Homecoming 2011 was definitely one for the Orange and Garnet scrapbook. I’d like to start by giving the football team a mention for battering Averett, ending a seven-year baron spell and clocking a victory on homecoming for the first time since 2004. The campus was absolutely buzzing, and I think it was a great testament to those who return to Maryville year in and year out.
However, drama and excitement were not exclusive to Honaker Field, and there was much cause for “hailing the queen of all the highlands” on that tremendous Saturday.
In a rip-roar tide of events on the soccer field, Travis Bolton came up with a last-gasp winner to send Emory packing with merely 25 seconds left on the clock.
After an hour and 29 minutes of pure battling, Bolton’s goal sent the place into absolute rapture.
It was an occasion that surpasses just winning a soccer game. I am privileged to say I was involved in it because it was the single greatest sporting moment of my life, and I don’t think I was alone.
Emory have had the upper hand against us for a while, and last year they were the only team to really stick the knife into us and twist.
The nature of the game of soccer means that quite often you get a chance for revenge. The sweet taste of beautiful redemption against Emory, a flavor we sampled earlier in the season against Lynchburg, too, cannot be justifiably put into words, but it still makes me grin from ear to ear every time I think about the climax to that Emory game.
You just couldn’t have written that script.
Bolton, the goal-scoring hero, said: “Before it went in, my only thought was not wanting to go into overtime. Then once it hit the net, I don’t know how to explain it, it was just the most amazing rush. It was the greatest feeling ever to be quite honest. The reason I was so happy wasn’t because I had scored; it was because for the first time in six years we could say we beat Emory and I can say I was a part of that team who did it.”
It was a huge day for everyone involved, and I am proud we did it. I am proud we did it for the 13 seniors playing their last game on our home pitch, who are going to leave a big hole in this team once they leave, both on and off the field.
I am proud that we did it for the coaches—Pepe, Baker, Lacava and Kev—because they put so much time and effort into the program.
I am proud Snaggle and B-walk got it because they experienced Emory last year and again they give their time every day.
I am proud on behalf of everyone on the team who stood up and stood strong because we showed a hell of a lot of courage.
I am proud for the fans and parents who follow us through the highs and lows.
Finally, I’m proud for the girls, who got a little revenge of their own.
The biggest grin was certainly on head coach Pepe Fernandez’s face at the final whistle on Saturday, as he looked like a kid on Christmas morning when Bolton burst the back of the Eagles’ net. A homecoming weekend that not only housed the last-minute conquering of an old enemy brought about induction into the Wall of Fame and his own birthday, as well, which I have been “well informed” was the spritely young coach’s 30th.
The 30th anniversary of his 19th, that is.
Overall, it would not be a bridge too far to say it will definitely be a weekend that will live long in the memory of Fernandez.
“It was such a special weekend,” said Fernandez. “I had the Wall of Fame, beating Emory and my son’s state-league football and soccer games. It was a weekend all about sports, for sure, but simply put, it just showed how special a place Maryville really is. I was extremely touched by the number of current players and former players that showed up to support me at the Wall of Fame. I really appreciated it.”
It will never be forgotten by anyone involved. Homecoming 2011 was incredible. Home games are always fantastic, and we have an incredible following. After every game, win, lose or tie, our families are there to support.
It is great to see, but, for me, walking off the field after a game is one of the rare times I’ll ever get a flicker of real homesickness. Through the crowd, seeing the faces and the embraces does make me miss my family a little.
But not this weekend. Not this game.
For the greatest game I’ve ever been a part of, some of my faces were there. They were in that crowd, and it was magical. I wouldn’t change it for the world. For them to see that game was priceless, and walking off that field, that day, knowing I had that celebratory embrace waiting was something no one can ever take away.
I want to thank everyone who met and greeted my family, too. To have them see the American half of my double life was first class, and every one was so kind and so warm to them. Thank you guys so much; I have had the pleasure and good fortune of meeting some great people. I never really knew what brought me here, but after this weekend, I know what keeps me here.
It truly is great to be a “Fightin’ Scot.” Be loud and be proud to be here.