Sarah SheffieldThis article written by Sarah Sheffield, Area 3 At-Large Board Member

As a kid, I was always at the ball field. Between me playing, my brother playing, my dad playing, and Charlotte’s minor league team, there was always a game to attend. When I got older, I added to my bucket list the MLB stadiums I wanted to visit (which soon turned into as many as possible).

In 2013, I was able to check off my fourth stadium – Nationals Park in Washington, DC. That was also the same year I caught the national anthem bug as a bell ringer. I remember the excitement when I heard the news. (Think Christmas morning excitement!) My registration was in the mail before the envelope had time to dry.

That first year was something I will remember the rest of my life. I was awestruck. Standing on the warning track of a major league stadium with 542 handbell friends was beyond awesome. We came, we played, and we have been back every year.

Fast forward to 2016. Disappointment set in when I found out that I was not going to be able to ring the national anthem in DC this year due to a schedule conflict. Then in mid-July, I had a golden egg dropped in my lap. I suddenly had a free weekend in August, and it just so happened that it was the same weekend as the Area 9 national anthem at Globe Life Park! Baseball AND bell ringing AND a park I’d never been too! What could be better than that?

So, it is time to arrive in Dallas. I was excited and nervous. Was this going to be like what I had experienced before? Will I know anyone? How will we be lined up? Will we be in the outfield or near home plate? My mind was running wild. After check-in, warm-up, and a break, it was time to line up. If you have ever performed, you know there’s always an element of nerves right before the downbeat. Well, there was our chance for the reality to kick in. Then we hear the news – “Let’s Go.” We start the processional out onto to the field. The field comes into sight, and the view is stunning. The stadium is packed with fans. All eyes are on us. We watch for our downbeat, and off we go. We make it through! They like us; they are clapping and cheering! We depart from the field with smiles on our faces, knowing that we will never forget ringing the national anthem for the Texas Rangers!

The experience in Texas was so great that I want to give a shout out to the Area 9 national anthem organizers. Your registration was easy. So easy, I have suggested this to our coordinator in Area 3. Check-in on site was well-organized – very impressive, especially since it was your fist time! One last thing I loved – how there was no pre-set floor plan on where everyone was supposed to stand. That took the stress out of the stadium line up and field entrance. Good job Area 9! Keep up the fantastic work, and I hope to see you soon!