Tag Archives: mohegan sun stories

At the Casino: Lost Ball, Found Love

Hi Friends:

You’re right: I guess I should explain that “Casino” part first.

For years, Carol and I have been fans of women’s college basketball, due in part to the fact that we lived in Connecticut for several years, not far from the University of Connecticut. So, we followed the girls’ games closely, and, at one point even had season tickets to Gampel Pavilion, the UCONN Huskies home court. We’ve followed the team as far as Texas to witness the Final Four. Not only did we “know” the players, but we followed the college careers of other basketball players, as well.

So … when these players turn professional, we continue to follow their careers in the WNBA.
Today, there are players we’ve followed for over two decades, from several different teams. The closest WNBA team to us is down in Connecticut.

Let’s see … two paragraphs … and, still hasn’t gotten to the “Casino” part …

In our neck of the woods, if you want to see a WNBA basketball game, you have no choice but to go to the Mohegan Sun Arena, located inside the Mohegan Sun. That’s something like 270 miles away, but we are able to watch their games on cable television. I’m sure you realize that this post is not an endorsement of casinos, or even the WNBA, for that matter. I shouldn’t even have to mention how I personally feel about gambling in general. Gambling offers no “draw” for me, and I can honestly say that it doesn’t attract me, in any way. It is just a matter of fact that this is where the games are played.

There are also college basketball games played at the Arena. There are separate entrances for “under 21 years of age” patrons. I don’t know if I’ve ever used a “separate” entrance there, as I just park in the garage, and go into the closest entrance.

Yes … there may be much I could write about why … in a league where “gambling” is, I guess, illegal (I don’t know) … they put a professional basketball team in a casino …

Hey … the next thing you know … they’ll put a professional football team in Las Vegas …

Nah … that could never happen … Imagine what that could do to the “integrity” of the league?

Anyway … “back to the casino” …

We try to go to one WNBA game a year, and, this year, that was in the middle of July. Of the days we could go, the best game was against Minnesota. There are several players for Minnesota we are fans of, as well … We especially love and respect Maya Moore (former Huskie) … We didn’t see her … She has taken this year off to concentrate on Ministry and Family … Yes … Ministry …

We had great seats (I know you’d want to know that), and were even selected to a “meet and greet” with players after the game … The exact same thing happened at the last game we went to, last year …
This year, as we were in line for the photo/autograph session, we talked with a representative from the team, who gave us her card, inviting us to call her for a special deal on tickets to any game we wanted, for the rest of the season.

After a week or so, we hadn’t called her, but another representative from the team called us … and offered us an even better deal for “up close” tickets to any game remaining on the schedule … including being able to go down on the court and meet at least one player …

What would you have done???

So … there we were in August, back “at the casino,” watching the Sun and another of our favorite teams. We were really close to the bench … Great game …

It was then that “Part One” happened:
After the game, certain players remain on the court, and throw out, to the crowd, small basketballs … There were several players throwing the basketballs out, in different sections of the Arena … What are the chances that my favorite player would throw a ball toward me?
Sorry … I mean “toward us” … Carol had already come close to a tee shirt … But … could this actually happen???

I’m not making this up:
My favorite player … holding one of those little basketballs … walked over in front of … us … right there in front of us … and, (and I don’t think I am making this up) … looking directly at us … threw that little basketball directly at us … Directly at us … I reached out with both hands cupped together … the ball came down … it seemed to be in slow motion, yet speeding into my hands … it was like I was watching a movie … the ball landing squarely in the middle of my palms … right there … landed … I clasped my hands around the prize … and the ball, hitting my palms … bounced right back up … the momentum of the throw, bouncing off my hands, launching the ball into the waiting hands of a fan 5 rows behind me …

Never mind what I said.

I then went into mental “damage control.” I mean, I had the ball, from my favorite player, right there … she literally threw it to me … I mean to us … and I had it … right there in my hands … right in my hands … right in my hands.

Man … I am so glad to be an adult …

I’m serious … the ball literally bounced right out of my hands … I had it … I even had time to think, as it was coming down, the route I’d take down to the player to get the ball signed …

I tried to “shake it off,” and, certainly Carol was a tremendous help. Every time I had myself convinced that “that’s ok … forget about it” … I’d be ok for a moment, and then … I’d see that ball … coming down … into my hands … I had it right there … right there in my hands …
Then … “That’s ok … So what? So, I had the ball right there in my hands. Big deal. Get over it. So, it was thrown by my favorite player, and sent directly to me … Get over it. What a souvenir that would have made … That’s ok … forget it … Be grateful you were even here … that you had a chance to … forget about it …”

Would you believe that “that’s all I could think about” as we headed out?
I mean … I did have that ball right in my hands …
I just couldn’t stop thinking about it. …

Isn’t it great to be an adult?
Which means we could take the short-cut to our car, directly through the casino.
Every step I took … I saw that ball bouncing out of my hands …

Then, “Part Two” happened:
We had already planned to eat dinner at the casino after the game.
So, we walked around, trying to find a place that was open. I couldn’t believe, with as many events the casino hosts at night, how many restaurants were closed by 9:00PM. I was desperately trying to get that little basketball out of my mind. Funny how, in those few seconds the ball was in the air, I had envisioned where I would proudly display my autographed treasure …

We walked all over the casino, looking for a place that was open. After a while, Carol needed to find a restroom. No problem, I’ll just stay right here, and wait for her.
Which I did.
Until 30 minutes … 45 Minutes … Now, it was over an hour, and still she had not returned. Do you know what it’s like to just stand there … with your thoughts (of a little round basketball) while you are waiting? As each minute passed, I got more concerned. Then, worried. I walked around … finally found someone who could tell me where the closest restroom was … I waited there for a while, then thinking, “What if she went back to the original spot?” I returned to where I last saw her.
(Note to self: If you are in the middle of a crowded casino, in New England, never ask someone where the closet women’s restroom is.)

I was now beyond worry, and tried not to think all those things I was thinking.
Where was she?
What had happened?
I tried to stay calm, and not panic.
Man … that casino is a big place. And, every area looks pretty much the same to me.

It was then that it happened:
I felt I could do nothing more than just “stay right here” and continue to scan the crowd for a glimpse of her. It was then when it happened … and, it was just like a scene from a movie:
There she was!
She was standing there, alone … all the way across the casino, on the other side … there may have been a hundred people around her, but it was like she was alone, with a giant spotlight coming down, surrounding her. It was like all of the surroundings had disappeared. She was standing there; everything around her was blurred … like one of those photographs where the main focus of the picture is totally clear, and everything else is blurred … I then slowly walked toward her … I’m serious, it was just like a movie … me walking slowly toward her, now everything around me in that blur, but her, in the center, illuminated …
I will never, ever forget that moment. I can still see her standing there, and the look on her face.

As I slowly made my way toward her … I completely forgot about that basketball.

As I held her close, you can imagine how scared she was. She had gotten lost on her way back to our original starting point, and it all looks the same …

And … And …

I completely forgot about that little basketball …

For I realized that right then, right now … I was holding … in my hands … both hands …
the most important thing in the world to me …

Blessings to you, and your family,
Richard. Vincent. Rose.