Thursday July 17, 2014 Gators mingle with the stars at ESPYs
Updated: 9:56pm, July 17
Updated: 9:56pm, July 17
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Assistant softball coach Jennifer Rocha had a simple request for her All-America pitcher.
Rocha is a big fan of actor Dwayne Johnson -- better known as “The Rock,” (and soon to be "Hercules," as in coming July 25 to a theater near you) -- and he happened to be on the list of celebrities with whom Hannah Rogers would be hobnobbing Wednesday night at the 22nd ESPY Awards in Los Angeles.
Rocha told Rogers, “If you see ‘The Rock,’ please get a picture.”
Rogers did one better. Way better.
She got one with “The Rock.”
“And he was super nice,” Roger said.
While millions watched the ESPYs, Rogers, alongside UF gymnasts Alaina Johnson and Mackenzie Caquatto, lived the ESPYs. The standout senior trio of student-athletes represented the Gators in being honored for winning the Capital One Cup as the nation’s top overall women’s program. Rogers, who led Florida to its first NCAA softball championship at the Women’s College World Series, and the duo of Johnson and Caquatto, who helped the Gators capture a second straight national title, got the star treatment this week, including a walk down the glitzy gala’s red carpet at the Nokia Theater.
“It was crazy,” Johnson said. “I never thought I’d be a part of something like that.”
The UF party was treated like royalty upon arrival. The ladies were picked up at Los Angeles International Airport on Monday in a Cadillac Escalade -- “with really, really dark tinted windows,” Johnson said -- and whisked about the city.
Joined by their counterparts, Max Lachowecki (soccer) and Garrett McGrath (fencing) from Notre Dame’s Capital Cup-winning men's program, the athletes spent Tuesday visiting spots like the Santa Monica pier, Beverly Hills and Hollywood to pose for photo ops with the cup.
Their driver also took the athletes through neighborhoods of mansions belonging to the stars.
When they arrived at the event, they hit the red carpet for -- of course -- a Gator chomp (left with former UF pitching star Stacey Nelson) and not long after the parade of stars began.
From Cameron Diaz to Kevin Durant to Kiefer Sutherland to Jessica Alba to Richard Sherman to Michael Sams to Clint Dempsey and, of course, the host of evening, Drake.
Rogers got a picture taken with former Arizona superstar pitcher and fellow WCWS Most Valuable Player Jennie Finch. Later, the UF contingent posed with former Gators swimming star Dara Torres, who Rogers joined this year as one of just four in school history to be named Southeastern Conference Female Athlete of the Year.
By the time the actual show was ready to start, the ladies had taken so many pictures their cell phones were dead.
When it came time to leave the event, the Florida contingent went to the front of the theater looking for its transportation. A driver approached them with a question.
“Are you with the Floyd Mayweather group?”
Yeah, it was that kind of night.
“It was all so cool,” Rogers said. “I can’t really describe it.”
Here are some pictures and tweets to help her do the job.
Alaina strikes a pre-ESPY pose.
Hannah with Jennie Finch.
The girls at the Santa Monica Pier.