A "Mighty Ducks" meet and greet
WHAT Autograph signing and VIP interview panel
WHERE Holiday Inn, Mansfield, MA
WHEN April 15, 2018
Anyone who knows me even moderately well knows that I'm obsessed with the "Mighty Ducks" movies. (It's even in my Twitter bio, y'all.) So it's safe to say that this year's birthday gift from my boyfriend Aaron was pretty perfect - a VIP pass to an autograph signing and meet-and-greet with some of the cast from the franchise! Scheduled to appear were Matt Doherty (Averman - my favorite!), Vincent LaRusso (Adam Banks), Garette Ratliff Henson (Guy Germaine), Brandon Adams (Jesse Hall), Aaron Schwartz (Karp), and Scott Whyte (Gunnar Stahl / Scooter). It was held in Mansfield, MA, about three hours from where I live in Maine, and happened to be right at the beginning of my vacation week. To prep, I got a manicure in original Ducks jersey colors, because duh.
I booked a room at the hotel where the event was taking place and went down the night before. The event started at 10am and I didn't want to risk being late or missing anything! The morning of the event, I went down to have breakfast in the hotel lobby and was seated, to my surprise, right next to Brandon Adams (of both "The Mighty Ducks" and "The Sandlot")! I didn't interrupt him while he was eating breakfast, but later when he walked by I said hi and shook his hand. He was really nice and friendly! He's also been really busy because it's the twenty-fifth anniversary of "The Sandlot" and the cast has been making some appearances at ballparks all around the country.
Because of check-out times, I had to check out of my room at the hotel just before the interview panel (the first event of the day) began, and on my way through the lobby to the front desk I noticed that the guys - all six who I'd be meeting soon - were sitting in the hotel restaurant eating breakfast together. It was, honestly (and super cheesy, I know) heartwarming to see that! Grown-up Ducks, just hangin' out, catching up, with me sobbing thirty feet away. (Just kidding, I didn't sob - but it would be believable if I did, because I'm me and they're the Ducks.) It was like a real life "where are they now?" of my childhood catching up to me in the best way.
I somehow calmly checked out of the hotel and then made my way to the room where the VIP part of the event would take place. The VIP interview session was limited to only 15 fans, and it was very intimate -- just the six guys and a moderator with us in a small conference room. Those of us in the room waited nervously and excitedly - the girls sitting next to me had flown all the way from St. Louis! Fans after my own heart.
Suddenly the guys walked in - casual, joking around, introducing themselves to everyone. It was so surreal. I can't even count how many times I've watched the "Mighty Ducks" movies and quoted these guys' lines. In 2012, on the day the world was supposed to end - remember that? - I had my friends come over, and I had a Ducks jersey shirt for each of them with their applicable character, and we had a "Mighty Ducks"-themed party. When I drove through Minnesota nearly a decade ago, my friend Alex and I made sure to stop at several locations from the films - including the Mall of America and Mickey's Dining Car. My love for the Ducks runs deep and here they were, right in front of me, saying hey, like we were old friends. In the pre-interview trivia game, I answered a question right and won a signed photo of Vincent! (The question was about Wolf Stanton's nickname in "D2" - The Dentist, duh!)
Scott, Aaron, Vincent, Garette, Brandon, and Matt settled in at the tables at the front of the room and talked about some of their favorite behind-the-scenes moments from the films, as well as some other projects they'd worked on. Some highlights:
There was a joke about Matt being the "coffee stirrer" of the group - the one who gets things going when the group gets together.
They all loved the hockey camp they trained at before filming the movies, and also had really fond memories of playing pick-up hockey during lunchtimes on set. Matt mentioned how thankful he felt that those in charge made sure they had good experiences, since they were kids working and still needed some normalcy.
On Emilio Estevez's first day, he busted the kids out of school and took them to a go-kart place he'd rented out for them. Apparently Emilio was a prankster on set, which he'd learned from Anthony Hopkins (!). Matt says, at the time, that Emilio was "the biggest movie star in the world" to them.
The film was originally called "Bombay" and was much darker, before it became a Disney family film.
Matt and Brandon used to be roommates, and Vincent and Garette have always been close.
Brandon doesn't know why he wasn't in the third movie.
Aaron recalls that Ben Stiller was pretty method during "Heavyweights" - very hardworking and committed.
When Aaron recently worked on "Guardians of the Galaxy 2" he asked Kurt Russell a million questions about "Tombstone."
Scott does a ton of voice acting now, and did a few impressions for us - his Homer Simpson is incredible.
Scott also was almost in "D3" as a weird stoner-type character named Crazy Dave (in addition to his role as Scooter, which was created for and named after him) but good ol' Crazy Dave was eventually cut from the film.
Marc Maron had a very small part in "D2" that ended up on the cutting room floor - and it was his SAG card role! He was friends (and one-time roommate) with Steven Brill, the writer.
As part of the VIP package, the guys had signed "Mighty Ducks" and "D2" posters, and then we got to chat with them and take group photos. Matt noticed my Ducks colors manicure - awesome. The guys were so nice and showed so much interest in the people who were there - Vincent and Garette talked to me about being a teacher, and I had a chat with Matt about Northwestern University (where he and my boyfriend both went to college - and I'm a new fan, having attended several NU bowl games over the past few years - including December's in Nashville, even though I'd broken my foot 12 hours earlier - yikes, haha). Scott was super friendly and even wrote "BEST TEACHER EVER" on my poster, which is amazing - definitely replacing my current classroom poster with this one! It was very cool to just have conversations with these guys and they were incredibly kind, friendly, warm, and cool - everything you'd want when you meet someone whose work means a lot to you. They also happily took selfies with each of us:
I was so stoked on the whole thing. I got a few more autographs on individual photos that the guys personalized ("You lost it for yourself!" from Scott, "Here comes my heater" from Brandon, "Quack! Ducks fly together!" from Matt) and then the whirlwind came to an end. Sort of - Scott posted a selfie with me on his Instagram later. :)
DUCKS FLY TOGETHER! <3