I don't consider myself all that superstitious but over the last couple weeks watching these young men from Madison play an inspired game I found myself following my own game day rituals. Not so much wearing similar clothes for each game or sitting in my same chair (although I tried), but more for remembering last years run to the Final Four. Or... Not remembering it. See, last year I got sick before St. Patty's Day, went into a coma and missed the Big Ten tournament, missed selection Sunday, and missed every game they played in the tournament. I never knew, nor have ever looked since to see how they fared in the Big Ten tournament, seeds they were or how each game went. All I know is they lost in the Final Four to Kentucky. After I got out of the hospital a couple of friends mentioned they recorded the games for me because they knew how much I love my Badgers. It truly meant a lot. But last summer I didn't really know much that was going on, heck I even had to ask my source of normally-useless-knowledge, Eric Meyer about who won the Masters, who was in the Final Four, who won it, who the Packers drafted and if in fact the Brewers not only won ten games in a row, but we're in first place. His response was, of course, well the Gophers won the N.I.T.
But, back to Badger basketball. I didn't know if I was actually ready to re-live that time, even if it was just a game and I actually turned down invites from these friends to re-watch the game. Each game I felt more and more the sense of not letting my team down this year. Dumb and senseless I know, but I kept holding off on this story in hopes of the season continuing. And they kept wining, and winning. Then the past couple weeks it really started to set in how amazing two things were; both of how the Badgers were playing - including how they took down and revenged their loss to 'unbeatable' Kentucky - but more amazingly how these friends of mine remembered last year for me. Thank you Pete Rohow for the FB message after Saturday's win and all those other friends involved. I showed Sarah the message and I teared up. She didn't know what to say either, other than taking words that I don't use out of my mouth like, 'that was so sweet.' Wasn't even sure exactly why I did, but it really meant a lot to me, and for I guess to how far I've personally come. Thank you to Scott Dreier and Jeremy Staple for giving me continued all-in-fun hard times that if the Badgers started playing poorly that maybe I should take one for the team and 'take a long nap.' Hey, it's ok now :)
Sarah isn't much of a basketball fan to say the least but she was really happy for the Badgers, but more so for me becuase of how much I was enjoying watching these grown kids play. I did our laundry on Friday and set out my favorite Badger shirt for Saturday's game, and then she came downstairs wearing it. I looked at her and said, you know if they win tonight you have to wear that shirt again on Monday. She laughed and said ok. I said, I'm serious and it can't be washed!
I tried staying away from commenting much anywhere about this years tournament as I was just happily, and thankfully enjoying the ride as a fan. I honestly don't really feel like I missed out on last year, it was a great ride for everyone else, I just had a different path at that time. I mean I love sports, but my family and my health was and of course is more important.
For as much as I wanted the Badgers to win, and not just because I hate Duke, and it would have been great for the University and the Big Ten, but becuase I felt like I personally made it through something special, although unrelated, this winter/spring along with them. I'm very proud of their season, their team, the great fans, and their coach. I wish they would have won tonight, but this post would have been the same (since I started it after the UNC game:)
As I try and fall asleep tonight, I will have many tears in both eyes, some from the sadness of losing the game, some just from being proud of [my] team, and the others from the happiness of my life. Congratulations Wisconsin. Packers and Badgers may have temporarily broke my heart, but never my spirit. They have made me, for one, proud.
Thanks you for those unnamed who've supported me, and my sport addiction! 👏👏
P.S. I better not get sick this fall,
Packer season 😎
Oh, double P.S. The FB post I'm referring to right after the Kentucky win simply said, "Cheek Moore
this is for you!"