesting that if we walked closer to the facility, we might get lucky. As it turns out, he had no idea ….

At the entrance to the football administrative offices was a large rock monument carved with the Broncos name and logo. Scott asked me if I wanted my photo taken with it, and I figured that would be better than nothing.

As he prompted me on where to stand for the best lighting, a gentleman who had just exited the building mistakenly thought Scott was talking to him.

“What was that?” he said. And Scott quickly explained that I was a huge Bronco fan and had hoped to see the famed field.

Before we could say “Blue,” the man was escorting us into the football administrative offices. I gasped when I saw an enlarged signed copy of the September 12, 2011 cover of Sports Illustrated hanging on the wall. It featured my favorite college QB of all time – Kellen Moore – and is in my short stack of magazine keepers at home.

Out of the corner of my left eye – I was almost afraid to look – I saw Coach Peterson’s office. We were introduced to him – wow! Then we headed into the trophy case area where the team’s two Fiesta Bowl beauties were enshrined in walnut and glass.

“We call them ‘The Bookends,’” our soft-spoken escort added, referring to the trophies awarded the Broncos in 2007 and 2010. If one even thinks they like college football, they remember these games, particularly the 2007 battle against Oklahoma, decided by one point in one of the most thrilling OT periods I’ve ever witnessed.

Our guide moved quickly off down the hall, through a door – I realized later we had walked through the locker room – and then through another door into the tunnel …. as in THE tunnel, the one through which the team passes as they enter the field.

I looked down, realized I was standing on blue turf, and you may be amused to know that I couldn’t utter a word.

Scott handed the gentleman his iPhone, my brain registering, Where in the hell is my camera?

“That may be good for a Christmas card,” our escort said, handing the phone back to Scott. And I thought to myself, oh, if you only knew.

“Will you be here on Saturday for the game?” he said, and Scott answered that we had to leave in the morning. He wished us safe travels and expressed appreciation for our visit and our being Bronco fans.

With my heart in my throat, I shook his hand, thanked him about a thousand times, and asked him his name. “Coach Lorrando,” he said. “Please stay in touch.”

It was only after checking Boise State’s website later that evening that I realized our kind escort was the university’s athletic director.

I’d still like to go to a Broncos game sometime in my life, but standing on The Blue will remain one of my best memories of all time.

On The Blue at Bronco Stadium – October 2012

3 Comments

  1. ed
    Nov 5, 2012

    Well I guess we all know the highlight of the last 3 months!

  2. Torre
    Nov 5, 2012

    What a sweet story! Love the picture of you and Scott on the blue field!

  3. Danielle
    Nov 13, 2012

    I LOVE it!!! Those kinds of stories and acts of kindness warm my heart! Couldn’t happen to a more deserving person! You’re awesome!

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