OLE MISS

Sellout Sweepstakes Grand Prize Winners

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While there is no doubt Ole Miss's victory over the Texas Longhorns 44-23 two Saturdays ago was exciting for all of Rebel Nation, it might have been a bit more exciting for two very special Rebel Fans.

J.C. and Linda Enlow were the proud winners of the first ever Sellout Sweepstakes Travel with the Team, created this past year to encourage current season ticket holders to renew their commitment for the upcoming 2013 season. Their reward? The lucky duo traveled in style with the team on their journey from Oxford to Austin and witnessed firsthand what its like being an Ole Miss football player preparing for a big time showdown in the Lone Star State.

The Enlows, who are retired but currently run a non-profit organization that establishes schools in underserved countries, were actually in Lima, Peru when Sr. Associate AD, Michael Thompson contacted them about winning the sweepstakes. Hearing them tell the story of receiving that winning call as we loaded the bus behind the Manning Center on Friday morning to depart for the Memphis airport was a perfect way to begin our travel.

Once on the bus , we got to know each other and shared our excitement about the trip while enjoying a boxed lunch from Chick-fil-A. I informed the Enlows that this would be my first ever road trip with the team as well, since I just came on board with Ole Miss in late July.

We arrived at the airport and went through security quickly before boarding the plane, where Mrs. Enlow made the observation that Mr. Enlow and Coach Freeze share a common appreciation for Coke. An observation she was delighted to pass along to her daughter.

The spirit squads, coaches, staff, and players joined us on the plane. Within moments, we were wheels up, heading to Austin.

When we touched down, the flight crew welcomed us over the PA system and wished Coach Freeze and his team good luck tomorrow night.

The hotel might have been the most memorable experience for the Enlows, as they were able to sit in the lobby for hours and meet players, coaches, and other administrative staff as they passed by and congregated in small groups. Personally, I think our travel party enjoyed their company as much as they enjoyed being there with us.

The next day was game day, but kickoff wasn't until 7 p.m. and there happened to be another "Big Time" game taking place, Alabama vs. Texas A&M. As I sat in the restaurant, next to the lobby watching the game with a room full of coaches and administrative staff, including Athletics Director Ross Bjork, who did I see right there in the middle of the crowd? Mr. Enlow. Enjoying the game and conversations with everyone as if he had been working for the department for 40 years.

As game time approached, we had our bags swept and loaded the bus for Darrel K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.

At the stadium, we exited the bus to an enormously loud Ole Miss welcome and quickly entered under the stadium. The team entered the locker room and the Enlows and I took to the field to see what the 100,000 plus capacity stadium had to offer. 

Prior to kickoff, the Enlows visited with personnel on the sideline, and even had a chance to meet the famous face of Longhorn Athletics, Bevo, before getting to their first row seats behind the Ole Miss bench. 

As anyone who watched would agree, the game had plenty of ups and downs culminating with a heroic comeback and a marquee win for Coach Freeze and his team. When the final horn sounded, the Rebels stood on top and following post-game handshakes, the Rebels raced to the end of the stadium where I would estimate nearly 10,000 Rebel fans draped in red were celebrating. Once again, in the middle of all the fun and excitement stood the Enlows, hanging over the front row railing slapping high-fives and shouting praises to the team that would be walking out of Texas with a "W".

It is a general understanding that the return trip home for any team is always better after a win. Being that we didn't get to the Austin airport until after midnight following the game ,it was probably a good thing that this was the case this night, or should I say early morning.

You can understand the plane was filled with some pretty exhausted people, but I have to say the atmosphere was anything but. As I sat in my window seat next to J.C. and Linda, we chatted the whole trip home about the last two days and what an experience it had been. Before we exited the plane and boarded the bus for the last leg of our journey back to Oxford, Mrs. Enlow said to her husband, "I think this outdid our 50th wedding anniversary." Mr. Enlow nodded in agreement and said, "I think so too."

Enlows w Spirit Squads

I am certain that Mr. and Mrs. Enlow enjoyed their trip with the Rebels to Texas and all of the things they got to witness and be apart of. What I am not sure of, is if they know how truthfully enjoyable it was for me to experience my first Ole Miss Football road trip with them. It is something I will never forget! HOTTY TODDY

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