Pluskota's Perspective: Vol. 6

March 30, 2012

Throughout her final season at Tennessee, senior Natalie Pluskota will provide her account and reflections of the 2012 season. In this edition, Pluskota talks about her role in a recent proposal and the team's trip to Las Vegas.

While a full-time student-athlete juggling class and tennis, I also work with the Tennessee Athletics Department event management staff.

Two days before leaving for Las Vegas, Amanda (co-worker) and I had to give a tour of Neyland Stadium to a young couple. It was nearing 1 p.m. when Amanda and I posted up outside Gate 21 to wait for the couple to arrive. We jokingly kept trying to guess which two it would be as people continuously passed by. Amanda and I were anxiously waiting and were a bit nervous knowing that the tour was to end with a proposal in the middle of the field.

As the couple arrived, we couldn't help but notice the ring in the guy's pocket, which made us even more excited! As we moved from spot to spot in the stadium, we created small talk trying to make things a little more at ease, as the girl had no idea what to expect. We quickly learned that the girl was a huge football fan, enjoying both professional and collegiate levels, and had been on many other football stadium tours.

Sidenote: Throughout the tour she kept telling us that this could potentially be the best day ever for her, since her best friend was about to have her baby and she was touring her favorite stadium of her favorite team. I could not help but think to myself at this very moment "Just wait, you have no idea what is about to happen!"

As we were on the West Club level and the Tennessee Terrace, Amanda and I noticed some facility guys on a loud speaker down by the field instructing some kids, who were on a field trip, to stay away from the field. At this very moment Amanda and I looked at each other in a small state of panic. As the couple wandered away from us a bit, we quickly asked each other what we should do. "What if these guys do not know that we are suppose to go on the field for the proposal and they start yelling at us to get off!? What if we ruin this for him? What if, what if, what if??"

Prior to the tour, the guy had called the University for special permission to ask the big question on the fifty-yard line. Amanda immediately made a call to our tour coordinator to ask her if she could make a quick call to verify that we were allowed on the field and would not get yelled at when we tried to walk on the field. Unfortunately, no one answered the phone. At this moment, I felt a little sick to my stomach. We just wanted everything to be perfect for this guy.

Despite everything that was going on, the couple was thoroughly enjoying the tour. We continued through the stadium to the Lauricella Center, the locker room, and then to the media room. Our nervousness was to its peak by this point as the next stop was the field. I took a deep breath, Amanda unlocked the gate in which the football team and we walked through.

As we approached the field, we could hear a lawn mower, low and behold there was a guy mowing the field! Amanda and I could not help but look at each other and go "Are you kidding me?" I asked Amanda to stay with the couple as I flagged down the guy mowing to ask if he would let us on the field for a few so he could propose. Flagging down the mower was a lot easier than I thought it was going to be. When he came over to me, he politely said it would not be a problem and he moved to the side of the field out of the way. Amanda and I were relieved to say the least!

We all walked out to the field. The girl was super excited and the guy was anxious by this point. As she turned away from him to look around, he pulled the ring out of his pocket, but she quickly turned around wanting to take a picture with him. He wrapped the box up in his hand as he put his arm around her for the picture. Once we took the picture, she aimlessly kept turning around looking at the stadium; she could not believe she was there! As she turned around one final time, he was on his knee. Finally, he made his proposal and she said yes! The tour finally had come to an end and resulted in her saying "This is the greatest day ever!"

We left the courts for Las Vegas at about 5:45 a.m. the next day. After a connection in Memphis, we landed in Vegas. Since Sarah is from there, we headed straight to her house for lunch and a little down time before our Pro Am at the Las Vegas Country Club. While at the Toti residence, Jesse had a moment. We had quite the arrangement of food to choose from, including sushi, sandwiches, salad, edamame, and a variety of other things. Jesse, Kata, Jo, and I were all sitting around the table chatting, when Kata turned to Jesse, who had just managed to swallow one edamame (shell and all), and said "Did you just eat that whole thing?" Jesse came back with "Wait what? I thought it was a green bean!" She had never heard of edamame, let alone the proper way to eat it.

After some much needed downtime we headed to the country club. We met many of the members, and caught up with some UT alumni. After a couple of entertaining hours with the members on the tennis court, it was finally time to check into our hotel, The New York New York. We were not there long before we started getting the famous question, "What team are you guys?" The whole time we were there, we were called everything but tennis players, ranging from volleyball, to swimming, to soccer, and most commonly mistaken for the basketball team. It always makes us laugh, when they ask what sport and it says right on our T-shirt "tennis" or when we are carrying our rackets in our hands.

For those who do not know, our hotel is surrounded by a massive rollercoaster. Jesse, Sarah, Jo, and I had quite the experience on it. As we stood in line, I happened to notice a kid from one of my classes back at UT, after yelling "Go Vols!" back and forth it was our turn to get on the ride. For the record, the line was full of Vols fans. It was great! This is my first big rollercoaster ride in a few years. As we went up the first hill, Jo and I looked at each other. I managed to say "I don't think this is such a good idea!" The ride was scary and we (or I did, for that matter) screamed our heads off. As we got off the ride, my heart was pounding so fast for at least twenty minutes after the ride ended!

Kata, Jo, Jesse, and I got a chance to go see David Copperfield one of the nights that we were there. We had great seats, only a couple of rows back from the stage. He was quite the entertainer to say the least. One of the highlights of the show was when Jesse got pulled up on stage and a car appeared right in front of her face. The look on her face was priceless. Her jaw was to the ground! It was great! We had a really good time and the show was awesome.

Jesse's Epic Quotes of the Week:
- "I thought it was a green bean"
-"Are hot cakes spicy?" (commenting on hot cakes from McDonalds)
-"It's like a standard meal at home except all the animals are real" (joking comment at dinner at the Rainforest Café)

Our week was eventful and unpredictable. We are going to have to face many challenges in the next couple of weeks, but there is no doubt in my mind that we can't do it. We will continue to work hard and get better every day. If there is any team that can do it, we can.





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