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Glenbrook South softball players cherish chance meeting with President Barack Obama

08/08/2014, 10:00am CDT
By Mike Chamernik | For Sun-Times | @MikeChamernik

"It was too unreal to be real," Titans junior pitcher Natalie Hayes said of meeting the president.

When the Glenview Titans were in the Kansas City area for the USSSA World Series, the team dined at Arthur Bryant’s, a barbecue restaurant one of the team’s parents had been to years prior.

Little did the players, coaches and parents know that they would meet President Barack Obama.

The Titans — a Glenview softball team of 15- to 17-year old varsity players at Glenbrook South, Maine West and Northside Prep — met Obama by coincidence. They arrived at Arthur Bryant’s on July 29 shortly before Obama, who was there to meet with four area residents who had written him letters praising initiatives of his administration. 

After a short wait and security precautions by the Secret Service, Obama walked in. Before getting to business, the president socialized with the restaurant’s customers for around 10 minutes.

“It was really surreal because we’re used to seeing him on the television screen,” outfielder and Glenbrook South sophomore Maddie Yoo said. “The fact that he was there felt so weird because the chances of meeting Obama are so, so, so miniscule, that it’s incredible that we had the chance to.”

A few parents told Obama why the Titans were in town, so he saw the team’s uniforms and greeted everyone personally.

“When he walked into our section of the restaurant, he said, ‘Hey, the Titans are here! I heard you’re here to play a softball tournament,’ ” coach Jerry Stavins said. “There was a certain energy coming from the guy. The tie around his neck was loose, he was very energetic.”

A few of the Glenbrook South girls told the president they were from the Chicago area. He spoke with Titans junior pitcher Natalie Hayes about how softball pitchers last so long and throw so hard, and what pitching might do to rotator cuffs.

“I was just kind of sitting there, I didn’t know what to say at all,” Hayes said. “ ‘This is actually happening,’ was the thing that was going through my head. I was solely focused on him and not anything else going on around. It was too unreal to be real.” 

The team dined a table away from Obama and later took a photo with him. The next day the Titans became Kansas City celebrities — they were featured in the Kansas City Star newspaper and they got to play catch on the field at Kauffman Stadium, where the Royals play. The experience will not be forgotten by the Titans players.

“I think it brought us together, because it’s something we experienced as a team,” Yoo said. “It’s something that we won’t forget, and we’ll remember the people that we were with and our interaction with him, and all the pictures that we took.”

President Obama enters the restaurant

Video courtesy Natalie Hayes

A few of the Glenbrook South girls told the president they were from the Chicago area. He spoke with Titans junior pitcher Natalie Hayes about how softball pitchers last so long and throw so hard, and what pitching might do to rotator cuffs. 

“I was just kind of sitting there, I didn’t know what to say at all,” Hayes said. “ ‘This is actually happening,’ was the thing that was going through my head. I was solely focused on him and not anything else going on around. It was too unreal to be real.”  

The team dined a table away from Obama and later took a photo with him. The next day the Titans became Kansas City celebrities — they were featured in the Kansas City Star newspaper and they got to play catch on the field at Kauffman Stadium, where the Royals play. The experience will not be forgotten by the Titans players. 

“I think it brought us together, because it’s something we experienced as a team,” Yoo said. “It’s something that we won’t forget, and we’ll remember the people that we were with and our interaction with him, and all the pictures that we took.”

This story has been changed to reflect the following correction: 

The headline misspelled the president's first name. It is Barack Obama, not Barak. 
 

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