Hi, I'm an aspiring writer and life long Louisville fan. I live in New York now, but watched the game Sunday and was deeply moved like most people. Then I went to work yesterday and heard someone joking/laughing about the injury to Kevin Ware and it made me sick. When I came home to write on my blog my first thought was to write about how wrong that person was, but I decided against it because I didn't want to waste my energy on something so inhumane. Instead I chose to write about why I love being a Louisville fan and my reaction to Sunday's game. Here is a link to my post (I've copied the content below as well): http://rachaelsnewyork.blogspot.com/2013/04/thank-you-louisville-from-fan.html
Thank You Louisville, From a Fan
I love being a diehard fan. It provides me with a place in my life to understand pure passion. To love something the way you did as a child. To never outgrow things like cheering, loyalty, and a love for the game. But to me being a Louisville Basketball fan has always been more than throwing on a t-shirt and going to games. It helped me in life and my cheers could never repay the countless players that have worn, are wearing, and will wear the jersey.
I grew up a shy, overweight girl with glasses, frizzy hair, and no sense of style. I was smart and nice, but I didn’t have a lot of friends. It was hard to overcome my shyness, but there was one topic that could always get me talking – Louisville Basketball. I was a believer that we could win every game. I took pictures with the players and asked for autographs. I was nervous, but loved every minute of it. I read media guides, watched games, and read the paper before school in the morning. I remember many games vividly. Certain players always stood out to me.
I’ve always held DeJaun Wheat out as my favorite individual player. When I met him for the first time I looked a mess. I was an overweight eighth grader wearing khakis and a Louisville sweatshirt. But when I look at that picture (yes I still have it) I see how big my smile is. I was meeting the best player in the world in my eyes. And he was so nice. They all were nice. Every guy I’ve ever met that has put on a Louisville jersey was kind to me. A kindness that kids don’t always meet among their peers. When the guys spoke to me I forgot all my insecurities and felt special. Sure they had many fans, but I didn’t get caught up in how I looked or didn’t look. I was their fan and it that role I was good enough.
And when my family became family friends with Wiley Brown it was like I was living my dream. I was allowed into Cardinal Arena and watched some of the guys play. My sister worked with Wiley to have me meet DeJuan Wheat there again. A meeting just for me! How could a kid not feel special?
So, for me, Louisville Basketball was my comfort zone. It was my place of social acceptance. When I brought in the pictures to class from my first basketball banquet I remember how two of the guys I went to school with were so excited to see them. It helped create some of my friendships. It gave me something to be excited about it. It helped me find a part of my voice. It gave this shy kid a chance to become opinionated about something. Before I took stances on education, or political issues, or social issues, I took stances on Louisville vs. Kentucky or Cincinnati or North Carolina. My parents would tell you I could talk non-stop about it. Sometimes I still do.
So as a life long fan for 29 years, Sunday’s game was both difficult and inspiring. With the stories that came after Kevin Ware’s injury regarding his moments of encouraging words to his teammates to the visible reactions on the court, it showed just want I’ve always thought - Louisville Basketball is about more than just basketball. It’s about family, passion, love, and strength. It’s about not giving up. I immediately wanted to pray for him, but also wished there was something more I could do. I quickly took to social media to honor Kevin Ware and prayed for him too. And today when I went to work I wore red and black and wrote “K.W. #5” on my wrist as encouraged by messages on Instagram. These are just little things, but I hope the support helps him.
I’ve never been more proud of being fan as I was Sunday. I don't know Kevin Ware, so I can't even imagine what he was feeling or anyone else close to him. But I do know what I saw. And on national TV grown men, often encouraged to never cry, let their feeling go for the world to see. That’s love. That’s being a real man, a real friend, a real person. That’s being human. And then to take their heavy hearts and honor their fallen teammate was a display of character and strength that was so beautifully inspiring following of such a horrific event was amazing to watch. This team is special. I’ve held on to the 1996-97 team as my favorite because of DeJuan Wheat, but this team has now replaced it. The class, respect, strength, and love on this team is amazing. The fans can feel it. We can see it.
So as I fan I thank the team for sharing themselves with the city and the fans. For showing there is more to being a team than the game itself. There are things bigger than basketball and this team has conveyed great lessons in leadership, friendship, humility, pride, inspiration, and dedication through their play.
We can learn a lot about life through sports and Sunday was one of those moments.
I wish Kevin Ware a speedy and healthy recovery. I've read about his progress and his positive attitude and I think that makes his story even more inspiring. I will continue to pray for him and keep him in my thoughts. And as I said yesterday in an Instagram post, I’ve seen a lot of players I loved watching wear number 5. Alvin Sims, Marques Maybin, Taquan Dean, Earl Clark. Kevin wears it well and he will wear it again.
Good Luck in Atlanta. I wish I could be there to cheer the guys on.
I hope I never outgrow my childhood love, loyalty, and dedication to being a Louisville Cardinals fan. I love being a Louisville basketball fan and no matter how far I travel from the city that raised me, I will always have a little bit of Louisville in me.