One of my biggest fears about going to a large university from a small high school on the coast of Maine was that I would lose the opportunity to be an important contributor to the student sports section, something that I was known for in high school. I was “that guy” during my senior year; the one who painted his chest at every game, who passed around sheets with original chants specifically designed to mentally bring down the opposing team, and the one who gave inspirational speeches to the entire student section before games. Rallying my fellow students and helping out my friends on the team from the bleachers are some of my fondest high school memories. I was worried that a school a nearly 17,000 students would not have much of a need for a sports nut like myself. What I quickly learned, however, was that if you love the Huskies enough, there is always a place for you on the front line of the student section.
A few of my good friends and I quickly worked ourselves up the student section ranks in the early part of last year’s legendary basketball season by showing up embarrassingly early for games, completely sacrificing our vocal cords for Kemba and Company, and by contributing in debates about whether or not this team was good enough to win the championship (with us always fervently, and accurately, contesting that it was going to happen).
My ascension as a true college sports fan culminated on April 4th. That was the day that the Huskies squared off with Butler in the national championship game, and possibly the best day of my life! My day began with a 4:30 a.m. wake up call, when I joined ten of my friends and roughly 5,000 other students in packing Gampel Pavilion, our home basketball court, because The Today Show was on campus and shot live from Gampel for a minute or two. We all felt that, although the team was all the way in Texas, it was a good way for us to show them that back in Connecticut the whole school was rocking in anticipation for the big game that night, as always as possibly instill a little bit of fear in any Butler fans who may have happened to catch the segment.
After bearing down and sitting anxiously through my classes, I was back in line outside of Gampel at 5:00 p.m, where the game was to be broadcast for the students who weren’t able to make the trip to Houston on three huge screens at 9:00 pm. During the hours that I stood outside, with my chest painted as the “U” of “UCONN,” I was interviewed by three news stations and two newspapers! When the doors finally opened, we quickly assumed our seats in the front row of 10,000 students who turned Gampel into a madhouse for the next two hours. Throughout the entire game, you could not hear yourself think; the entire campus was absolutely electric. When the final buzzer sounded and the Huskies assumed their rightful position atop of the college basketball world, I was one of the first students to storm the court and start a giant mosh pit that would eventually spread into the streets and last well into the night.
The moral of this story is that even if you come from a small high school, if you are truly passionate about something, you will have no problem getting involved with it and becoming a leader here at UConn. We have one of the most spirited and exciting campuses in the country, and it is something that anyone would love to be a part of. See you all in the student section!