When I was 14 years old, I saw Mia Hamm in one of her last matches as a member of the United States women’s national soccer team.
Fat, wet tears rolled down my cheeks, chills ran up my spine, and my body shook as my idol stood just feet away from me. I opened my mouth to say something, but no words escaped.
I thought I was starstruck then — but I had no idea what that word meant.
Standing just feet from the president of the United States of America, I quickly learned its true significance.
Nothing could have prepared me for the anticipation that filled me to the brim, air barely escaping my lungs, as music boomed through the loud speakers Tuesday at Fort Hayes in Columbus.
Reporters are supposed to keep their cool in situations such as this, but before I knew it, I was swept up in the exuberant frenzy of the corralled crowd of more than 3,000.
And then, there he was. In the flesh. Right in front of me.
I was overcome with a flood of emotion — happiness, awe, excitement. You name it, I felt it.
It’s a moment I will never forget.
But it wasn’t just the president’s close proximity that had my heart aflutter; it was the spectators’ reaction that made the moment so memorable.
The assemblage of individuals — who had been standing in the scorching sunlight for hours, who were grumbling and groaning and fighting over shaded areas — visibly perked up upon getting a glimpse of their grinning leader.
His galvanizing speech inspired hope among the listeners, a hope that nearly reverberated off the brick buildings of Fort Hayes.
Looking around at the faces of the attendees, I watched the jobless gain confidence in employment, the downtrodden suddenly restored — that kind of mass exodus from negativity is something I have never experienced.
It’s moments such as those that reaffirm my career choice. Had I chosen a different path four years ago, I would not have been standing just feet in front of the commander in chief.
I have the most amazing job in the world.
Alex Stuckey is a senior studying journalism and the assistant managing editor of The Post. Would you pass out in the president’s presence?
Let Alex know at firstname.lastname@example.org.