Sunday, April 4, 2010

March Madness

March Madness comes every year to those who love college basketball. But it's not every year the team you follow goes to the NCAA tournament and even less often that you see your team make it to the Championship Game. I count myself lucky to live in the same town with Duke University. I hate to admit that when I moved to the area from New York over 18 years ago I didn't know a thing about college basketball or the reputation that Duke held.

It didn't take long, however, to become swept away by the excitement that travels down Tobacco Road year after year. I remember very clearly years ago hearing people talking in the grocery store about some big game. I didn't have a clue what they were talking about so I asked my husband "Are there any teams in our area?" I thought it might be fun to follow along. I used to like football in college, maybe I could get into basketball.

After he finished laughing, he said, "Well, yes, dear, sweetie, honey, there are a few!" So, while he was at work one night, I sat down to watch the game that was on. He would not be there to make me feel like a dolt and maybe I could catch up with him a bit. It was 1992 and the game was Duke vs. Kenucky. Christian Laettner, Grant Hill, Coach K, were among the names that started in that moment to become a permanent part of my vocabulary. It was, of course, one of the most thrilling games in college basketball history and most certainly in Duke's. I was hooked.

Since then I have ridden the waves, the ups and downs of Duke Basketball and have come to deeply respect the program and it's illustrious leader. I have developed a deep respect for what the man and his program has done for so many -- not only his players. I have watched, year after year, as these young men have taken their gifts and the gifts of their mentors and either turned them to gold or recklessly tossed them away. Duke Basketball has provided me with many life lessons that I found very useful tools in raising my children. One can learn a great deal from watching college basketball about what it means to be respectful, work hard, develop a strong moral compass, honesty, compassion and diligence. For most there is no future monetary gain at the end of the rainbow - there is just becoming the best you can be for yourself and the team.

I will be watching tomorrow night as Duke takes on Butler - a team that is made of another group of young men with a dream.  You don't have to be young. You don't have to be male. There are many a college basketball fan that looks like the one in the picture above. May the best team win!

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