Serving Celebrity Guests at 1856 – An Auburn University student’s account of being table side and court side with the ESPN College GameDay crew

Eliza Krodel | Communications Intern

Just hours before Britt Ware donned her cheerleading uniform for the Auburn basketball game against Alabama, the hospitality management major served dinner to the hosts of ESPN’s “College GameDay” at 1856 in the Tony and Libba Rane Culinary Science Center.

The senior from Birmingham, Ala., was preparing to be a server for her first rotation in a food and beverage course, when she learned that the notable broadcast crew booked a last-minute reservation at the upscale teaching restaurant at Auburn University.

Put on the spot, Ware had less than 45 minutes to learn an introduction, explaining the story behind the name of the restaurant and the tasting menu as well. “I went into the night roughly knowing the menu since I had been observing during my training week, but they told me I needed to tell the one part I hadn’t memorized,” Ware said. “That’s where I got nervous. And then they said, ‘Oh yeah, and it’s College GameDay.’”

Ware laughed at how the other servers and instructors were telling her, “Britt, we believe in you. You got this!” Meanwhile, she was saying out loud, “I don't believe in myself.”

Host Rece Davis, along with analysts Jay Bilas, LaPhonso Ellis and Seth Greenberg were a fresh surprise for Ware and fellow server Sarah Meehan. The whole crew was talkative and intentional to engage in conversation.

Combatting her nerves, Ware reminded herself that these men talked on live television for a living. “What they have to do is very intimidating and scary,” she said. Considering it was Ware’s first time serving at 1856, their friendliness soothed Ware’s stress and allowed her to relax. “I know that they've been in stressful situations before, especially with their careers. So I tried to use knowing that to remember that they’re still normal people.”

Others had encouraged her to share with the ESPN “College GameDay” crew that she is an Auburn University cheerleader. A few courses in, Ware told them while pouring water how she would see them courtside at the game tomorrow.

“They thought it was so interesting and said how they were going to have to come find me,” Ware said. “They were so casual and funny and unscripted at dinner. Then I watched them during the show the next day, and I realized they still weren’t scripted. They’re just really good at their job. I thought that their voices were going to change after I had talked with them. When in reality, they're very normal to how they are on TV.”

Ware described them again as friendly and talkative, even to the point that they waved her down at the game to take a picture with her. Greenberg @sethonhoops shared his appreciation by posting a photo on Instagram of the crew with the servers, captioned, “Thank you for an incredible evening @1856auburn!!!”

Ware seamlessly balances a high commitment sport and time-consuming major that have more in common than not. “Hospitality is simply about talking to people,” Ware said. “In both uniforms, I am always having to put a smile on my face…but I want to put a smile on my face because these are things that I enjoy and make me happy.”

The Horst Schulze School of Hospitality Management in the College of Human Sciences at Auburn University exposes students like Ware to enriching opportunities that she will build upon for the rest of her career.

No matter what uniform Ware is in, she can always count on excitement for who she will see next, on the sidelines or when serving.

For more information on the Horst Schulze School of Hospitality in the College of Human Sciences, visit humsci.auburn.eduor