KNOXVILLE (WATE) – An East Tennessee mom received a Mother’s Day surprise on a flight delayed for overfueling. It turned into a weekend to remember, partly thanks to a University of Tennessee football coach.
Hammond says the plane was overfueled and the airline asked six passengers to voluntarily get off the flight, in return for a flight at a later time and a voucher.
“Of course my heart sank. There’s no way I’m going to get home in time. There’s not going to be. Maybe one person, but not six.” said Meridith Hammond, who was flying from Atlanta to Knoxville.
Hammond said she noticed the University of Tennessee Power T on the bag of a man nearby. After texting her husband, she realized that man was quarterbacks coach Mike Canales.
“He said, ‘You know I’ve been gone for three weeks. What’s another couple of hours?’ Knowing who he was at that point, I said that’s a really nice gesture. I thought, I just want to say thanks. Thanks for being a good guy, thanks for taking one for the team.” said Hammond.
She said he was the first of six to volunteer to leave the plane. The Englewood, Tennessee, resident said she rarely uses Twitter but decided that would be the best way to thank Coach Canales for volunteering.
She didn’t think anything of her tweet until nearly a day later, when her husband Kevin told her she got a reply from Canales himself.
“Happy to represent the University as an ambassador and that’s what I thought I was doing.” said Canales.
Canales said at the time, he didn’t think for a second about volunteering his seat for a voucher. He said it’s what any Volunteer would do.
“I’m so blessed and lucky to be where I’m at coaching for Coach Jones. I just thought that was the way he would want us to represent our program so that’s what I did.” said Canales.
Even Canales says “you couldn’t have written a better script” to describe what happened next. Hammond’s 8-year-old son Bryce hit his first home run during the game she nearly missed.
“After he ran the bases, he kind of pointed to me and gave me that, ‘This one’s for you Mom.’ It was really sweet.” said Hammond.
Hammond says going to UT games is a family event. She is a UT graduate and says her family loves all UT sports, especially football and basketball. Her son Bryce has a Vols themed room, complete with a Tennessee orange wall.
She says she never expected the tweets to go viral, nor did she expect a reply from the coach. She says what she loves about the story is the lesson for her kids.
“It gives you a good opportunity to teach your kids, ‘Hey do the right thing. The right thing is the right thing. The good guys don’t always finish last.'”