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Team Spirit

April 1, 2011

The minute the plane landed, I turned on my phone. Ignoring the notifications for new emails and a voicemail, I immediately wrote my sister, Natasha.

“What’s the score??”

I was flying back from Little Rock, Arkansas late last Friday night, following a panel presentation I gave for work. When the plane landed close to midnight, I had missed almost all of the VCU/Florida State game. I was anxious and worried. Earlier, during my layover in Detroit, I had rushed to find a TV to check the score for the University of Richmond game, only to find that they had lost by 20 points. Would there be a similar fate for VCU?

My sister, hanging out at Chef’s bar, told me we were up by a few points. I notified my fellow passengers on the plane, who were all wondering how VCU was faring. We had just landed in Richmond, after all. The city had been positively aglow with not one, but two teams in the Sweet Sixteen.

I sprinted through the airport to baggage claim, cursing myself for checking a bag. Why in the world would I check a bag for a one-night stay? Was having shaving cream, shampoo, conditioner, a nail file and cuticle scissors that essential? Didn’t I realize that VCU might possibly be up by a few points and I would need to find a TV, stat? Never in my life have I been so angry at myself for being high maintenance.

Natasha sent me updates every time a team scored. As I rushed through the airport, I saw security guards and janitors talking anxiously, staring at their phones. All the bars and restaurants were closed, so there were no TVs broadcasting the game. As I walked, I shared my sister’s updates with anyone who cared. Never in my life have people turned to me for the score. More importantly, never in my life have I ever cared about the score.

After grabbing my suitcase from baggage claim, I practically jogged to my car to turn on the game. It took me forever to find the right radio station – I can’t say that sports radio is saved on any of my presets. Those are all reserved for pop music, talk radio and an empty FM station through which I run my XM satellite radio – can’t miss my Cosmo Radio, Oprah & Friends, America Left and CNN, after all.

As I drive home from the airport, listening intently to the game, I realize one very important fact: I don’t know anything about basketball.

As the sportscasters described free throws, fouls and rebounds, I’m decidedly lost. You see, I’ve never liked sports. The only sport that I’ve ever cared two bits about was men’s gymnastics in the Olympics. And that’s only because I had a crazy crush on Blaine Wilson. I was convinced that we were meant to be together. I had this vision of going to Ohio (where he was from) and us falling in love and living happily ever after. Blaine Wilson was to me what Leonardo DiCaprio and the Backstreet Boys were to all my friends. Ahh, Blaine. But I digress.

Prior to this year’s March Madness, I have never watched an entire basketball game in my life. So, the things the sportscasters were describing on my ride home were foreign to me. I may have understood it better if I was watching it on TV, but something was lost in listening to it.

But then I realized that this particular sports station was Rams Radio – and the sportscasters were rooting for VCU. They were not just unbiased announcers detailing the happenings of the game. Then I knew that when they got excited, I had permission to get excited. When they sounded annoyed about a bad call, I could get annoyed too. It all made sense now.

“Why do we keep missing so many free throws!!??” I texted Natasha, while I waited for the attendant to give me my receipt for the parking. She must have had a heart attack when she read that text – who knew I was capable of any sports talk at all?

After finally making it home, I jogged up the stairs to my apartment, tugging my luggage behind me. I turned on the TV – we were in overtime.

VCU emblem

GO VCU!! Picture courtesy of (i.e., stolen from) Wikipedia

I tossed my luggage and purse on the floor with reckless abandon, and didn’t take off my jacket or shoes. All I wanted to do was turn on the TV. And I made it. With just four minutes left in overtime, I watched VCU win by one point in the last seven seconds. In the middle of the night, me, a person who never watches any sports of any kind, a person who has never understood why people get happy or annoyed, sad or mad, at the results of a game, screamed at the TV. I jumped up and down. I called my sister and my step father, saying we HAD to watch the next game together on Sunday.

And then I watched the highlights and the recaps. Because there’s nothing like watching your team win – again.  

Who knew that sports could be so fun? Who knew that when your team wins, you feel like a part of the team, too? I never understood people who talked and yelled at the TV – they can’t hear you! The only time I can remember yelling at the TV was when Hillary lost to Obama, or when the Bachelor chooses the wrong girl (all very important occasions in our nation’s history, you know). I had no idea I was capable of this much enthusiasm – all over a basketball game.

I went to VCU for college, but as I’ve mentioned before, I never really felt like I had a true college experience. I went to class, then went to work and home. I never went to any games while I was there and I certainly didn’t have much school spirit. VCU was just the school I attended to get my degree. I didn’t even buy a school t-shirt until the day of my graduation.

I found it hard to have a lot of school spirit for a school like VCU. Its sprawling campus in the heart of Richmond, with many commuter and nontraditional students, doesn’t lend itself to the typical college atmosphere. And, we have no football team. No football team, no tailgating parties, no hot quarterbacks and no school rivalries equal no school spirit. Or so I thought.

