Tag Archives: March Madness

Coming Off The Bench

6 Apr

I forgot … I had completely forgot … but the Duke Freshmen made me remember.

After watching the intensity of the Duke Blue Devils and Wisconsin Badgers battle it out during the Championship Game I was reminded of something. I was reminded of The Madness!

Yes the Blue Devils were crowned kings of The Big Dance, yes they earned it, yes Coach K — a basketball genius — won his fifth title, yes that all happened. Yes. But there was something else.

The Blue Devils were in trouble, down by nine, their big man on the bench,the loss of momentum continuing to go down the drain, I had no idea if my team would make it. Didn’t know how it would turn out. Felt it slipping.

And then that’s when it happened.

Freshmen Allen and Jones, came off the bench and had Gatorade-Commercial worthy moments.

They didn’t come in just to fill time.

They came in to make a difference. They came in with hustle. They came in with heart. They came with guts. They came in  fearless. They came in to contribute and make things better. They came in with 100%.

And that’s what you do when you come off the bench.

And it hit me.

Dude I need to have some come-off-the-bench moments.

Sometimes during the month I let things get to me. I forget about my Deepak-Chopra-Zen-like status. I let the distance of my quest bog me down a bit. I let pint-size people affect my gallon-size heart. I let time escape me. I forget about the importance of it. I forget my place.

Sometimes I forget that I need to come off the bench.

So watching Duke’s Allen and Jones reminded me of that. March Madness gave me something a little extra this year.

Come off the bench people … the rewards are worth it.

Long Socks with Blue Stripes, L.A. Gear, and Aquanet: The Good Old Days.

15 Mar

As I watch March Madness, I begin having basketball flashbacks myself. I reminisce of long socks with blue stripes that stretch out to my knees and basketball shorts that don’t look like Capri pants. Not Daisy Duke shorts …  actual shorts. John Stockton style. I recall the Aquanet hairspray in the locker room and the chicks lacing up the L.A. Gear. I was short, but awesome. However, I wasn’t always awesome … I had my moments. Watching the Madness on TV today, I couldn’t help but remember my very first basketball game … I couldn’t help but laugh.

Picture it: Junior High School. We were the Tigers.



We played some team with white jerseys. I was one of the jeans and t-shirt wearing tomboy chicks, who told kids in her class that she had made the “varsity” team. There’s just one team in junior high. You’re either on it or you’re not. I decided to call it varsity, it sounded impressive.

I had just started learning my Magic JohnsonJames Worthy moves when the first game of the season was scheduled. I had told a couple of friends from Mr. Berger’s history class that I was on “varsity” and that they should come check out the game. They were in the presence of a baller in the making, they didn’t want to miss that. It would be the first game of the season.

So the Mr. Berger crew, with their Pee-Chee folders, Jansport backpacks and classic white Nikes with the red swoosh, stopped by to watch the event unfold. We had the warm-up music blasting as we came running through the gym commencing our practice drills. People were here to see my team kick ass. They were here to see me too.

As the refs whistle blew we took to the court. Excited, but nervous at the same time. Massive turnovers, three-seconds violation, bad shot selections, three-seconds violation, too many passes in one sequence, three-seconds violation, and then not enough passes in the other. Classic dribbling skills that needed improvement were being showcased. In addition, aggressive play helped three players from each team earn two fouls each by the end of the first quarter. I guess we were a little nervous, but soon we got the hang of it.

We went on a 10-1 run, they’d go on a 8-2 run. We’d dominate the boards, they’d get aggressive and start swinging elbows. They hit one long from dowwwwntowwwn. We’d drive through traffic, make the lay-up, and get a foul.

Just as the second quarter was winding down our coach reminded us that we wanted to finish the half strong. Go out with confidence … have momentum that would drive us through to the third quarter and possibly a win. But just when we thought all the silly nerves were behind us … it happened. I did it and I couldn’t take it back.

About ten seconds left. We had a play. Two-points. Just make a quick basket for two points. The other team decided to defend the in-bounds pass. We came closer to our teammate so that she could pass the ball to us. It was crowded on the opponent’s side. Chicks are aggressive when they’re on the court, so I kept fighting for position, so that someone would pass me the ball.

Pass comes in, my teammate is trapped. She’s fighting off opponents’ attempts to clutch for the ball.

Five seconds. The ball comes loose.

