My life revolves around sports. That’s no secret.
I’ve turned down hanging out with friends to watch Cubs games. During fall semester, my Sundays are filled with football. March is typically my favorite month because baseball starts and college basketball is on TV.
It’s why these last two weeks of quarantine haven’t been fun. Isn’t it crazy to think how things were two years ago at this time?
I was one of seven Loyola student reporters in Atlanta covering the Loyola men’s basketball team’s magical run during March Madness. Life seemed so much simpler then. We’d go to the arena for the game one day, write a story, go for media availability the next, write a story, go to the game the next day, write a story and go home. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Now, I sit here at my dining room table in my small-town home of Dwight laying out The Phoenix as we practice social distancing. The COVID-19 pandemic is raging on, meaning we can’t watch March Madness and MLB Opening Day isn’t going to happen March 26. I can’t watch the Bulls or the Blackhawks — not that I’d necessarily want to — and I find myself paying attention to NFL free agency, which I usually don’t care about. Two weeks without sports is a long time for people like me.
But damn, that run was fun, wasn’t it?
I’ve been feeling more and more nostalgic about it as I wrap up my senior year — even though my graduation likely won’t be until August due to COVID-19. That was sophomore year. I couldn’t even buy a beer. Whenever we’d head to the hotel bar, I’d get a Dr. Pepper while everyone else had their beverage of choice.
Donte Ingram’s game-winner in Dallas March 15, 2018, started it all, when he pulled up from the logo at the American Airlines Center and hit “the shot.” Clayton Custer followed two days later with a miracle jumper that rattled around for an eternity before hitting the bottom of the net.
Off to Atlanta we went. Marques Townes continued the theatrics March 24 with a huge three-pointer with seven seconds left to seal another upset victory over the University of Nevada. I guess this is where I say we all started thinking “Final Four” when we saw Loyola would be facing Kansas State University in the next round instead of the University of Kentucky.
The Ramblers rose to the occasion, and we headed to San Antonio. What I’d do to do it all again.
We couldn’t turn around without hearing the CBS Sports college basketball theme song. When something big was going on in a game, we’d gather around the TV with the biggest college basketball reporters in the country. It was truly the thrill of a lifetime.
It’s almost hard to believe that was already two years ago. I, along with a majority of “Blers Mafia,” remember each game like it was yesterday. Instead of being a spry sophomore in college growing as a student reporter, I’m now a senior in search of a job — a search that’s gotten a little more complicated with social distancing in place.
But when they close down the bars, restaurants and even churches in a small town where that’s all you can really do, you can’t help but reflect. For me, I’m reflecting on what a crazy four years it’s been — especially since it’s winding down rapidly.
What I’d do to go back to that three-week stretch in March 2018. It was the most fun I’ve ever had.
Time to start that job search, eh?