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World class soccer and a trip down memory lane

By Walter Geiger A trip to the Georgia Dome last week took me back in time and dredged up memories now nearly 50 years old. I grew up an Atlanta Braves fan. I had all the baseball cards. I went to bed at night with a transistor radio hidden under my pillow to listen to late games. I could keep a scorecard while listening to a game. Back then, Atlanta had a minor league team, the Savannah Braves, in the hot, coastal town where I grew up. We hung out there a lot, fending off gnats and shagging fouls and home run balls that flew over the short right field fence. Then, one day, came the news that a Scout or some other group was going to Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium on a bus to see the real Braves play the San Francisco Giants. I was thrilled. I remember gawking as I walked into the mammoth stadium. I picked out the Longines clock and Chief Knockahoma’s teepee that I had visualized after years of hearing them described by the Braves radio team of Milo Hamilton and Ernie Johnson. It was a swell day watching Hank Aaron, Rico Carty, Felipe Alou and the players I idolized. I wore my glove the entire game but no foul ball approached my seat – the only sour note on an otherwise perfect day. Fast forwarding to last week. We fought the remnants of the ice storm to get to the Dome to see the U.S. Women’s National Team play a friendly soccer match with Russia. We took almost every member of our Livia’s soccer team. The women on the pitch (that’s soccer for field) were their idols: Hope Solo, Abby Wambach, Megan Rapino et. al. The girls, ages 13-14, were transfixed. I could tell they were into it because they picked up their phones only to take photos to blast out into the world via Snapchat or Instagram. You know you have a teenage girl’s attention when she stops texting. Over 16,000 fans braved the weather to get to the Dome. Most of them were young women attired in team warmups like our girls. The U.S. team didn’t disappoint. It was 1-0 at the half. Then, the action moved to our end of the arena and the Americans reeled off seven goals to win 8-0. Solo, the U.S. keeper, could have done a photo shoot in the net- she moonlights as a model – as the ball rarely came near her. After the match, the girls basked in the afterglow and tried to get autographs as we proud parents looked on. Jamie Ogletree, father of the immensely talented Emily Ogletree who plays considerably as a freshman for the Pike Lady Pirates, said it was just like us growing up playing baseball and then going to our first big league ball game. That comment sent me off on my trip down memory lane Thanks, Jamie. And, thanks Mom and Dad for making that trip happen all those many years ago. Walter Geiger is editor and publisher of The Herald Gazette.

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