Sunday, my family, friends and I all got together to watch VCU play the University of Kansas. I found myself drinking beer, jumping up and down, pacing nervously, clapping and greatly enjoying the feeling of excitement all around me. Even when Chef had to leave and go to work, because his bar was packed and they needed some help, I didn’t really care. All I cared about was the score. When we won by 10 points, I hugged everyone. It felt like New Year’s.

A guy that I met that day hit on me, and when he did, he said, “You must have noticed I’ve been staring at you all day.” Actually, no. I didn’t notice any such thing. I was totally oblivious to anyone in the room – all I cared about was the game. I was wearing my one VCU shirt I bought at graduation, jeans and sneakers. I can’t remember the last time I wore a simple t-shirt out in public other than to the gym. I hadn’t done my hair that day. I was jumping up and down like an idiot, completely oblivious to my surroundings. And I really liked it. It’s fun not to care what people think of you.

This Saturday, I’m watching VCU play Butler at Chef’s bar just a few blocks away from VCU’s campus. I can’t wait. I even bought Final Four t-shirts for my sister and me.

Hopefully, we’ll win again. Considering I’ve never been into sports, I don’t know what it’s like when you are excited and hopeful and your team loses. Let’s hope I don’t have to experience it so soon, because it might kill my fledgling love of sports.

 But you know what it won’t kill? My newfound school spirit. The VCU team has done an amazing job getting this far, and I’m prouder than I’ve ever been to have graduated from this school.  

Go Rams!!! And happy weekend all!

31 Comments leave one →
  1. April 1, 2011 8:51 am

    You literally make reading fun. Its almost like I really know you in person but don’t. Thank you for making every subject interesting 🙂

    • April 1, 2011 11:21 am

      Thanks, Ashley. This was about the nicest comment ever! I appreciate it.

  2. natasha permalink
    April 1, 2011 8:54 am

    lol- your message asking why they kept missing free throws was priceless. I wasn’t even sure you knew what a free throw was! 🙂
    Good luck, Rams!

    • April 1, 2011 11:22 am

      Haha! I could tell I shocked you the minute I sent it. There was a delay where you were like, “Is this Catherine or an imposter!?” 🙂 Can’t wait to watch the game with you tomorrow!

  3. AZcomm permalink
    April 1, 2011 9:00 am

    Ashley’s succinctly hit the nail on the head. Well done!

    Congrats to VCU and let’s hope they have two more games to play!

    • April 1, 2011 11:22 am

      THanks, AZcomm, and welcome back! Fingers crossed we can enjoy watching VCU two more times!!

  4. 2NewBeginnings permalink
    April 1, 2011 9:09 am

    Go RAMS! Oh yeah, welcome to the world of sports!!! Football next? 😉

    • April 1, 2011 11:24 am

      Thanks! I never knew how fun it could be to get into something like this. I think the key for me is finding a team to get excited about, and then I’ll like sports. So, maybe on the football … gotta figure out who I want to root for! 🙂

  5. April 1, 2011 9:40 am

    Two things…First, I sooooooooo wanted Richmond to win. I used to babysit one of their players…I was crushed. Second, I’m from Indy and a huge Butler fan…but I still love your blog and won’t let the outcome of the game come between us 🙂

    • April 1, 2011 11:27 am

      He Who Laughs Last,
      I wanted U of R to win too, if only for the city of Richmond. Having two teams continue would have been amazing. But it’s pretty awesome that the Spiders got that far in the first place! I think it’s so cool that you babysat one of their players – just think, you contributed to getting them where they are today. Haha 🙂
      I wondered when I wrote this if I had any readers that were Butler fans! You are right, let’s not let this one difference ruin our blogger friendship! I forgive you for rooting for Butler – we’ll just cancel each other’s “rooting” out!

  6. April 1, 2011 10:58 am

    We are routing for VCU, too!

  7. April 1, 2011 11:45 am

    Like many other above me, I just had to keep reading.

    I’ve never followed basketball, and I dread this time of year because I’m surrounded by KU and K-State fans. I’ve never wanted to slam my head into a wall more.

    Just give me my college football season.

    • April 1, 2011 7:12 pm

      It’s funny, I can’t think of ever even noticing March Madness. I remember hearing stats about how much productivity is lost this time of year, and stuff like that, but I never really paid much attention. It’s possible I’m hooked! It’s a fun distraction!

  8. April 1, 2011 1:12 pm

    Catherine, I knew you and I were meant to be best blog friends.

    I grew up doing gymnastics, and not just for fun… I was in the gym 4 hours a day/6 days a week training.

    Therefore, I was MADLY in love with Blaine Wilson as well. I can’t tell you how many photos I had of him, cut out from USAG Magazine, and glued ALL over my notebooks in middle school. And my friends had NO idea who he was. Lol. He was my own personal love affair at the age of 13.

    Haha. Just somethin’ about that guy, huh?

    • April 1, 2011 7:14 pm

      OMG!!! I’m so happy to have FINALLY found someone who loves Blaine Wilson as much as I do! This blog is now worthwhile (if it wasn’t before, LOL!)!! No one ever knew who he was and I have no idea how I fell for him, but I was smitten. For years. No idea why either – he was just so cute, and so cool. He did the floor routine to rock music and I just thought he was the shit. Wonder where he is now?

