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The 2011 Carrier Classic

A Once in a Lifetime Experience

By Atomic HistorianPublished about a year ago Updated about a year ago 3 min read
Photo Credit: The Denver Post, 2011

What is a once-in-a-lifetime experience?

We often have people tell us that some event was a “once lifetime experience.” However, what does that mean?

I have experienced many things in my life that I consider being once in a lifetime, even if they weren’t always good or something I would do again. I was assigned to a search and rescue helicopter squadron on the Ronald Reagan that responded to the 2011 tsunami in Japan.

However, there are others that I will cherish forever. Such as getting to go to the Power Rangers live show for my tenth birthday. Marrying my wife. The birth of my children. Graduating from college. Feeling the validation of being considered a “good writer” the first time I had a story selected as a Top Story.

Looking back at my life, one of the more interesting things I’ve ever had the pleasure of going to was the Carrier Classic in 2011. While no one expected this to be one of only two that ever saw full fruition, I knew when the email was sent out to sign up for tickets, this was my shot to experience something that most people never had. The chance to go to the first sporting event of its kind. To experience something that had never existed before. While it might not rank up there with the first World Series or Stanley Cup, I clutched the opportunity.

Watching Air Force One land at San Diego International Airport

The 2011 Carrier Classic was a college basketball game played between North Carolina and Michigan State. The game was held on Veterans Day, November 11, 2011, on the flight deck of the USS Carl Vinson. The game was attended by President Barack Obama, former NBA players, celebrities, alumni of both universities, and service members.

President Obama speaking before the game

The setup for the game was accomplished by setting up a temporary court, lighting system, and stands on the flight deck of the ship. I do not envy the person tasked with setting all of that up. Because despite aircraft carriers having elevators for taking things to the flight deck, there is no way this could be an easy task.

The selection of service members that got to go was organized via a lottery system. This is the email reference from earlier. While we were still out on deployment we received the email announcing the game, so I took my chance and entered. I hate to admit it, but I had forgotten about the event until I received the email saying I had won a ticket. But like Charlie in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, I was very excited about the opportunity. I will admit that while I’m not the biggest fan of basketball, this is one of the greatest experiences I have ever had in my life.

Author's photo of the game

I got to watch a great game. I got to meet a few former NBA stars. And I got to meet one of my favorite actresses, Roselyn Sánchez, who was there to promote her upcoming movie, Act of Valor.

So, back to my original question, what is a once-in-a-lifetime experience?

For me, a once-in-a-lifetime experience is an opportunity. What kind of opportunity it is, is not always known until one has passed through the eye of the needle. But if the Carrier Classic taught me anything, it is to look for great opportunities when they arise, because you never know what will come of them. Or if you will ever get the chance to experience something great again.

After eleven years, I finally got my memorabilia framed

Thank you for reading my work. If you enjoyed this story, there’s more below. Please hit the like and subscribe button, you can follow me on Twitter @AtomicHistorian, and if you want to help me create more content, please consider leaving a tip or a pledged subscriber.

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About the Creator

Atomic Historian

Heavily irradiated historian developing my writing career. You can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram. To help me create more content, leave a tip or become a pledged subscriber. I also make stickers, t-shirts, etc here.

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Comments (4)

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  • Randy Wayne Jellison-Knockabout a year ago

    I didn't remember this, either, & as big a fan as I am of Barack & Michelle Obama you would have thought I would have noticed! Lots of fun just hearing about it from you.

  • Loryne Andaweyabout a year ago

    Wow! I never knew such an event happened. That must have been so wild. Congratulation on winning the Golden Ticket!

  • Babs Iversonabout a year ago

    Fabulous story!!! Definitely loved it!!!

  • Heather Hublerabout a year ago

    Wow! What an amazing event to attend! Basketball is not my favorite sport either, but I would definitely have tried to attend if given the opportunity. Well written article :) Thanks for sharing!

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