Wednesday, May 13, 2015

TigerTrek 2015

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Unlike previous two years, the North Alabama Auburn Club would host the event instead of the Huntsville-Madison County Auburn Club. I admit that I was initially skeptical, as the previous two events were held at the Davidson Center at the Space and Rocket Center and they had been pretty dang good. You can read about my coverage of those events here:

Tiger Trek 2014

But, it was being held at the Ingall's Harbor event center in Decatur. While I fish there occasionally, I have wondered what kind of events they held at the really nice looking even center that overlooks the Harbor and Wheeler lake. Well, this would be the perfect time to find out! 

So, I bought tickets for all 5 of us. But, as luck would have it, Aubree had a softball game rescheduled, which would determine the league she wasn't going to miss that. That was actually our call, as she was happy to miss it just so she could go! 

The ticket prices were extremely reasonable, so I didn't expect much for dinner. The past events had been in the same ball park for price and had featured reasonable fare. 

Instead, JW Steakhouse from just down the street in Priceville was set to cater. Again, I didn't want to get my hopes up.....

We were warmly greeted as we entered the building. Turns out, a guy in my Clash of Clans clan (called Auburn, of course) was there to meet us. He was one of the many men and women organizing the event. He gave us a rundown of what all was planned and showed us around. 

My wife wanted to be the first in line to get Gus' autograph and she was HAPPY to stand in line. I mean it. She stood in line for an hour, most of that by herself. Meanwhile, I perused the silent auction items, made some bids(won none of them), and socialized. Turns out, many of my Auburn friends were at the event as well. 

At the appointed time, Gus made his way into the building which elicited a big cheer from the audience. Imagine the laughs when he waved to everyone and proceeded directly to the restroom! My wife managed to snap that on video. As he sat down at the table, I started to pump the boys up that they were going to be the first to see the Coach! Here are the pictures I got....

Yep, the wonders of modern technology! One day we will show this picture to Gavin and explain how he was more interested in Little Einsteins than Auburn's head coach! 

Coach was awesome, as always and signed...and signed...and signed. But he always had a smile and he loves to share a few words with his fans! 

This ball will go into Alyse's office, since I already have one! 

As soon as we got our things signed, we headed to see the Capitol One Mascot of the Year! Looks like Gavin wasn't so excited! Griffin was, though! He could barely contain himself. It wasn't all bad, though. Gavin did manage to turn around and give a dejected Aubie a High-Five. 

Dinner was....amazing. I didn't have high hopes, but I was blown away by the quality of the meal. Everyone recieved a salad starter, then an entree that featured a filet with mashed potatoes, asparagus, and a roll. It was finished with a yummy raspberry cheesecake! 
While Griffin doesn't eat steak...Gavin did. And he did it by the literal handfuls! 
Coach did a full depth chart breakdown for us, which was a lot of fun. The best part was when he took it a step further and showed practice and game film of the players he was speaking of. He also broke down his coaching staff and explained their philosophies, which was cool.

Naturally most of us knew all the players and coaches he was discussing, but it was fun to hear him talk so enthusiastically about his team! 

Perhaps the most moving part of the night came before Coach's talk when the the North Alabama Auburn Club President, Mr. Fite, talked about the real PURPOSE of these events. Sure, we all love the atmosphere and we love to meet coach, but ultimately the events are about raising money for scholarships. Mr. Fite talked about the current cost of attendance and how it is harder now, more than ever, to make it into Auburn University. Auburn has seen a massive increase in the desire for kids to get an Auburn Education, especially in engineering, which is especially big in North Alabama. The money raised from these events helps kids get the quality education they want and deserve. That really hit home for me. 

After the event was over, we were treated with an amazing sunset as we walked to the harbor!