Four seconds. We scramble, battling for possession.

Three seconds. I get a hold of the ball.

Two seconds. I hear my teammates scream SHOOT IT! SHOOT IT!

One second. I shoot. I score. AHHHHHHH! I’m getting high fives from only two of my teammates.

I look up at my coach, he’s shaking his head. I look at the boys basketball team who came over to watch us, they have their hands across their face in disbelief. I look at Mr. Berger’s crew, they’re  laughing.

I’m confused.

The other team is smiling.

Apparently, I forgot where I was and scored two points for the other team. They went into the locker room with momentum, energy, and my two points.

I couldn’t believe it. I was mortified.

But nevertheless, I got pats on the back from my teammates while the coach gave me the speech. I got the point. He knew I felt bad, so he didn’t press the issue.

I didn’t feel like coming out the second half, but hey it happens … so I took a deep breath, drank some Gatorade and walked onto the court. I heard a little teasing, but it simmered down as I scored more points, this time in the right basket. We ended up winning that game.

Madness, I tell you. Junior High March Madness.

I still talk to one of the Berger crew. Just one. He actually became one of my best friends,  a brother. I’ve known him longer than any other friend and he remembers the story too. It cracks him up. Although, you hear him tell it now, twenty-something years later, and apparently in his version it’s become the championship game between two basketball powerhouses. And I made the winning-buzzer-beater basket for the other team.

He’s funny. He doesn’t let me forget memories like that … he cracks me up. Ahhhh that’s what friends are for … to remind you of your long socks with blue stripes, L.A. Gears and Aquanet. Because sometimes as a mom, when you’re an adult with all kinds of stress and responsibilities and drama, you need to be reminded that you weren’t always a grown-up … you were a bad-ass baller in the making.

It’s Where Miracles Happen

10 Mar

It’s gut wrenching. It’s emotional. It’s disbelief.

If you’re an atheist, it’s a time when you actually bow your head and pray. It’s a time for rally caps and crossed fingers. It’s the most intense, exhilarating and mind-boggling adventure and your ass hasn’t even left the couch. If it has it’s probably because you’re jumping up and down like Tom Cruise on The Oprah Show, either from frustration or elation. IT’S MADNESS! Not the day-after-Thanksgiving-sale kind of madness, but MARCH MADNESSTHE BIG DANCE … where the insanity begins on The Road to the Final Four.

Most of my chick friends aren’t too in tune with this Madness. I’m one of the few chicks I know who actually watches games for the sake of the game and not so much to pick up on guys who are eating the buffalo wings at the bar. I suffer from the Madness, always have ever since junior high school, before the MC Hammer pants existed.

But passion and long-standing devotion doesn’t get you to win the pool. The upset becomes the downfall of the bracket. Those damn Cinderella-underdog stories jack up your entire bracket. I mean who ever heard of Gonzaga University before John Stockon? Ahhhhhh John Stockton.  😉

The brackets. It’s anybody’s ball game. It’s a time when the librarian-looking-Bravo-TV-watching secretary from accounting wins the pool two years in a row for the newspaper you worked for and you actually work in the Sports Department. I worked for a large metropolitan newspaper for about four years as a sports writer and only one time during those four years did someone from sports win the March Madness pool.

This is why they call it Madness. Anything can happen and anything usually does.

But the one time the Madness came through for me was in the early 90s … 91 and 92 to be exact. Duke. You either love it or hate it. And even though I’m a Pac-10 girl (well now Pac-12) I’ve always been a Duke Blue Devils basketball fan.

Even though it took me three spell-checks to type out his name I love Coach K….Mike Krzyzewski. Let’s just call him Coach K.

He came through for me and all Blue Devils fans in the early 90s. Christian Laettner … I could’ve married him. I was so in love with him, but little did he know of my Guat love. Bobby Hurley too.  They won back-to-back National Championships, but the most memorable game was against Kentucky. It makes the highlights every time. They needed a miracle and it happened. Down by one … the craziest 2.1 seconds of my life.



I nearly had a heart attack from all the excitement.

This is why it’s awesome. This is why it’s the best time to be a fan. This is why you go with you heart. This is where the X-Factor matters. This is where the wish factor matters. This is why you love college sports. This is why they call it MADNESS, get on board. Choose your Cinderella and powerhouse. Fill out those brackets and let the miracles happen.

Giddy up!