This summer I embarked on an unusual road trip.
I had no idea where we were going until a whirlwind, three-game Super Regional ended with thousands of fans chanting “OKC! OKC! OKC!”. I instantly knew our next destination. Reporters ran onto the field to capture the special moments between teammates and coaches. For the second year in a row, me and 29 of my closest friends were going to the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Although this wasn't a typical road trip or vacation, the experiences (to say the least) were unforgettable.
Oklahoma City and the entire experience will always be one of my favorite trips. As I gazed out of my hotel room window, I could see a giant mural of the Oklahoma City Thunder basketball players right next to the arena! From trekking to Bricktown Candy Co. for rock candy and gelato, to taking the water taxi tour of downtown, every activity was a new adventure.
Out of all the places we visited, the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum left a permanent mark on my heart. The memorial and museum were built to honor the 168 people who lost their lives on the tragic morning of April 19, 1995 in the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. The bus pulled up and our eyes were immediately drawn to a chain link fence, still filled with memories, pictures, stuffed animals, and notes to the deceased and to loved ones who suffered.
As I walked into the memorial, I looked over the somber reflection pool with two stone walls on each end noting the times 9:01 and 9:03— the last moments of peace before the bombing and the first moments of recovery afterwards. I wandered to the Survivor Tree to sit and look at the eerily beautiful site.
Across the reflection pool stood 168 empty chairs glowing from the bottom. Nineteen of the 168 were smaller to honor the children who passed that day. With a name engraved, each chair represented those who lost their life. The view was nothing short of breathtaking. When you are in a place like this, you find yourself thinking of all the blessings you have and all the people you love most.
Visiting a place like this was a truly moving and unforgettable experience. It is something I will cherish forever.
Until next year, OKC.
Be well, Auburn.
Photography: Haley F.
Haley grew up in the small town of Dunnellon, Florida, and she’s majoring in media studies with a minor in political science. A member of the Auburn University softball team, Haley spends most of her time practicing and working in the community with her teammates.
She loves iced coffee, tough workouts, and binge-watching Netflix on the weekends.
Born into a large family with five siblings, Haley enjoys large get-togethers and making people laugh. She has a secret passion for cooking and is always looking for new recipes and fun things to try in the kitchen.