And never forget where you came from, because when you do it's a long road home.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

New Year with Great Beginnings

Man.

It's been a while since I've posted on this.  I've spent my time prepping for the 2013 Gator Bowl, winning the Gator Bowl, taking a short trip to New Orleans, and then looking for employment.

Now that I'm back from my trips and have found a job, I feel more inclined to write posts.

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In thinking about what I wanted to write, I figured a little Gator Bowl and football flavor would be in order, just to get out what that was all like.

After coming back to Evanston 4 years in a row with a bowl game loss, this last bowl trip was simply surreal. In fact, it is now January 15 and I am still riding some of the emotions invoked by our January 1 win.  I didn't want to leave the field, and I know some people were forced into the locker room so we could have our usual post-game speech.

But this was no ordinary post game speech.

We had just won a bowl game against an SEC opponent, and had done it in style.  Though we were at one point tied, winning the game by the 14 points that we did solidified the notion that we didn't just happen to win.  We dominated.  There was no doubt who the victor was on that sunny day in Jacksonville. 

Getting back into the locker room was another experience in itself.  Never before had I exited a foreign, southern field and been greeted with that many smiling faces or that much positive emotion.  Seniors this year were crying, not because of a heart breaking loss, but out of sheer happiness.

From the bottom of our tired and weary Northwestern University Wildcat football souls, we had done it.

We did what so many teams before us could not.  We ended the post season with a win.  We were going home champions.  We were getting a bowl ring that emphatically said "Champions" across it.  And for those of you who follow me on twitter, that title, Champion, is what makes all the difference to a competitor.

You better damn well know I made sure to get a piece of that monkey once Fitz let it loose upon our rabid team.  We tore that thing up as violently and horrifically as possible, stuffing flying everywhere- a testament to how bad we wanted this win.  I would have felt more remorseful and harrowed had the tearing of the monkey not meant what it did.  But it was a sign of a new era for Northwestern University and Northwestern Wildcat football, one where there is no decades long streak hanging over our heads, one where there is a stigma attached to coming to such a highly competitive academic school, one where we always let our fans down in the end.

This is a new era of Northwestern in which the freight train of our athletic department is a force to be reckoned with and respected.  There is nothing but positive vibes from the Northwestern community, and nothing but praise for what we as a team have done for all of the players, fans, and supporters past and present.

As I wrap this up, all I can think about is that feeling at the end of the game where I saw Brian Arnfelt. As we embraced just before we doused Fitz in Gatorade, time slowed.

One of the best hugs I've ever been a part of (photo cred: Kbird)
Senior to senior, brother to brother, man to man- we had done it. We were victors. We were forever immortalized as the men who fought and clawed and suffered for this great university and all of its believers.

We were champions. And no one could ever take that from us.






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