Friday, January 16, 2009

Nothing but Net

I like a cool autumn night sitting under Friday night lights and watching strapping young men toss around the pigskin.

But I love a cold winter night spend inside a gymnasium watching strapping young men dribble the round ball.

The Tournament of Champions celebrates it 25 anniversary this year.

Is that possible?  It can’t be.  I was at the first one.

So let me do the math, if I was mumble mumble in 1984, then that would make me mumble mumble.

Oh, yeah.  I guess that is right.


Our little basketball team was honored to play in the first two tournaments and we lost spectacularly in both of them.  It would be many years before my alma mater would be invited back.

But my goodness it was exciting to be on the floor of Hammon’s Student Center.  It was always a thrill to get to play in an arena.  And as mascot, I stood with the cheerleaders and flapped my red eagle wings around excitedly and drummed up as much enthusiasm as I could.

(Not one word about me being the mascot, you hear?  Not ONE word.)

In the 80’s before football grew in the rural towns, basketball was king.  The gyms were full.  The crowds roared. A state championship was always on our minds.

To this day I love coming inside from the frigid outdoors and being blasted in the face by heat and the smell of popcorn. My mouth waters for nachos with jalapenos.  My heart thrills at the blasting of the buzzer and the squeak of athletic shoes on the court floor.

I don’t care where you live; the scent of a high school gym is universal.  One step inside and an adult is transported back to their adolescence in one whiff.

So as the games continue into the weekend, I marvel at the new arena.  I gasp at the size of the concession stands and the girth of the new scoreboard.  

My little rural heart is still awed at the spectacle.

…and thrilled silly by squeaking shoes.

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