1. D&D went well.
2. My bracket is all kinds of messed up, but it's still fun to watch.
3. Modern medicine.
I covered my wife's eyes last night at the end of the Syracuse and Marquette game, because she didn't like to see the faces of the players and fans who lost. Before that, we watched Arizona beat Texas, and the camera focused in on a little girl who held up the longhorn hand sign thingy as she gulped air between sobs. I remember one player on Purdue lie underneath the basket crying, for at least a couple of minuets after the upset by VCU. And during each one of these, I felt a little pang in my stomach (more so when I had them winning in my bracket), that reminded me of the time when I felt something, probably a little similar to what they felt last night.
That being said, I'd like to blog today about losing the ice hockey state championship in the year of two thousand and four.
I played ice hockey, starting at when I was about eleven or twelve. It was expensive, and my dad said he'd pay for it, so long as I didn't have a girlfriend and my grades stayed up (if you had time for a girlfriend, you had time to get a job and pay for hockey, and school was more important than sports). This stayed the case until I was sixteen, and then I got the girlfriend and you can read about that on my previous blogs.
My parents bought a tumbling mat for my sister, which was eventually put on its side to protect the walls from pucks that I shot at a PVC goal (this did not save the roof, or much of the wall that was not covered by the mat, or the cement floor that I think still has long black marks where pucks were shot. I spent hours doing that, and never scored in a varsity game.
I played all through high school. My Freshman year we got to the playoffs, but lost pretty early. I don't remember getting very close until my senior year. We were playing Riverton. They had won it every year that their star player had been there. This was his senior year. The way the tournament was set up, was that a team had to lose twice to be out. In the end, we had gone undefeated and they had lost once (I think the one game their star player had a Junior B game), so they had to beat us twice in a row. The first game, we were beat pretty handily. They had a hot goalie, and in the last moment of the game their star shot a slapshot that broke my stick in half (I'm not even joking, it hit between my hands, and at the buzzer I held two ends of my stick).
The next game was different. Our offense somehow found a way to get it past their goalie, and we as a defense, were able to keep any from going in. We were up four to nothing going into the third period (the last period). I need to explain, for all of you who don't follow hockey, four points is a big deal. It's like in soccer. Scoring only a couple of goals a game is about average. Scoring six is a blowout. I say again, we went into the third being up by four goals. They got one past us and things started falling apart. Much of our offense stopped passing. We had been beating them with our system, not with our talent, and the system fell. There started to be bickering within our defense, and it fell down. Everything we had worked so hard at. Each hour staring at the whiteboard while Coach Spice drew where we were supposed to be, each time we heard Coach Holmes tell us to stay in front of the net, all fell apart. And Riverton scored five unanswered goals. Five. I can't tell you what that's like in basketball terms. It would probably be something like us being up by like, forty points going into the second half.
I still remember being on the ice. Their sticks, gloves, and helmets were all strewn across the rink as they hugged and yelled. We all stayed in uniform, ready to accept that second place trophy. To be honest, in the moment, they may as well have been giving us dog shit. Why would we ever want that trophy? Our captain went and got it. We stood there and accepted it. Then we changed out of our equipment, and couldn't figure out what to do next. This is what we had worked for. It was our senior year. We had a bunch of great players. We had been working on these systems since my Sophomore year. I remember my buddy and I drove to the school's parking lot, where he tried to teach me to drive a stick, because we simply didn't want to go home. I relived the last period of that game for months.
Eventually I got over it. I moved on. I worked toward other goals and succeeded. To be honest, I sometimes wonder if losing that game didn't teach me more than winning it ever could have. But I still feel that pang in my stomach when I think about it. There is still that feeling of regret. There are still the what if's. What if I hadn't tried to do Ballroom too? What if I spent more time practicing? What if I had spent more time lifting? What if? But, it all comes down to one moment, and I had my allotted time, and did with it what I saw fit. And I really don't think I'd change any of it. Maybe regret is the wrong word. I still feel that loss. But I don't think I'd change the person that I am so that I could relive the glory days of high school. I live the glory days of now, every single day, and maybe that loss is what has kept me going.
So I guess this one goes out the the men of Purdue, Syracuse, and any other team that's lost in the tourney, those who will, and all that have or will lose something similar. It hurts, and it always will, but it's you who decides where you'll go afterward.
Have a nice day.