Michael Eigenbrode was on his way to elementary school in mid-April with his father, Ryan, who works as a sports information director for Loyola University Maryland. The then-second-ranked Greyhounds lacrosse team was scheduled to play Boston University the next day, and the team had an extra plane ticket because of an injured player.
Instead of going to school, Ryan told his 8-year old he'd be making the trip with the team that morning. Ryan caught the entire exchange on video, which he posted to his Facebook page.
"Yay!" Michael yelled before hugging his father, who has held his position in the Loyola athletic department for 12 years.
Ryan even surprised his son with a new green tie to match Loyola's school colors and fit the team's travel dress code.
"I love this," Michael said as he held up the tie.
"He traveled with the team and ate meals with them," Ryan said. "The folks at Boston University were great. They made him press credentials and a name plate for the press box."
Loyola didn't play well and lost, 18-11, to the Terriers April 13.
"They need to get rid of that game," Michael told his father immediately after the loss. "Put it behind them. They need to play better the next time."
Ryan says Michael knows who is playing well and what needs to happen. "He has good insights," Ryan said. "He also knows how special this is."
Michael plays baseball for the Towson Recreation Council and loves the Orioles and Loyola. His favorite subject is math.
"I like it because it is easy and hard at the same time," he said.
Michael has spent most of his childhood with the Loyola lacrosse, basketball and volleyball teams. For the lacrosse team, he will do anything to help, like running stats, helping with the water bottles and doing anything to assist the team.
"We love having Michael around the program," head men's lacrosse coach Charley Toomey said. "He's a great kid and to see him light up around our players is really fun to watch. What I enjoy most is giving Ryan the opportunity to spend time with his son. Ryan is a great father and to have my team see that wonderful father-and-son interaction is really what it's all about."
Michael spends the most time around his favorite players, co-captain and 2018 Jack Turnbull Award winner Pat Spencer and junior defenseman Alex Johnson. They play catch on the sidelines and talk.
"Michael is the first guy I give a high-five to after walking off the field," Spencer said. "He is a 'Hound for life and has made my experience much brighter and more enjoyable. He is 100 percent more mature than I was at his age. We do, however, share the same interest in sports. He is a watcher and learner, which is extremely important to understanding the game."
Those sentiments were echoed by Johnson.
"He is a great kid and always has a smile on his face whenever I see him," Johnson said. "Whenever Michael shows up at the field, I always like to play catch with him because I know doing small things like that can have a big impact on kids as they grow up. Also, I just wanted Michael to feel as included as possible within our team."
Johnson is also a little jealous.
"I'm actually kind of jealous that Michael gets this experience of being around a Division I lacrosse team as he grows up," he said. "I will also say he is always the best-dressed person at our games."
Photo Credit: Steve Vaikness
Issue 254: May 2019
Originally published May 15, 2019