Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Life of a Zags Fan

I guess it all started around when I was 8 years old, even though I did not know it yet. I have watched NCAA basketball most of my life, and at that time was also into the NBA. My favorite player was John Stockton. I was young and knew relatively little about the game, but I knew he made a lot of assists and that I kind of liked his hair.

Fast forward about Seven years, it is a usual Mid-March Thursday in Minnesota. By the time I was in middle school I had figured out that if I pretend to be sick the first few days of the NCAA tournament my mom would let me stay home from school, and I could spend the day watching basketball. This year was like no other, I got my mysterious march fever and stayed home, little did I know this day would end up influence where my life would go. My favorite part of the tournament has always been the Cinderella teams, random schools with names I could not pronounce and seeing the fans going crazy for them. This year, I think it was my sophomore year of high school, I watched one of those teams with weird names and crazy fans pull off an upset and eventually make their way to the elite eight. On that day I became a fan of Gonzaga.

About a year later I was watching the tourney again, and applying for colleges, so I of course checked out Gonzaga, and just fell in love with the school and ended up going there. Met some great people, had so some great times and miss it. Now here I am almost four years after graduation and still a die-hard Zag, if anything more of one than I have ever been. It is not always easy being a Zags fan. Over the years I have seen 1 Elite Eight, Four Sweet 16’s, two second round exits and two first round exists. Some I have seen my team go down just watching the scores flash as they were showing other games, some tourney losses early on did not effect me much and some felt soul crushing. I will never forget Blake Stepp missing a buzzer shot against an unstoppable looking Arizona in 2ot. When I close my eyes I am back in my room and can picture it perfectly. There was one other loss that stands out to me that strongly, UCLA in 2006. We were minutes away from the Elite Eight, The ‘Stache was the best in the country, JP Batista was amazing, and so on, that was supposed to be our year. But in the last 90 seconds of the game we blew a huge lead and lost by two, the ‘stache was on the floor crying. I too was crying as I saw the seconds ticking away, and friend was literally holding me up in the bar I was at.

This year we once again went out in the 16, but I did not cry, I just felt proud of my boys, as I always will. A lot of them will be back next year, and I know one of these years it is all going to gel and a final four run will happen. But until then I will keep on my with obsessive cheering and wearing my Zags shirts with pride. I have some pretty serious obsessions with other sporting teams (see Chelsea, Real Madrid, England and US national teams, Minnesota Twins) but no team could ever begin to rival my love of Gonzaga basketball. So until next year, GO GONZAGA G-O-N-Z-A-G-A.

Just for fun here is my Zags dream team.with no accounting for positions etc, just my five all-time favorite zags. STOCKTON, BATISTA, THE STACHE, DICKAU, and BOULDIN on the bench I would have STEPP, TURRIAF, VIOLET, PARGO, and magic shirt MALLON (don’t know why just always loved him).


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