Spoiled by the excitement that surrounds football, my oldest daughter was surprised there were other sports besides a group of men tackling on a green patch of grass in front of thousands of screaming and obnoxious fans.
As football faded and basketball took center stage, Kyra Emerald grew an interest for other sports and when March rolled around a couple years ago, she joined her fanatic relatives as they screamed at the TV hoping for a first-round upset. She didn’t know what they were yelling about, but slowly, she started to understand what she was born into.
Her curiosity for the game started to elevate late last year when she took an interest in the cheerleaders at a Nevada football game. She wanted to know more, and we enrolled her in a short, one-day cheer clinic with girls around her age as they would learn the basics and a simple routine to perform at halftime of one of the men’s games. Her shyness, though, got the best of her as she felt overwhelmed and out of her comfort zone, lasting only 30 minutes.
Although it didn’t last long, the awareness for sports continued to grow. Kyra’s aunt and uncle bought her a Playschool basketball hoop for Christmas after hearing about how much fun she had playing basketball at daycare a couple years ago.
But for the first time in her short, four-year life, she attended her first college basketball game as we took her and her sister, Arabella Faith, to the Nevada women’s contest against Air Force last weekend.
It’s been several years since I watched the women play at Lawlor but Saturday was the first time my wife and I watched a game with our children. Everything you hear about women’s basketball being family friendly is true. Although they don’t pack the stadium like their counterparts, the Lady Pack are the best winter sports team happening at the university.
As fans arrived at Lawlor Saturday afternoon, both our daughters’ excitement grew once we entered. Arabella, who turned 1 in October, looked around as much as she could before she starred at nothing but the wolf display on the ground floor. Kyra was just as excited as her younger sister as they were about to cross off another item from mommy and daddy’s sports bucket list.
As the Nevada women stormed onto the court minutes before tipoff, Kyra stood and clapped while her sister didn’t hesitate to join her. This was a new experience for the two little Ranson girls, who witnessed what happens when you follow your dream and realize that anything’s possible.
From the crowd cheering to the mascots running down the court with the cheerleaders, Kyra and Arabella were easily amused. Having a bucket of popcorn and a small cup of ice cream didn’t hurt their disposition but the look on their faces is what every parent looks forward to when their children experience one of their passions.
Catching one of the Ts for 3s T-shirt and watching the local drum-line group, eNVision, perform at halftime made the experience worth every minute. Kyra was floored when mommy told her she was on her high school’s marching band and drum-line team.
With tickets only $8 and fans can sit anywhere in the stadium, watching the Lady Pack is inexpensive and fun for the whole family. As Nevada finishes out its home schedule on Tuesday against New Mexico, fans will only have this opportunity until next season to experience one of the most enjoyable family outings.
Thomas Ranson can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.