OMAHA, Neb. -- They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
And we started off the day hungry.
After months of hearing of Omaha’s legendary Diner, we set off for some pancakes and eggs early Thursday morning.We sat down in the crowded diner at the red counter and ordered our breakfast. Alongside the classic diner decorations – vintage Coke signs, the multicolored jukebox, the checkerboard floor – were signs that the biggest event in town was just getting underway. The waitresses talked among themselves about the diner’s longer hours, a baseball decal hung in the window, a giant, spoon-shaped chalkboard welcomed fans of the College World Series.
There was a palpable anticipation in the air. It was quite literally the talk of the town.
Just as my pancakes and bacon were delivered, we noticed a couple in the booth behind us with Vanderbilt baseball shirts on.
After flying in with the team the night before, Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin and his wife, Maggie, had sat down at the Diner for a late breakfast before the tournament’s activities get underway.
While it’s been three years since the Corbins took a team to Omaha, coach Corbin said the excitement never wanes: “It’s very exciting for the kids and the parents. We never get tired of it. We come every year, regardless.”
“It’s so exciting,” Maggie Corbin said, her eyes lighting up. “I love the opening ceremony and walking through the gear tents. It’s a new group of boys this year and it never gets old.”
Only two players from Corbin’s 2011 roster remain, helping the Commodores defeat Stanford in the Super Regional to advance to the mecca of college baseball.
“I love Omaha. It’s small-town America with small-town values,” coach Corbin said. “The camaraderie is just incredible.”
“You can just feel how much the people of Omaha love putting it on. They embrace it. They make you feel so welcome,” Maggie Corbin said.
“You have to walk the streets at night. Just hear the music and be in the middle of everything,” coach Corbin echoed.
“Each school only has a few thousand fans who travel. So out of the 20,000 fans [in the stadium], most of them are from here, just wanting a good game. They root for everyone,” Maggie Corbin said.
As the Corbins paid their bill and pushed open the glass doors to 12th Street, the Diner’s three waitresses gathered at the counter, yelling “Go, Commodores!” and proving Maggie Corbin’s point – Omaha really does make everyone feel welcome.