Opening Weekend 2017 at the New SunTrust Park

It’s finally here!  We have waited a long time for this day!  April 14, 2017!!  Three years ago when we got the announcement that we were getting a new ballpark, I had no idea how much progress, vision, and creativity could be carried out so well, so beautifully and so quickly!!

What an honor to serve on the Braves Fan Advisory Board for the new SunTrust Park for 2-1/2 years, working with some of the nicest people, and it is really amazing to see Braves’ vision (and what we have been talking about for so long) finally come to LIFE!!

There was so much excitement Opening night, throughout opening weekend, and so much energy in and around SunTrust Park.  There is so much to do and see at SunTrust Park and in The Battery Atlanta.  We attended the games Friday and Saturday night of Opening Weekend and still didn’t get to experience everything there is to offer.  I can’t wait to go back (which will be soon), and try several new food items by Delaware North in SunTrust Park, and enjoy all the cool places to eat in The Battery Atlanta.  There is so much thought and creativity that has gone into this ballpark.  It is amazing!!  I will let the pictures tell the story.

I was so happy to be a part of this project, even if in a small way.  I am proud to call this ball park, HOME!  Go Braves!

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This is the Silver Bullet Bridge overlooks the plaza where there will be pregame and post game activities that will go on.  Love the Braves Sphere!
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What a gorgeous statue!

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Coca Cola Roxy Theatre Pre-Game Party
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Derek Schiller, Terry McGuirk, Rob Manfred, John Schuerholz at the Pre-Game Party at the Coca-Cola Roxy Theatre!

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He’s a very kind man.  Every time he meets my family he says, “Hi. I’m John Schuerholz”.  Never assuming they know who he is.
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Inside the Coca-Cola Roxy Theatre!  It is beautiful!
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Dancing Chick-Fil-A cows were hanging out near our parking lot!!
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This place was hopping!!
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Beautiful Views!

 

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Flyover during our National Anthem!!  Gave me Chills!

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Timothy Miller has a voice that will melt you!

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One of the many features of The Battery Atlanta!  An awesome place to hang out with your people.  It’s all about the experience.
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Overlooking the other side of the Plaza area where the Fox Sports guys will broadcast from.

 

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For Trivia Purposes:  The First Winner Ever of the Tool Race?  Hammerin’ Hank.
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It’s a beauty.  Don’t ya think?
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We got sit behind visitors’ dugout on this special Opening Night!
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I got this from Dale Murphy’s twitter.  I couldn’t resist!  Several Braves Legends in one shot?  Ok!
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View from our regular seats
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Braves win!  One of many I’m sure!  They had to win the first one!
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We got to enjoy a VIP party before the game but after the game we enjoyed a concert from Cole Swindell.  What an amazing night!
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The Kids’ Area at SunTrust Park

The Braves have worked very hard to include a fun space for our kids!  As with the rest of the ballpark, this area has been well thought out and carefully designed.  Now when your kids come to a game, they will get to enjoy so many amenities that SunTrust Park has to offer.  The Braves, in partnership with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, have come up with a fabulous kids’ zone called ‘Hope and Will’s Sandlot’. It is located behind sections 151-155!

As always, there is a Braves Kids Club membership so your kids can be a part of the team!  A premium membership is $25 (per membership) or there is a free membership option as well.  When you buy a Premium Membership, there are several really great benefits and prizes that include a Dansby Swanson jersey and much much more.  Check out all the info at Braves.com/kids.

And be on the lookout about how you can reserve your times in advance for all the fun games and activities you will see here.

In the meantime, let me show you around….

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The ‘Hope and Will Climbing Tower’ is a fun climbing tower has a large Braves helmet at the top (seen below)!  I’m sure we’ll be spending a great deal of time here.

 

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You will see here a close up of the “loading dock” for ‘Hope and Will’s Pop Flyer Zip Line’!  It looks like loads of fun!
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This is ‘Hope and Will’s Pop Flyer Zip Line’.  This is the loading area where fans get strapped in and zip line down.  The building behind this is a hotel that will open in 2018.  What a great space!

