Aiden’s Big Bloomington Adventure

We drove to Bloomington yesterday for Aiden’s first-ever participation in Solo and Ensemble. We had a little bit of extra time after his performance, so I took him over to the athletic facilities at IU. My original hope was that Cook Hall would be open and we’d be able to take a quick tour of the shrine contained within. Unfortunately, Cook Hall is only open to the public from 8 to 5, Monday thru Friday. Since this was a Saturday, we were out of luck. That didn’t stop us from putting our faces to the glass in an attempt to see the national championship trophies. We did manage to see hints of a couple, but didn’t get to bask in their glory as I had hoped.

Somewhat disappointed, we walked over to Assembly Hall. Since we had already checked the doors, we knew we wouldn’t be able to go in. But that didn’t stop us from pressing our faces against the glass again. This time we caught glimpses of the Hall of Fame. As we were still peering through the entrances and about to walk to my car, an SUV pulls up. The driver gets out with two young boys and walks towards the back of his vehicle to get out a Big Wheel and a small bicycle.

“Hold on,” he says to us, “I’ll let you in.”




I realize visiting Assembly Hall might not be a big deal to people in Bloomington. This, however, was a big deal to us. It was an especially huge deal to Aiden. I thought he was going to explode from excitement as we entered the hallowed hall of hoops. I thanked the gentleman as he took his boys up the ramp with their bikes. What a perfect place to have your kids ride their bikes!

We walked around the outer rim of the Hall, looking at the artifacts and occasionally checking the doors to see if we could see Branch McCracken Court.

Indiana University Athletic Hall of Fame at Assembly HallI finally found a door that was closed, but wasn’t locked. I let Aiden peek his head in. From the look on his face, you would’ve thought I had just witnessed a game-winning shot. We didn’t go in, though. We weren’t sure if we were allowed to go in or not. And since the door was really closed and there were people working on the court, we decided to keep walking around.

But then we found it. Doors were propped wide open. It was almost like it was a sign from God that we should enter. Being one who wants to answer God’s call, we walked into the seating area of Assembly Hall.

Inside Indiana University's Assembly Hall

Banners at Indiana University's Assembly Hall

I think this one with his silhouette against the court is one of his favorites:

Aiden and Branch McCracken Court at Indiana University's Assembly Hall

After hanging out for a while, we decided it was time to see if we could find a way to walk on the court. So we began our quest. As we were walking around, we were greeted by one of the Track and Field coaches. He asked if we needed help with anything. I asked him if there were places we were not allowed to enter. “They do a pretty good job of locking up the places they don’t want you to go.”

There you go. Permission granted to walk on the court (as long as there were no locks in our way).

So we did.

Aiden and the 5 National Championship banners hanging at Indiana University

Branch McCracken Court at Indiana University's Assembly Hall

“That’s it! Right there! That’s where Christian Watford made that shot. Watford for the win!!”….

After hanging out on the court for a while, we decided we shouldn’t push our luck. It was time to leave. But the adventure wasn’t over. No. It was far from it.

Remembering that they lock things up when they don’t want people to go in, we walked through the gates to the football stadium.

Indiana University's Memorial StadiumThis was my first visit to Memorial Stadium. It’s a pretty cool facility. We took a while to look around and soak it all in.

Checking out Memorial Stadium at Indiana University

The giant scoreboard at Indiana University's Memorial Stadium

The Rock at Memorial Stadium at Indiana University

Yes. That’s The Rock in the background. No. We didn’t go touch it. I figured he needed to save that special occasion for when he plays his first game for IU. That’s right. I might have unintentionally gotten him to verbally commit to playing both basketball and football for the Hoosiers. Sorry, Christy. We have a lot of work to do if we’re going to convince him to go to Milligan now.

Standing on the football field at Indiana University's Memorial StadiumSo what started off as a not-so-fruitful visit to Cook Hall turned into a pretty memorable experience for Aiden (and for me, too). It definitely made the trip to Bloomington worth it!

Now he’s begging me to take him to a basketball game. And a football game. Of course, I’d love to be able to do that. Might take a while to be able to make it happen though.


did I mention how he did in his Solo and Ensemble performance?

Aiden and his gold medal from Solo and Ensemble He earned a GOLD. He also had some pretty big compliments from the judge. Not too shabby, huh?

Not sure if we’ll be able to match this weekend any time soon. But I’d sure like to try!

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Howdy. I'm Matt Todd. My wife and I have four kids and a dog,. I'm passionate about orphan care. I'm a die-hard fan of the Evansville Aces, the Indiana Hoosiers, and Star Wars. I'm trying to live life by the Todd family motto: "It behooves us to live!"

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Melissa Dixon

On Facebook I encouraged Christy not to bring the whole famil to Solo and Ensamble because it was boooorrring and I’m glad I did! How awesome that you and Aiden had a day neither of you will ever forget!


Yeah. I’d forgotten how crazy and chaotic Solo & Ensemble can be. Definitely not a family-oriented event. Not sure if we would’ve survived it with everyone else there. Thanks for the reminder! 🙂