When Moscow music teacher Nikki Crathorne discovered the sweepstakes she had entered would involve a contest at a University of Idaho football game, her first instinct was to try to cancel.
Worried that the display would be embarrassing, or that she may not be as athletic as some of the other contestants, she said she was as surprised as anyone when she ended up winning the $5,000 trip to Disneyland.
“I entered it just thinking, ‘They’re going to pick your name out of a hat and if you win, you’ll be notified,’ ” Crathorne laughed.
During the contest, at halftime of the Nov. 16 Kibbie Dome matchup between the Vandals and Sacramento State, Crathorne and two other competitors were tasked with throwing — or rolling — footballs from 20 yards away and the person whose ball ended closest to the bullseye was declared the winner. She said that once she decided to participate, she spent the three days preceding the event practicing her form with various sizes of ball.
Crathorne, who works at St. Mary’s Catholic School in Moscow, had some help “training” with her son, Jordan.
“We went and practiced up at the (UI’s) sprint-turf and were just trying to figure out the best strategy,” Jordan said. “The P.E. teacher (at St. Mary’s) actually suggested she roll it.”
“We discovered that, you know, if you throw it normal it can bounce anywhere and if you just throw it under hand, it can just bounce anywhere,” Nikki Crathorne said. “But our P.E. teacher was going, ‘If you can have it go end over end, then it actually goes in a straight line,’ so we started practicing kind of bowling it.’”
Crathorne said when the time came to step out on the field, her first two practice throws left much to be desired.
“I’m thinking ‘this could be my new most embarrassing moment,’ ” she said.
When the dust settled, Crathorne was awarded the $5,000 trip and according to those close to her, few are more deserving of a vacation. In addition to teaching music classes to preschool through eighth grade at St. Mary’s, Crathorne also is an assistant director of the Vandal Marching Band which practices halftime shows five days a week. Additionally, she is the director of the new Archimedes Center for the Arts, located in the convent across the street from St.Mary’s, where she orchestrates two other band projects open to all children in the city.
St.Mary’s Principal Jennifer Beller said Crathorne goes far beyond the call of duty when it comes to teaching her students and is largely responsible for ambitious musical productions the school puts on every year. Beller said the children of St.Mary’s have performed adaptations of “Aladdin,” “Beauty and the Beast” and the Christmas comedy, “Elf.”
“Nikki’s been here for basically almost 30 years doing this,” Beller said. “The musicals started as … something relatively small and they’ve grown into this pretty sophisticated thing. It’s phenomenal what we do here.”
Even while on an all-expenses-paid vacation to the magic kingdom, Crathorne said she’ll have work on her mind. She said there are few places that create as dazzling a spectacle as the Disney theme parks.
“You get to see, even just within the parks, how they set the scene for every area and how they do costumes, how they do props — we’ve learned so much,” Crathorne said. “I get a lot of ideas from going there … I mean, I like the rides, those are great too and they’re an experience, but even on the rides you’re seeing how are they drawing you in.”
Crathorne said the $5,000 prize can be used to purchase plane tickets, hotel rooms or admission to the parks itself and even bringing guests. She suspects she may have enough left over for a second trip. She said she is currently planning to bring Cherice Cameron, a fellow UI assistant marching band director, and her son, Jordan, on a trip, though she has yet to set a date. Even though she plans to siphon off a little inspiration for later school productions, Crathorne admits the trip will be a welcome reprieve from her normally busy schedule.
“Sometimes your brain has just had enough, and going to Disney is the best place that I go because it takes at least a day to calm down your thoughts and then you can just take stuff in,” she said. “It does catch up with me sometimes and that’s when a trip is perfect.”
Scott Jackson can be reached at (208) 883-4636, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.