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This is a great view of the First Base Dash, (where you can time how fast you can run), the Pop Flier Zip Line, and Climbing Tower.  The building you see to the right of this frame is a hotel that will open in 2018!

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Kids have their own Braves Clubhouse Store!
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I loved this game as a kid!  This is Hydration Station.  Players get to race by spraying water in the holes, (which raises the baseball),  to see who gets to the top first.
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Batting Cage, ‘Batter UP!’
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At ‘Strike Zone’, you get to see what it is like to hit a home run at SunTrust Park!
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‘Strike Zone’
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‘Chop A Mole’!!

 

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This is a game called, ‘Pick ‘Em Off’… Players will shoot a ball into the hole and whoever has the most balls go in, wins!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Kids even get their own snack and dinner spot!  I’m sure we will be spending a great deal of time here, too.

Thanks for letting me show you around the Kids’ area!  It’s going to be a really fun season!

See you there!

Go Braves!

A Boy and His Dog

I am in awe of the effect dogs have on people.  You see the joy, the smiles, and the stress just melt away when a dog is around.  Whenever I am at the ballpark with our dog, Sammy, people will often approach to say hello.  He is very sociable, loves everyone, and enjoys the attention.  He’s like a “people magnet”.  🙂

The road to finding our Sammy wasn’t easy.  Over the past couple of years, our son had been experiencing some anxiety and was having a hard time with friends in school.  He had also fallen in love the with the Disney ‘Air Bud’ movies, starring Buddy, the Golden Retriever, ultimately falling in love with breed.  My son has watched the ‘Air Bud’ movies so much, that he started to want a dog.  Not just any dog, but a Male Golden Retriever.

We also had a friend with a white English Buttercream Retriever that was so calm and wonderful.  That dog would put his head in my son’s lap.  He loved it!  It was priceless and further drove the point home that my son wanted this type of dog.

It became clear to us that a Golden Retriever would be perfect for our son since we knew that these were great companion dogs, can ease stress and anxiety, and could possibly one day end up serving as a therapy dog, something I had always been interested in.  We knew that Goldens can sense distress in people and care about you with a heart of GOLD.   But seriously, having this kind of dog might help ease my son’s anxiety.

So, we began searching.  We searched high and low, specifically for a male Golden Retriever.  We searched every rescue place in town.  We paid application fees, we had home visits, we tried everything.  I think we tried 5 or 6 rescue organizations, as well as the Humane Society.  We found nothing.  Even the rescue volunteers we telling us that with the dogs they had, who had a lot of problems, they didn’t have a dog with the right fit for us.

This went on for 9 months…

It was heart wrenching…

We were SO ready for this dog. And not just ANY DOG, but the RIGHT DOG.  We had started to give up hope.

Out of desperation, one night I posted on Facebook that we were looking for a male Golden Retriever and if anyone knew of anyone that knew of anyone that had one, I would be forever grateful.

Within hours, My friend replied that she had a friend with a male Golden puppy that was available…. WHAT???  Seriously???

That friend owned a Male and Female Golden, and they had delivered 9 puppies, 4 months ago.  We were so thrilled!

We were able to visit and take home our 4 month old puppy, Sammy, like the same day!!!   It was awesome because we also got to meet Sammy’s mom and dad.   I was reminded that timing is everything.  If we, or the dog’s owner had been in a different place in our lives, then we would have missed this wonderful opportunity.  It was truly meant to be.

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Meet Sammy-7 months old and 79lbs.  He’s going to be huge.  His dad is 110 lbs!

We have had Sammy now for 3 months and he has been so much fun!  My son, who is now 11 years old, has been wonderful with him.  Our boy is more responsible than I have ever seen him.  He takes Sammy outside to go to the bathroom, he feeds him, makes sure he has his water.  He will take him outside to play ball and run around.  At the same time, this dog will put his head in my son’s lap and rest.  Just what he’s always wanted.  We have taught Sammy to fetch, catch a ball in his mouth, shake hands, walk on the leash, etc.  When my son comes home from school, he will say with excitement, “SAMMY!” and then say, “Oh… Hi Mom!”  🙂

I see so much more happiness, and less anxiety, in my kid because of this sweet, insightful, dog.  There is a bond there, a love for each other.  I will bring Sammy to my son’s baseball games and Sammy totally knows which one he is on the field.  Sammy is so loyal and wants to be with his people.  I see the excitement in my son now and I think about all the months that we searched, tried, cried, and wanted to love on this wonderful creature.

