Friday, March 8, 2013

March Madness and the Love of Sport

About a year ago, I posted why I get so sentimental this time of year. I work for the University of Washington and run into college kids daily, but it’s the month of March that I get so nostalgic for my years at Gonzaga and the running partners I met over a decade ago. It’s the month of March that college basketball is highlighted across the country and I truly miss shuffling into an arena, screaming for 40 minutes, going out to parties, drinking from kegs of Kokanee (Spokane is close to Canada), wearing the same Kennel Club shirt as everyone else at school twice a week, and being obsessed with Gonzaga basketball.

It was a big week in college hoops. Gonzaga reached the #1ranking in the AP poll and ESPN poll for the first time in the school’shistory. And while the polls don’t matter enough to actually win games, it’s a significant moment not only for the basketball program, current students, but also the alumni. There was an excellent article written here about the consistency and toughness Gonzaga has endured for over a decade. In 1999 they gained the national spotlight, but they didn’t stop there. They’ve won conference titles and made NCAA tournament appearances year after year. When I was a freshman at GU, the basketball arena had bleachers and it was just a little bigger than my high school gym. The basketball team’s weight room was not only the same weight room as the women’s golf team (on which I played…yes, that’s correct), but the same weight room as every student on campus.

I’m not going to go into some philosophical rant about how Gonzaga made me a better athlete, though the Jesuits sure did like to make sure we had our share of Philosophy classes. But following this team for over a decade makes me appreciate a Cinderella story. I like the fact that their best player chose to redshirt a year to work on his strength and skills and that another one of their starters joined the team as a walk-on. Following Gonzaga basketball makes me respect the work ethic instilled in athletes that don’t have the fanciest gear or the biggest named coaches, but can still rise to the top if they put in the time and are supported by the community that surrounds them.

Best of luck to the Gonzaga basketball team and fans this tournament season! Thank you for the distraction from the sports and training that consume my life the other months of the year. And thank you to all college athletes for providing new excitement and enthusiasm for a sport you love! Go Zags!

Pictures from @GonzagaU Twitter account from top clockwise: #1 outlined at Desmet Hall,
2012-13 Men's team, Kennel Club, outside the student center enjoying #1 cake

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