Hey everyone, I'm a longtime reader of Card Chronicle though I hardly ever comment and such. I originally wrote this post for my blog, which you can find at mattspot.sportsblogs.com but I wanted to share it here as well, I hope you guys enjoy and as i'm always trying to improve my writing skills, feel free to tell me what you think, Go Cards :)
April 8th 2013.
It started off just as your typical Monday. Got up, had some cereal, took a shower, got dressed, and headed off to the local community college where I was taking classes at the time. I remember that I had a big Biology test that afternoon, and that while taking it, I could not focus on my test at all. All I could think about was later that night and how long I had been dreaming of and waiting for this day. It was April 8th 2013, and finally for the first time in my life time, my beloved Louisville Cardinals would be playing for the National Championship.
I've been a Louisville fan my entire life. I was born and raised in Louisville, my parents both attended school there for a time (my mother even taught there for a few years when I was little), and my Dad who was from Virginia and had only been living in Louisville for a few years when I was born had become quite a big Louisville fan. Some of my earliest memories are those of my Dad on a Saturday in the fall or winter taking me into the city to go see a Louisville football or basketball game. I have quite a lot of memories of both. I remember in football going to the UofL-UK in 2000 where it was delayed in the third quarter due to a thunderstorm, we ran back to our car, and then later watched and cheered from home as the Cards beat the Cats in OT. I vaguely remember going with my Dad and one of his students to Detroit to see Louisville play at the Silverdome in what was then called The Motor City Bowl. I remember Christmas Morning 2004 when my parents surprised me and my brother with a trip to Memphis to see the Cards beat Boise State in the Liberty Bowl. I remember the blackout game in 06, the BCS wins in Miami and New Orleans. But while I'll always love Louisville football, Louisville Basketball has always been #1 in my heart.
Growing up Freedom Hall was one of my favorite places on earth. I eagerly waited each year for the schedule to come out so I could sit down with my Dad and figure out what games we were going to try to attend. I remember being there for Senior 2001 when Denny Crum coached what turned out to be his last regular season game as head coach. Less than a year later, I was there again for Rick Pitno's first game as head coach. I remember the comeback over West Virginia to go to the Final Four in 05, the heartbreaking losses to Michigan State and Morehead State, and the Incredible thrill ride the 2011-12 Cards took us on.
Despite all that there was one thing I still had not had the opportunity to see, a Louisville National Championship. Since I was little I had been dreaming and thinking about seeing that happen someday. Wondering what it would be like, how old would I be when it happened, how would I celebrate? Years went by, my family left Louisville and moved to Virginia, but the dream never went away, I followed the Cardinals from afar, even making a trip to DC in 2008 to see them play Georgetown in what was as of writing this, the last Louisville basketball game I was able to attend. Finally it came.
Going into the season it looked like the Cards were one of the best if not the best team in the country. They played that way early on, beating Kentucky for the first time in the Calipari era and rising up to a #1 ranking. It started sliding a bit late on, we lost 3 straight, then we lost that crazy 5OT game in South Bend. Then we started clicking again, we rolled through the rest of the season, then we went to New York where we dominated the 2nd half against Syracuse to win the last Big East Tournament. Celebrating that win was where for the first time, it really sort of clicked I guess you could say in my mind This could be the year...
The Cards entered the Tournament as the #1 Overall seed, the dismantled their first two opponents, got past Oregon and in one of the most emotional games I've ever watched, beat Duke to go back to the Final Four. The game against the Shockers was one of the longest basketball games I've ever watched. I remember going down 12 and the 2nd half and just sitting back in my chair in stunned disbelief. This can't be happening, are we really about to get our hearts broken in the Final Four again!?!? Then Hendo showed up with 2 of the biggest 3 pointers I've ever seen, the comeback spark and had been lit and the Cards came back to win. When the Buzzer sounded, I remember lying back in my chair once more and nearly started crying cause that game had been so emotionally draining. But it had happened, after years of dreaming, years of hoping, the moment was finally here, the Cards were in the title game.
Which brings us back to April 8th 2013, after making it through that Biology test (which I remarkably still passed despite not being able to focus) I went home and got ready, tip off could not get here fast enough and leading up to that tip off was probably the most nervous I have ever been over a sporting event. But the moment finally came, It was one of the best games I've ever seen, the first half where the Cards again went down 12 only to have LUUUKKKEEE bring us back capping it off with a Montrezl Harrell Dunk that sent me leaping out of my seat. Then the 2nd half where it seemed like slowly but surely the Cards will pulling away. I remember in the final minutes thinking back on all the memories I had of Louisville Basketball and how they had all been leading to this one, the moment I've dreamed of ever since I was 5-6 years old.
Then the final buzzer sounded, Louisville 82, Michigan 76. The dream, was finally a reality.
I remember that while I didn't cry, I did get a little choked up, watching the players that I had grown to love celebrate, I remember staying up all night, watching the post game thread on Card Chronicle, I remember watching video of Louisville students dancing and celebrating in the streets and wishing that I could be there in the middle of it. I remember many things from that night, but the thing I remember the most, was how amazing it felt, The Louisville Cardinals were National Champions, and it had been well worth the wait.