And…I am touched at what sweet, intuitive, dogs they are.  Just today, I brought Sammy with me to see my son’s game.  There were several kids that came up to Sammy to say hello, which of course I encourage. But, there was a special needs child in a stroller that showed interest in Sammy. I told them it was okay to say hello and brought Sammy over. This child started squealing and flailing his arms out of pure excitement of seeing this dog. Sammy was so wonderful and gentle with him, letting this child touch his face and rub him. Then Sammy, sensing how much joy this child had, layed down, rolled over, and wanted this child to rub his belly. He had not done that with any of the other children that came up to say hello. It was positively precious.

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Post Game Water Break
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A Boy and His Dog

I will say that with Goldens, training is absolutely essential.  I heard an awful story of a Golden that was turned over to a rescue organization because he was too wild for the kids. This dog had been banished to the basement and was never allowed to join the family.  Basically, all he needed was some training.

They can be strong and they are big.  If they are not taught correctly, they can be difficult.

I know having a dog with babies and small kids can be challenging, but if proper dog training is done and practiced each day, you can have a DREAM DOG.  We have been through puppy training with Sammy and will continue on as he gets older.  These dogs are so smart and pick it up super quick.  It is so important to teach them the appropriate way to act.  Just like we do with our children…

So, was all the waiting and searching worth it??

You bet. 🙂

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My Boy and His Dog

Gift Ideas for Your Favorite Coach

Do you have an amazing coach that has given your kids a great experience at their favorite sport?  As we all know, a good coach is hard to find.  These guys are volunteers and choose to spend their time teaching and helping our kids.  I know we all want a meaningful way to show our appreciation.

I love the idea of going in together as a Team and doing something nice for your favorite coach.  There are many ideas circulating but these are my favorite.

The parents on our team usually collected money for a very nice gift card to various restaurants or sporting goods stores and present it to the Coaches at the End of the Season Party.  This is such a great idea.  They do this on their own.  They know as a team mom, I am working on a gift from the players to the coaches, and I have something special I give to our players….See my post on Team Mom: End of Season Gifts for Coaches and Players.

A meaningful gift for a coach from their players, is a team picture, surrounded by a mat, in a nice frame that the players have signed.  I’ve had several coaches tell me they really appreciated this.  My husband loves seeing pictures of every team he has coached on a special wall in our home.  See my post on Team Mom: End of Season Gifts for Coaches and Players.

Another great idea I heard about was from my friend, Donna.  A coach she had worked with had really done an outstanding job with her kids.  She also knew he was a HUGE Boston Red Sox fan.  She emailed them telling them how excellent this coach was and that she wanted to do something nice for him.

They sent her a bottle of field dirt…to some, it might not mean that much, but to him, it meant the WORLD.  It contained actual MLB Authenticated game-used dirt from Fenway Park.  You can actually go to an authentication database and enter the hologram number which is displayed on the bottle.  This validates that this is actually game-used field dirt.  A very thoughtful gift, and something very meaningful to a true fan.

So, if you are looking for a meaningful gift for an important person or favorite Coach…. find out what their favorite team, or player, and try sending that email to that professional organization to see what they may send you or see what you can find online.

Everyone appreciates a good coach and we want to properly show our gratitude!

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Our Memories at Turner Field

Our Memories at Turner Field…  Where do I start?  There are too many to count.  I truly can’t believe that we are about to go in to the last weekend at this ballpark.  I am excited about SunTrust Park and all of the new awesomeness that we are about to experience, but, I am a little sad to say goodbye to a place where we have spent so much time.

My husband and I attended the second game ever at Turner Field in April of 1997.  We were only dating at the time.  Our first date had been to a Braves game at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium just the summer before, now our life together was to continue at Turner Field.  Since then, we have gotten engaged, married, and had 2 children, who are now 11 and 15 years old.