  9. mom permalink
    April 1, 2011 2:23 pm

    Great job Cat i’m not a sports fan… But I had a ball Sunday width everyone I have my shirt ready and nail will be done go VCU

    • April 1, 2011 7:15 pm

      Thanks Mom! I had fun too – glad you could make it!! Gonna miss you tomorrow 😦

  10. eternallyemo permalink
    April 1, 2011 3:34 pm

    This post reminds me of my best friend. He went to college at UConn and couldn’t care less about the basketball team, the football team, the field hockey team, etc. etc.

    You know more about sports than he does.
    And even though UConn is in the Final Four this year (which apparently happens often — who knew?) that’s not why I’m reminded of him.

    It’s because he’s half-Italian, and his moment of sudden sports obsession came in the summer of 2006, when Italy won the World Cup.
    He watched the game at my house, because he made me turn it on and glued his eyeballs to every play.

    Suddenly he was screaming at the TV for every foul, every missed shot, every bad call by a (clearly biased) referee. And when Italy scored, he nearly jumped through the ceiling. It was nothing like him at all. When his “Paesans” were victorious he glowed like a new father or something. I guarantee that’s the first, last, and only sporting event he has ever watched from beginning to end, Super Bowls included.

    Now, all that said, I have another friend who went to VCU and actually kind of cared about sports, so on behalf of both of you I’ll be pulling for them (and UConn I suppose.) High-five a stranger for me 😉

    P.S. The t-shirt and jeans look is actually kinda sexy to a sports fan. So don’t be surprised if you get more guys hitting on you for the next game!

    • April 1, 2011 7:18 pm

      That’s a funny story! That’s exactly like me! Suddenly I’m so into it and SOOOO happy when we win! I didn’t know I was capable of this. Hopefully, it’s not the only time I get so excited about sports, cause I have to admit, this is pretty funny. Who knew? Those sports fans everywhere aren’t crazy — maybe they were onto something!

      I think you are right about the t-shirt and jeans look. If anyone hits on me at Chef’s bar tomorrow, though, hopefully they’ll be discreet. That could be awkward. Haha!

      GO VCU!!!

  11. April 1, 2011 4:51 pm

    OMG. I love you but I just cannot read that much about the score of a basketball game…

    I had to quit after, “More importantly, never in my life have I ever cared about the score.”

    I’ll try to read the rest later. MWAH!

    • April 1, 2011 7:21 pm

      LOL, Crystal. I hear you! No need to force yourself. Sports aren’t for everyone – Two weeks ago I wouldn’t read this post either!! haha 🙂 Just cheer for the Rams and I’ll forgive ya.

  12. April 1, 2011 9:38 pm

    Your Rams are having a great season. If they meet up with my Cats in the final, we should run some sort of virtual bet, with virtual money. 😉

    • April 4, 2011 9:20 pm

      Thanks, Maura! They did a great job, while it lasted. Bummed out they didn’t make it all the way, but life goes on. I really have enjoyed the past couple of weeks!

  13. April 2, 2011 12:05 am

    ” I don’t know what it’s like when you are excited and hopeful and your team loses.”

    I’ll tell you what it’s like, Catherine: it sucks!! I’m a diehard Denver Broncos fan and it took a few Super Bowl losses over the years, not to mention some absolutely crushing playoff defeats, before we went all the way and won. I remember clearly the gut-wrenching agony of those losses…but then, it made the victories that followed that much sweeter.

    I have no interest in college basketball or March Madness, so what the heck, go VCU!

    • April 4, 2011 9:19 pm

      Mark, Mark, Mark….
      It sucks. Sucks bad. I was bummed out until Sunday afternoon! Thanks for cheering for VCU. At least we had a good run. It was fun while it lasted. I’m hoping this doesn’t take my sports spirit away completely, because it was fun to cheer for something and feel camaraderie with strangers over something as simple as a sports team. There’s nothing like it!

  14. April 4, 2011 1:05 pm

    I’ve been reading your blog since you mentioned it on the Wake Up facebook page a few quite a few months ago. Liked the Cosmo Radio shout out in this post but felt even more connected to you when you mentioned your Blaine Wilson crush … right there with ya gal! Stopped reading right then to comment.

    • April 4, 2011 9:15 pm

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting! SOO happy I’m not the only one with the Blaine Wilson crush. Wow, the powers of the Internet. I’m telling you, when I had this crush, I couldn’t find anyone that agreed with me! I feel slightly less crazy now that I’ve found a few people who agree 🙂

  15. April 5, 2011 12:21 am

    VCU did a great job! I’m happy for you, my team lost pretty early. But, I found that making a bracket kind of gets you into the whole March Madness shabang in case you want to act interested in the future 🙂

    • April 10, 2011 11:28 am

      That’s a good call on the bracket. I may do that next year, just to force myself to get into it again, because it was a lot of fun! VCU did really well. I was bummed at the end, but oh well, it was fun while it lasted!


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