Inning 29 ★ Writing History

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In an unexpected way, dad had been right. It wasn't over for me.

About a week after Ellen's news article had come out, our story had gone viral on Twitter. Mr. Jones had refused to give comments to media on the topic, only saying that the matter was up for discussion at the next board and PTA meeting, and that an official comment would be provided thereafter. It was the craziest, most ridiculous thing ever. It also started getting me buzz with colleges.

I'd been reached out to by a couple of the ones I applied for, but also others that I hadn't considered. One of them, in Alabama, I'd day dreamed about like a regular person day dreamt about one day driving a Ferrari, except this Ferrari wanted to interview me.

And so I found myself, driving all alone up from Orlando to the college campus. I'd been given permission by our school to miss class for a day for this. If I did make it to this college, I was sure the Principal would turn me into his favorite senior student. The little weasel.

I sang Stronger by Britney Spears in the car for most of the way. I didn't want to think about what they may ask, what I might say, or what I shouldn't do. I just wanted to feel powerful, in control and female. Because that was who I wanted to be.

It took about seven and a half hours from Orlando to the campus. My interview time was 6pm, and even though I took several breaks in between, I made it with time to spare. I found a parking spot close to what I thought was the main building, but turned out to just be the library. I decided to leg it to the right location. It was wonderful out there, the trees painted in all shades of autumn, and I wondered if the students thought I was one of them or could smell the high school stench coming off of me. Who knew, maybe next year I'd walk among their ranks. See the same trees.

The main building had been farther than I'd expected and when I got there I was a bit winded and a lot sweaty. A nice lady had me sit and wait. And that was when I started to feel nervous.

I grabbed my phone and saw a bunch of texts from mom, Santi and my friends. I even saw one from dad.

His read, You can do this, honey bunny.

I was resigned at that point that he'd never drop the nickname. He might become a grandfather one day and he'd still probably call me that.

I just replied, Thank you, dad.

"Miss O'Hare?"

I looked up. An elderly man stood in front of me, dressed like a dandy.

"Yes." I stood up and shook his hand.

"My name is Roger Pearson, I'm the head of the sports management department. Would you please follow me?"

I did, swallowing a lump that had suddenly formed in my throat. He guided me into a room with massive windows overseeing the south end of the campus. I could see students like dots strewn across the grass, just hanging out with their friends after class. It looked idilic.

And then I saw a panel of three men sitting in front of an empty chair. Mr. Pearson joined them and I got the cue to sit in front of all of them. I felt like they were trying to gang up against me.

I put my bag on the floor and faced them. "Alright, let's begin."

They exchanged glances, probably not having expected that. I smiled. Just because they were going to try to intimidate me didn't mean I'd let them. The fact was that I hadn't applied here; they'd called me in because clearly they were interested. So I had nothing to lose.

The one in the center cleared his throat and introduced himself as James Morgan. I repeated his name in my head to try to remember it. "Miss O'Hare, I'll be very forthright with you. We've asked you to join us today because we've thought you're a potential candidate for our program."

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