Over the years, we have attended MANY MANY games.  When we aren’t attending, we are watching the game on TV.  We started bringing our children when they were young, but only 2-3 times a year.  As they got older, we started attending more and more games and ultimately found ourselves becoming A-List members and attending 20+ games a season.

Our babies attending their first ballgame when each was around 4 months old.  They both sat so still and were in awe of everything going on around them.  They have loved it from the beginning!

As I look back at the number of years we have attended games, I am amazed of how many friends and family members we have run into there and attended games with.

I think about how many times we have run the bases, both on the field and up in the Coca-Cola Sky Field area, or how many times we have pitched or hit a ball in Scout’s Alley, or how many times my son has played foam baseball in the Children’s Healthcare Family Zone.  I wonder how many times my daughter and I have gotten our face painted, how many times we have walked around the warning track, chased foul balls, or have been on our feet cheering our guys on to win.

We have celebrated our wedding anniversaries, our children’s birthdays, graduations, Mother’s Days, Father’s Days, large groups from our youth group at church and school, etc.etc.

The list goes on and on……

I think about the number of hotdogs, pizzas, chicken fingers, bags of cotton candy, ice cream cones, and King of Pop popsicles we have eaten.  The number of posters that my children have made to support their favorite players, the number of balls we have caught during batting practice, and the number of players that have thrown a baseball to my children, which is an absolutely precious gift.

I think about the time my husband caught a homerun ball, hit by Evan Gattis, in his glove in centerfield on Father’s Day!  And the time a homerun ball, hit by Freddie Freeman, bounced on the seat behind me and I reached up and caught it barehanded.

I think about the number of post-game concerts we have stayed for, the number of fireworks displays, and the number of rain delays we have sat through…

But most importantly, the number of hours we have spent watching our favorite game, cheering on our favorite team… together.

My children will remember growing up at this Ballpark.

I’ve always loved it that when we were at a game, my childhood or current friends would send me a message saying, “Hey!  We are at the game, are you here?”  They knew we would be there, and this has prompted some very fun reunions.

At the start of this season there was so much negativity surrounding how the Braves were playing and attendance has been low, so we have been able to “stretch our legs” a little bit at games this year.  But now, I am THRILLED that the team is playing FANTASTIC baseball, winning their last 10 out of 11 games, and there will be a sold out crowd at the Final game this Sunday to celebrate the final game.  I’m so proud of our team and always proud to be a Braves Fan!

I feel a little nostalgic to say ‘so long’ to Turner Field, but so excited for the next chapter at SunTrust Park.  This team is going to take us very far in the years to come!!  Just Wait!

So, Thank you to The Atlanta Braves and Turner Field for making the last several years really fun and enjoyable for our family.

Our Memories are Priceless.

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Always a Great Fireworks Show!
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We got to meet Steve Avery!!
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We were chosen to be a part of a pre-game parade and Matt Wisler was warming up!
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Paul Byrd stopped to take a picture with me. He is the nicest guy! He does a great job reporting about the Braves.
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The Braves treat their season ticket holders very well and gave us a ‘Play Day’ at Turner Field.  They fed us, let us play catch on the field, and gave us a tour of the ballpark.  This is the Braves dugout (in the rain)
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In 2015, our son was chosen to be the Honorary Team Captain for the game that night which meant he got to go to home plate and meet the umpires and both managers! He was so happy.

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An autographed ball by Fredi Gonzalez and Andrelton Simmons!  Andrelton threw a ball to my daughter during batting practice the day before and on this day he signed it!  We loved him!

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This was our son’s birthday/last day of school/5th grade graduation day, so, of course, we were headed to the Braves game that night!  He was so excited!  The Braves found out it was his birthday/5th grade graduation so they upgraded our seats to 4th row by the Braves on-deck circle.  It was such a special treat!
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I’ve always thought this was supercool!
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Batting Practice

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My family. 🙂  We were at the Lead-off Luncheon at Turner Field with the Braves players and coaches back at the beginning of this season.  A really fun day!