A simple question people have asked through the past days, weeks, months, years is, “WHY?”
“Why do you have season tickets to George Mason men’s basketball if you didn’t even go there?” or,
“Why do you like Michigan so much? You’re always saying “Go Blue”, wearing maize and blue, I don’t get it?”
… And my favorite is, “Why on earth are you a Delaware Fighting Lady Blue Hens fan?” “Don’t you know that’s women’s basketball?”
Well, yes, yes, I do! And for you inquiring minds, I’ll tell you why!
I blame First Night Alexandria for my love of George Mason Men’s Basketball. A few years back (post-2006 Final Four run fame) I went to help Mrs. First Night do some visibility on the concourse of a Mason game for the biggest New Year’s Eve party in the area and as we were setting up our table I recognized the announcers voice. I went inside the arena a little more and realized, “yep, that’s John!” Turns out (how I did not know this ahead of time, I will never know!) that the Public Address announcer for the George Mason Patriots men’s (and sometimes women’s) basketball team is none other than the great and fun dad to three kids whom I have babysat for since their oldest was born. (He’s now finishing his sophomore year at Ohio State!) John’s been the announcer at Mason for twenty-four years now. Somehow I became hooked, got looped in with a ticket sales guy that night and the rest is history. I proudly sit in section 118 at every home game with my dear old dad who probably never ever thought he’d see the day that his daughter likes sports, much less enough to buy season tickets and actually GO to games religiously! We have a lot of fun and have met a lot of really cool people along the way. By the way, some nights I go more to hear the Pep Band & see the Director’s outfits. That’s Doc Nix & The Green Machine. Doc, who went to Michigan, small world! Here’s a sample of what you’d see and hear.
What is my obsession with Michigan you ask? Well, this one is somewhat obvious. My baby brother is about to graduate from the University of Michigan just over a month from now (May 4th, to be exact) and while at Michigan for all four years of his tenure, he has served as a Manager to the Men’s Basketball team. Hence, I pledge my allegiance. Block M’s everywhere. Maize and Blue clothing that takes up a whole drawer in my dresser, flags out in front of the house, collar on the family pooch, even down to matching U of M license plates on our cars, we go blue like crazy in my family! Call us the Maize Rage of VA. (The student section is called the Maize Rage at home games!)
Denard Robinson, of Michigan’s football team fame, was fun to watch during Dan’s four years, but nothing compares to the boys Dan worked with and for on the basketball team while in Ann Arbor. They are a-maizie-ng to watch and will all go far. “The Team. The Team. The Team.” They work together like a team, they play like a team and they WIN like a team. Michigan is in the Elite 8 for the first time since the ’93-’94 season. Michigan will face No. 3 seed Florida, (ironically, where my sister went!) on Easter Sunday, March 31st, for the South Regional championship and a trip to the Final Four. The game will tip off at 2:20 p.m. EST and be televised by CBS. Michigan is the only Big Ten team left in the 2013 NCAA Tournament. You should watch, you won’t be disappointed.
Now…. why do I love to watch the Lady Fighting Blue Hens? Well, my dad must take 50% of the blame on this. See, he is the one who mentioned to me a Sports Illustrated story about Elena Della Donne. The story is here if you’d like to start at the beginning:
Inspired & in awe, I took the bait and said, “OK, yeah, sure, I’m game, let’s go see her play.” So last year during the CAA Women’s Tournament we went to introduce ourselves to the phenom that is the 6’5’’ Elena. “E Double D” as some sportscasters call her. (I know this because now I even listen to games on my I Heart Radio app on 1290The Ticket, when they aren’t on TV or the computer.) We road-tripped to the Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro, Maryland and sat in what felt like a horse stable and watched the Fighting Lady Blue Hens.
Amazing doesn’t cut it when describing what we watched. Simply beautiful basketball played by a “tall glass of water” and her teammates. One of which is named Lauren, so I thought that was pretty cool! Needless to say, they won. So, we went the next day, and they won again. As we were walking to the car my dad said “Welp, I guess we better come see them win the tournament tomorrow!” So, we did! Seriously, yes, I went to three days in a row of women’s hoops! I had never seen such jubilation. I got to watch them cut down the net, sport championship t-shirts and hats, it was great! I love a good victory so this was heaven for me. I felt guilty celebrating with them after 1) not playing and 2) never following them until now, but whatever, it was hard not to revel in their excitement.
This year, Elena didn’t start because she had Lyme disease. Oh no! I thought for sure the team would be doomed without her. Nope – never doubt. She’ll be back! And she came back, and boy, did she ever! (Or should I say, girl!)
When the Lady Fighting Blue Hens came to play the George Mason Lady Patriots at the Patriot Center – we were there, in fact, Dad got a whole posse of friends to come, convincing them: “Guys, you’ve never seen anything like this!” A fun night. I event went *solo* to Towson University this year to watch her play there. Made a fun new friend there, Grace, who did the same thing!
When the CAA Women’s Tournament returned to the Show Place Arena this year, I bought tickets to every round of play and we were there for every win. A fun fact: we played UNC-Wilmington in the first round and 5 women started that game and never sat on the bench. Yep, the same 5 ladies played all 40 minutes! No subs in…. ever! How often do you see that?
Very needless to say, it was like déjà vu watching the Fighting Lady Blue Hens put on championship hats and t-shirts that say “Cut The Net” and then watching them do just that! So very exciting!
Next up, they went on to play in the NCAA Women’s Tournament with a number 6 seed. Lucky for the ladies, “the Bob” (their home court, the Bob Carpenter Center) was the venue for the first two rounds of play in this years tourney. They beat WVU handily, they beat the UNC Tar Heels handily, and by handily I mean Elena scored 33 points at each outing and against UNC topped the 3,000 career-point mark! Today, sadly, the festivities ended when they lost to the Kentucky Wildcats, but…. guess what…. Elena scored 33 and surpassed 3 other ladies in the career-high points earned category. Ending her college career with 3039 points, she passed Moore, Holdsclaw and Miller who have 3036, 3025, and 3018, respectively. Elena also shot 11 for 11 (her jersey number) from the free throw line as well, today!
Not too shabby! It was hard to see her try to not break down emotionally with the sideline reporter at the end of the game.
Congratulations on a job very well done, Elena Delle Donne!
Exhilarating to watch you and your coaches and teammates get the job done!
Oh, I could go on and on, but for now, I’ll end with a hearty