So after this weekend, one gets checked off the list. Off the bucket list that is…
This past Thursday April 9th I had the honor and privilege of being asked to sing the National Anthem at the Golden State Warriors vs. Portland Trailblazers NBA game. Honestly my favorite NBA team (Golden State) vs the team that was my favorite growing up (Blazers…my mom is originally from Oregon).. so it was a very intense game to start with, not to mention these two teams are super duper good! Oh and I can’t leave out that superstar Steph Curry is a BEAST and has a huge chance of being MVP of the whole league this year. This game was to be one of the biggest games so far this season. WTF.
Once I got the news that I was being asked to sing the hardest song in the world for all these people, I began preparing at home for the past month or two for this big day. I sang Oh Say Can You See in the shower, in my car, before bed, while I slept.. I belted the tune to my 17 month old son pretty much the any time we were alone… I kept thinking just how CLOSE i would be standing to all these superstar athletes, and how they and everyone else in the Oracle Arena would HAVE to be listening to me for those 90 seconds. Like… for real… no distractions, everyone in there is quiet during the National Anthem… Frick Anu, do NOT mess this up.
So here’s how the day went: Me, my bf, my manager Warren and my bassy Jason arrived to the Oracle Arena a few hours before the game and were greeted by the arena’s liaison. The girl escorted us through back doors to the court side seats where we were told to hang out until sound check. A few players (and maybe they were like the shooting coaches?) were warming up on both sides of the court. Nervous level was about a 4 at this point. Taking the microphone in my hands for sound check, I was worried that the slap back from the echo in the arena would throw me off without like an in-ear monitor or something (which I don’t have). But as I started singing, I realized thank GOD the slap back was not bad at all– it was just a nice echo, making my voice sound more confident and brave than I really felt at the moment!
We were told to just cruise for a couple hours in those court side seats and watch the players come in and warm up and stuff. The rest of the arena started filling up with buzzing fans, some VIP and court side, some up in the regular seats. Security was tight, which added to the intense vibe all around me. What was truly amazing was watching Steph Curry just sinking 3 after 3 with a calm confident smile. He would do these miraculous warm up shots in between showing love to all kinds of little kids who were sitting court side for warm ups. Some seemed like they were on a class trip, others perhaps keiki patients in a children’s hospital. Loved seeing the ALOHA that these players had for the kids who showed up early to the game!! Definitely calmed my nerves to see these smiles and good vibes.
As I sporadically glanced at the big clock on the scoreboard count down from 60 minutes to 30 before tip off… my nervous level would slowly sky rocket to like 8. I went to the bathroom to check myself before I wrecked myself, but still didn’t feel SUPER good about what was going on in the mirror… considering I did my own hair and make up like 3 hours prior. Hashtag #need #blowdryer (Ah the fantasy of a traveling hair/makeup team! *sigh*) I did what I could with what I had, and clipped the little foam plumeria flower clip I borrowed from the liaison girl behind my left ear, and said a little prayer. I was guided to the back bleacher holding area to hang for a few minutes before go time. This is where I met a military service woman in full uniform. She told me that she was from Maui, and my dad taught her P.E. at Lokelani Intermediate School back in the 90’s. She remembered me as a little girl, and told me to tell him HI! That local-girl interaction really helped take that nervous level from 8 back to like 6. And then looking over at the group of keiki hula dancer half-time show kids waving at me from the distance also took the nerves down a notch. It was GO TIME.
They guided me past the Golden State Warriors players all in full warm-up mode on their half of the court, and right on to the center court mark in front of the announcer table. There I stood awkwardly for what seemed like an eternity! Feet sometimes INCHES away from these 6-7 feet tall dudes who are living their DREAM. Looking up in all degrees around me were fans who came to WITNESS these guys living their dream. Maybe it was some people’s dream to even BE at this game. IDK, it was pretty intense and pretty inspiring to be right there. Growing up as a coach’s daughter… instead of ballet I was playing tag under bleachers… I sprained my tail bone slipping on oil trying to scare the assistant coach’s son during a high school game. My two brothers names are Michael and Jordan, named after……. you get the jist. Basketball was a huge part of my upbringing, and here I was standing center court about to sing for some of the best players in the world at the moment. It was kind of a big deal! (sorry lol)!
I had a job to do. I had to represent me, my family, and HAWAI’I here at Polynesian Heritage Night at the Oracle Arena. I had to represent my country and my state, and had to represent women…I had to represent my son, and my ancestors, and Mauna Kea… and… and….. and… STOP!! I had to stop thinking about allllll that, cause the PRESSURE was gonna ruin me! Just let it go, girl! Let it go, you prepared for this as much as you could, you gotta just get up there and do this the best you can! Just don’t start too high, and don’t go too fast. Take a deep breath….
“Oh Say can you see, by the dawn’s early light……”
Long story short, the announcer said my name right. I tried super hard to stay “conscious” the whole time and take everything in so I could remember this cray cray moment. I didn’t forget the words (mahalo Jesus!) and my manger and bf and bassy said I did great and they were proud of me. 🙂 I heard some CHEE HUUU’S at the end there, and Kaimana said a couple of the players were clapping like pretty hard… so I’ll take all of that as a success! yay!
Bucket List #31: Sing the National Anthem at a professional game… CHECK!
Mahalo ke akua!
Here’s the full behind-the-scenes-experience of it all!