“Go, ’Cats!” Wildcats v. Catamounts: MRRROOWWWRRR!
Even a sometime sports fan like myself can’t help but get pumped by a game like the Wildcats’ last night. But I must defer to a fellow writer to do the thing justice.
My collegial College Relations colleague and departmental poet laureate James Hogan is a Western Carolina University Catamount alumnus, and he loves him some Davidson Wildcat action none the less for it. James was happily, disconcertingly, giddily, gloriously torn and divided going into the game. Not enough to pull a Steph Curry and sew two T-shirts together, but enough to wear a Davidson tie and a WCU pin. I simply could not imagine how he felt during the game itself. So, I asked him. Here’s what he had to show and tell. You are there! Enjoy, again….
I have to say this first: I’ve never seen a basketball game in my life like the one I witnessed first-hand in Asheville last night. Davidson versus Western Carolina, Wildcats versus Catamounts. In my case, Employer versus Alma Mater.
I’ve worked here at Davidson for four years now—just as much time as I spent in Cullowhee. “Must be hard for you,” people said to me yesterday, ribbing me about who I’d pull for when it came down to it. “Isn’t this a win-win?” others asked. Well, it was and it wasn’t.
I love Western, probably the same way so many love Davidson. They were the dark horse of this SoCon tournament, and last night they rode in with a purple-clad cavalry the likes of which I’ve never seen before.
But as soon as the tip-off was past, and I watched Clint and Jake and J.P. and De’Mon and Chris and Nik and all the rest of the gang push forward, I suddenly realized this wasn’t a win-win. I was pulling for Davidson, period. It was a guttural response. I couldn’t help jumping out of my seat and pumping my fists in the air with every shot or Wildcat rebound.
I’ve sat down with Davidson alumni hundreds of times, and on occasion people ask what it’s like as a non-alumnus working at their alma mater. I’ve always replied that it was like marrying into a big, wonderful family. I am not a blood relative, but these days I’m almost kin. I know all the family traditions. I can call the names of the crazy uncles. And I know the family song.
I’ve never seen a game like last night’s. Everybody—Wildcats, Catamounts, fans, referees—was running on fumes as the second overtime wound down. But even in such exhaustion, I’ve never felt more honored to pull for Davidson. Looking around the arena at other ’Cats fans, I knew that this was my family now. This felt so good. (So good! So good!)
It’s time to go dancing again.