So, it’s March 27, 2014. (Yes I’m dating this.) I am tired, exhausted both physically and mentally, and yet I couldn’t be happier. Over the past week, I went on a trip that I will remember for a long time. I joined our beloved Lady Dukes and went to Texas with the JMU Pep Band (Ho!) to watch our girls play their hearts out in the NCAA Tournament. While the final result was not what we were hoping for (we ended up losing in the second round) the experience was unforgettable. To be around the team and hang out with them and to get to know each other was an incredible experience. We got to see a new place that most of us have never seen before in College Station, Texas, and we got to experience food that we have never experienced before, among many other things. With way too much money to spend in a single day on food being given to us by the university, and a roof over our heads, also by the university, you could say we were living the American Dream ideology for a few days.
However, that’s not what I’m going to talk about in this short paper. I’m going to talk about a moment where my naming an athlete was violated at the end of the trip. We, those labeled as fans, create a persona and certain expectations when we name someone an athlete. We expect them to be tough and athletic. We expect them to be almost looking down on the rest of us. Maybe not look down as much as we expect them to think of us fans as one of a lot. Whenever I personally talk to an athlete and tell them they did a good job, my naming them as an athlete makes me expect that they’ll say thank you and move on with their lives. After all me telling them good job is just one of a lot of people saying the same thing right? Well, on Tuesday night after our loss to Texas A&M, I experienced an anomaly to this that I will remember for the rest of my life. We stayed up at the hotel to cheer on the girls after they returned from the loss. When they got back you could tell they were devastated, but they were holding it together. Staying tough, to use that word again. Once things started to disband, and the girls were heading towards the elevator to go to sleep, I pulled one of them aside, one of the two seniors Kirby Burkholder, hugged her, and told her that what she did in our win against Gonzaga on Sunday was magical. With just a few minutes left in that game and us down by four, Kirby stepped up and led a 12-0 run by JMU that eventually gave us the win. When I told her what she did was magical, I just expected a thank you. She did. However, she also started crying. I could tell that what I said to her really resonated with her, and this violated my expectations of her. It was as if, right at that moment, I, one person, told her exactly what she needed to hear. This experience is definitely an anomaly within this power structure. At that moment, the relationship from athlete-to-student felt more like a relationship from a friend-to-friend. It touched me as much as it touched her, and I will not forget it for a long time.
Update on my paper: I have begun writing the paper, but am only about a page in. Still not an easy task but I still have the confidence that I will be able to do it.