Two weeks ago, the Penn State women’s field hockey team had their final home game of the season against Ohio State. The weather was kind of miserable, damp and overcast with a slight drizzle, but I went up to the game anyway because it was senior day – i.e. the day when they honor the graduating players – and it would be the final game that Natalie Berrena would play at home for Penn State plus she was going to sing the National Anthem for her fellow seniors before the game.
When I got up there, I ran into one of Natalie’s friends, Lisa Plesko, who was on the phone when I got there. As I walked up, she snapped her phone closed clearly irritated. When I asked what was wrong, she shrugged her shoulder and shook her head saying she was really pissed at her friends. When I asked why, she pulled up her jacket revealing a shirt with a big NA on it saying that she had made up these shirts to wear for Natalie but her two friends were hung over and complaining about the weather so she didn’t think they were going to make it to the game. I told her not to worry, I’d fix the problem.
I was quite willing to don a shirt plus I knew another kid, Jason Mattia, at the game who I was sure I could talk into it without any trouble – he had graduated last year but had been a PA announcer for the field hockey team the year before so he knew Natalie and a bunch of the girls. Plus one of the gigs that he had here at PSU was to dress like Captain Morgan for various promotions around town, so I knew he would be an easy sell. It took all of two seconds for him to agree. We all decided to wait until halftime to put the shirts on.
As it turns out, one of Lisa’s friends did show up right at halftime, so we did need Jason’s services (you really didn’t think I’d be the one to sit it out did you?). We changed into the shirts just before the start of the second half and stood by the fence at Penn State’s end of the field hoping she would notice us. As luck would have it, just seconds into the second half there was an out of bounds play right in front of us. The ball was off a Penn State player, so Ohio State had possession and had to inbounds it right in front of us. Natalie stood defending about 15 yards away and, since we were right behind the inbounding Ohio State player, had a direct view of us. Right in the middle of the play, she spots us and just starts shaking her head laughing. We couldn’t have planned it any better.
She called me this afternoon and told me that someone had sent her a photo of the three of us. She had copies made for us and I went over tonight and picked up mine.
Here I am, just living a “LIE”.
PS – Natalie received another honor today when she was named to the National Field Hockey Coaches All Region first team. She has an excellent shot at making All-American and it would be a fantastic way to end her field hockey career.