I haven't always been a Louisville Cardinals fan.
Back in the day (or as I now call it, "The Dark Ages") I was a UK fan. Not hardcore, but I pulled for the Cats like everyone else in my family. It was just natural. I also went through some other bad sports stages, but that's a story for another day.
When I was a freshman in high school I decided I wanted to go to the University of Louisville. That's when I put my blue days behind me and donned the red and black. I watched as the Cards went to the Final Four in 2005 and knew I had made the right decision.I've been at UofL for two years now, and I've been lucky enough to have season tickets for both of them. I've seen a lot of great moments at Freedom Hall: T-Will's bounce pass between the legs to Earl, the student section chanting "PUT IN STEIDEN!" and T-Will egging on Pitino until Steiden finally got into the game, Earl's huge dunk right in Harangody's face, Delk's four-point play...you guys get the picture.
But there are a select few moments that I cherish the most. The moments that, when I reminisce on them or watch them again on TV or YouTube, I get goosebumps. Chills down my spine, my hair stands on edge, and for a second or two, I can relive the joy and the elation that I felt when I watched those moments in person.
There were a couple of those moments last year. Sosa's shot against UK was my first huge UofL sports moment. I remember jumping about three feet in the air and tackling my friend who was standing next to me, and looking up just in time to make sure the Cats didn't get a desperation shot to tie the game. Then a couple weeks later I got to see my first game against a number one team, and watched as Earl sank a ridiculous jumper as the shot clock expired. Insanity. Every time I see those highlights, the goosebumps come back.
Yesterday gave me another one of the goosebumps moments. Kyle Kuric bringing us ahead in the game already had the crowd going berserk. But his alley-oop dunk with 2:49 left in the game took it to a new level. I'd never heard an arena get so loud in my life. So loud I never heard the PA guy yell "KURIC FROM KNOWLES!" So loud I couldn't hear the ref blow the whistle for Syracuse's timeout. So loud I couldn't hear the music blaring during the timeout. So loud I couldn't hear myself screaming at the top of my lungs for a good 30 seconds. I looked around and saw a sea of red (by the way, I think EVERY home game except the white-out should be a red-out, you can't tell me the crowd yesterday didn't look awesome) that was just as pumped up as I was. It was a truly amazing experience.
And now I have another moment to hold close to my heart forever. Every time I've watched that dunk since the game, I've gotten goosebumps. I don't expect that to stop happening any time soon. It was one of those moments where nothing else mattered. Not the Cards' up-and-down season, not any of the off-court B.S. still lingering, not anything going on in my personal life, absolutely nothing. All that mattered was Kyle Kuric slamming the ball home and the feelings of pure joy and elation that followed.
Thank you, Kyle, for etching a memory in my mind that will make me happy for years to come.
And thank you, Freedom Hall, for letting me be a small part of your history. These are two years that I'll never forget. I can't wait to have more goosebumps moments in the new arena.