We don't get very many chances to see our favorite NCAA Division I basketball team play in person. Most of the time, it's hard to even catch them on television, as the mid-major team is based in Fargo, ND.
Although, Kyle still roots for Illinois and I'm still a Missouri Tiger at heart, we've adopted a new team over the past two seasons, the North Dakota State University Bison. And let's face it, they're much more fun to watch than the Illini or the Tigers the past few years.
|Princess Grace in the lobby of our hotel room. It was just too cute not to share!|
Our journey to the green and gold team started when Hillsboro High School senior Dylan Miller helped Grace "dunk" the basketball at a game Kyle was covering. The 6'7" Miller would go on to join the Bison, and we have been fans ever since. Last year, we had the chance to see them play twice in person, once when they played the Illini in Springfield and another time for a conference game at Western Illinois University in Macomb.
|Hotel snuggles with daddy!|
When the schedule was released for this season, Kyle immediately put their game at Western on our calendar, and we started making plans for a return trip to Macomb. The three-hour drive definitely requires an overnight stay on our part, and it's still much closer than going all the way to Fargo.
|We had pizza delivered for dinner - and it was great!|
We decided this year that we would go up on Friday night before the Saturday game. Grace had physical therapy in Springfield, so we were already a good portion of the way there, and it gave us a chance to relax on Friday evening. Originally, we had planned to take Grace swimming at the hotel, since that's one of her favorite activities. However, the pool at the hotel was closed for repairs, so we opted for a movie instead.
|Grace loved listening to the music during the movie "Sing."|
Kyle and I had been wanting to take Grace to see the animated movie Sing, and it was perfect opportunity. We made sure to sit pretty close, and although I'm not sure how much of it Grace could see, she definitely enjoyed all the music, and we enjoyed the chance to be together.
|Watching our Spurs play at Buffalo Wild Wings.|
We enjoyed a pretty lazy Saturday morning in the hotel room, before stopping for lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings to watch Kyle and Grace's Tottenham Hotspur play in the English Premier League game. The food was great, and it was fun to watch the game together too.
|Hanging out with my favorite Bison cheerleader!|
After having lunch, we headed back to the campus at Western Illinois University to get ready for the game. We picked seats right behind the North Dakota State team bench, and waved at Dylan as he and his team got ready for the game. Grace looked awfully cute in her Bison cheerleading uniform and seemed to enjoy the people that came over to talk to her.
|Someone fell asleep on daddy's lap during the game.|
Kyle had a chance to visit with our friend, Wes, who is an assistant athletic director for the team, and has followed our story since the very first game we saw. We brought a couple of Grace scarves for Wes and his wife, as a thank you for all they have done for us.
|Daddy and his tired little Bison fan.|
Once the game got started, Dylan took the tip off for the Bison. Grace and I cheered from our seats and Kyle took a spot on the sideline to take some photos for the paper. It ended up being one of the best games Dylan had this season, and Kyle got some awesome photos of him dunking the ball in the first half. Kyle joined us in our seats for the second half, and Grace promptly fell asleep in his lap for a good portion of the game.
|Dylan was so gracious to come over and talk to Grace after the game.|
We have really enjoyed the chance to see the Bison play in person and meeting some members of the team. After the game, Coach Richman stopped by to thank us for coming, and Dylan made a point to come over to thank us too. He talked basketball with Kyle for a little bit, but specifically stopped to talk to Grace and ask her if she enjoyed the game. Even though she couldn't respond with words, she had a huge smile for Dylan, and I know she was glad he came to talk to her.
|Kyle got this awesome shot of Dylan during one of his dunks.|
Even before we learned that Grace had INAD, we tried hard to share as many experiences with her as possible. And we've had some really great chances. Although we've adopted the Bison as one of our favorite teams, we feel like they've adopted us too. Since Fargo is a 12-hour drive, we may not have very many more chances to see them to play in person, but we know we'll be on the sidelines next January when they head back to Macomb. We wouldn't miss it for the world.