A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Big Game: Iowa Hospitality Broke Out

If you think Texas High school football is bigtime, maybe you should attend one of Iowa’s Dowling Catholic vs. Valley High School games

Crowd waiting in line to buy tickets at the Dowling Catholic vs. Valley High School football game on September 6, 2019.
This a video camera snapshot of the end of a two-block long line waiting to buy tickets to see the Dowling Catholic vs. Valley High School football game on September 6, 2019. I captured this image from my video camera while inside the stadium—nearly ten minutes after kickoff.

This past Friday I’m going to my first Dowling Catholic vs. Valley High School football game, thinking this is not your typical Friday night game—it’s a rivalry. So, to play it safe I left the house at 6:00 p.m., a full hour before game time.

Surely, by leaving so early with only a ten-minute drive to the stadium, I gave myself plenty of time to fight the anticipated extra traffic and crowd size. More importantly, the early departure allowed me ample time to set up my gear to film the game well before kickoff.

I mean it’s not like I’m going to the Super Bowl. The traffic and the crowd can’t be that crazy, right?

Oh boy was I wrong!

As I approached the stadium, I saw the traffic already backed up about a block just trying to turn into the facility. It was at this point that I started getting that anxious gnawing in my gut. You know, that funky sinking feeling you get the moment you realize things aren’t going to go as planned.

Five minutes later, I finally turn into the facility. But then I had to fight another ten minutes of walking-pace, stop-and-go traffic before I found a parking spot—a mile away from the stadium.

But this isn’t the Super Bowl. This is not the Super Bowl!

It’s already 6:35 p.m. Kickoff is at 7:00 p.m.  So, I hurriedly grab my gear out of the trunk and start walking briskly towards the stadium.

About ten minutes later, I reach the end of a long snake line of folks who are standing—two blocks away from the stadium— waiting to buy tickets to see the game.

Oh no! It’s over, baby.  No way I’m going to get into that stadium before kickoff. In fact, the way things looked, it would be almost halftime before I got inside.

This might be the Super Bowl.

Iowa hospitality to the rescue

Luckily, I began chatting with a lovely lady and her daughter and son who were standing in front of me. After a few minutes, the son decided to takeoff to see if the gate at the top of the hill had a shorter line.

About fifteen minutes later, “Lovely Lady” gets a phone call from her son and I hear her telling him “Buy him [me] a ticket, too.” She gets off her cell phone and says, “My son got us tickets. Let’s go.”

Wait a minute. What?

I never met this lady or her family in my life. And for y’all  to get a fuller picture of this crazy scene: I’m a large, older Black man just chatting with a family of white folks standing in line with me who don’t know me or why I even came to the game.

When we reach the gate at the top of the hill, Lovely Lady’s son smiles at me and hands me a ticket. And as I reached into my pocket to pay him he said, “Don’t worry. I got it.”


This is Iowa folks. Unbelievable!

Not only do I get into the game for free, I only missed a few plays and the score was still 0-0. Seriously folks, If I would have stayed in that first line (see the image and caption provided above) I wouldn’t have gotten through the gates until at least midway into the 2nd quarter.

It was all well worth it because I was treated to one of the best live high school football game experiences in my life. All made possible by the kindness of strangers.

Thanks, Lovely Lady and your son, Mike.

Your family does Iowa proud.

Game Notes: This game was so well-played and exciting I couldn’t just do a Play of the Game—I did a Plays of the Game video. I won’t do any notes on the players because the video speaks for them. Besides, I already spent considerable time telling the story of what happened before the game. A story that needed to be told.

Dowling Catholic vs. Valley HS Football Video Plays of the Game 9/6/2019