An hour before kickoff the Yarbroughs made their way through the Grove at a painfully slow pace. In a sea of powder blue, these Crimson Tide fans pushed forward towards the Student Union with people stopping every few feet to offer what little help they could before they were carried past by the swelling crowd.
Sue and Larry Yarbrough had visited the Grove before during past Ole Miss v. Alabama match-ups. The Yarbroughs are life long Alabama and SEC fans with Sue Yarbrough having received her Bachelors and Masters degrees from the University of Alabama and Larry Yarbrough having received his Bachelors and Doctorate degrees from there as well. The couple then moved to Arkansas where Larry Yarbrough taught Marketing for many years at the University of Arkansas.
“We’ve been to the Grove many times before but Larry’s brother Steve hadn’t,” said Sue Yarbrough. “Steve and his wife Carol came down from Ohio to see the Grove because it was on Steve’s bucket list.”
The Yarbroughs had tried for over eight months to find handicap tickets for Saturday’s game but did not have any luck. Though this would not keep them from enjoying the game day atmosphere.
“We’ve been trying to find handicap seats since January,” said Sue Yarbrough. “But we just couldn’t find any. But we came anyways.”
To make their way through the Grove Sue Yarbrough pushed behind as Larry Yarbrough powered his wheelchair down the sidewalk heading North on the Walk of Champions. Steve and Carol Yarbrough worked to make a path for the other couple but they were struggling to make headway against the continually growing crowd.
Former Ole Miss cheerleader Tyler Jackson was one fan that saw the Yarbroughs struggling and took charge to help them through the Grove. He made his way to the family and spoke briefly to them before he took up position in front of the four Alabama fans and started to make a path for them down the sidewalk.
Other fans from both teams followed Jackson’s lead and moved to either side to make way for the Yarbroughs. Within minutes Jackson had two other Ole Miss fans assisting him and the Yarbroughs were being greeted by passing fans on either side with familiar “Roll Tide” and friendly “Hotty Toddy” cheers.
“I know how hard it can be for anyone to make their way through the Grove on game day, especially from a visiting team,” said Jackson. “So I got in front and decided I would talk to them about their day and their travels while helping clear the way for them to show some Rebel hospitality.”
The Yarbroughs expressed their great appreciation to Jackson but he was just happy to help make their game day a little better.
“At the end of the day I can’t control the crowd or the score of the game,” said Jackson, “but I can play a part in having that family always remember the Grove as it was meant to be remembered.”
By Amy Goodin, HottyToddy.com contributor. She may be reached at argoodin12