Stand Up and Cheer
By Anthony Castrovince/MLB.com
The crowd at Majerle’s Sports Bar had to wonder where these green-and-white-clad goofballs came from. Goodyear, Ariz., to the best of my knowledge, does not have an Ohio University alumni chapter. Yet the ruckus that arose with each made basket or Georgetown turnover had a way of enveloping the otherwise inane chatter taking place at 5 p.m. on a Thursday at the local watering hole.
Indians media relations director (and OU grad) Bart Swain had seven of his old college buddies in town, and it was my pleasure to accompany them to root on our beloved Bobcats.
Now, I don’t throw around the word “beloved” loosely. Because if you want to know the truth, OU is a drinking school, not a school in which the students routinely rally around the athletic squads. I’d say that the majority of my fellow OU grads are “fair-weather fans,” except we really haven’t had all that much fair weather to speak of in our sporting history.
However, the gentlemen I was surrounded by at Majerle’s, I’m happy to report, were true fans. Any time you see a guy rocking a Gary Trent jersey, you know you’re in good company. And any time you’re sitting next to a guy who can actually tell you, without batting an eyelash, the name of Ohio’s all-time assists leader (Dennis Whitaker), you know you’re surrounded by Bobcat brilliance.
We were bonded there together, rooting for 15-point underdogs and expecting the worst, hoping for the best, and taking solace in the fact that an OU team that was a No. 9 seed in its own conference tourney even made it to the Big Dance.
We reached a point, with about two minutes left in the first half and OU leading by double digits, where Swain summed up the events of the past hour perfectly.
“Is this happening?”
And it kept happening. It got a little too close for comfort around the five-minute mark, and I’m hazy on the exact details as to how OU managed to hold off the Hoyas (did I mention OU is a drinking school?). But somehow, it happened. What has to rank as the greatest moment in OU athletic history (like I said… not much to speak of here) happened.
So this one’s not just for the OU alumni, as a whole, but for those of us who actually did live and die with the athletic results or, at the least, acknowledge the existence of the teams during our time on Court Street … err… campus.
This one’s for my buddy Brad, who invented “The Claw” (think of the Florida State “Tomahawk Chop,” only much more lame).
This one’s for me, who had to somehow manage to write an unbiased game story for the school paper after Jason Grunkemeyer broke my heart with a last-second three-pointer to oust the ‘Cats from the MAC tourney semifinals in 2001.
This one’s for my buddy Jon, who was writing for the local Athens paper that same night and threw all down-the-middle journalistic decorum aside when he wrote the lead, “Bring me the head of Jason Grunkemeyer.”
This one’s for all of us who are proud to correct people and say, “No, OU, not Ohio State,” when we are asked about our alma mater.
And if I may get a little bit sentimental, this one’s for my buddy Dan Lowe, who is looking down and loving this.
OU? Oh yeah. We are a drinking school, sure. But for the first time in my lifetime, we’re drinking in a tourney win.