This post is sponsored by EA Sports NCAA Football 2011 as we start a week-long series celebrating college fandom.
I spent the majority of my life growing up in Fairfield, CT. It's an odd state, sports-wise. There is no professional sports team for the state to claim as it's own, and no, the Connecticut Sun of the WNBA do not count. It's inhabitants are split between New York and Boston fandom. The one thing that is constant is that if you live in Connecticut, you LOVE the Huskies. Both the men and the recently Roman-like women.
So naturally, I grew up a die-hard Huskies fan. Go ahead and boo, we've been over it before. My allegiances have changed and I've fallen in love with another school.
For me, it all started with my first Villanova basketball game -- which happened to be the first Top 5 matchup on campus in quite sometime, with our 4th-ranked Cats welcoming the #5 Oklahoma Sooners to our bandbox of an on-campus arena, The Pavilion.
I'd never really experienced a build-up to a game like that week. All week long we heard the talking heads on ESPN say our 4-guard lineup wouldn't be able to handle the mammoth front line of Kevin Bookout and Taj Gray. It was definitely closer to 0 degrees than 32 degrees on that Saturday, and standing in line for hours to make sure you got a good seat was another first.
And the game itself? Only 2 other games in my lifetime topped it (knocking off the #1 Connecticut Huskies later that year and Scottie Reynolds' dash to immortality 3 years later). Randy Foye captured my heart with a 32-point ourburst that had my throat begging for mercy by halftime.
The rest of my time at Villanova helped cement that night. As I mentioned, there were better games that were played. Heck, there was a better team that came along my senior year. But nothing compares to that first experience, having never seen anything like it before.
That night, The Pavilion housed 6,500 fans. It felt more like 30,000. That's when I learned how special 'Nova Nation was. The hugs, the screaming, the high-fives - the unity that as displayed that night was something that I had yet to witness. And now, I'm proud to be a a lifetime member.
As Foye proudly boasted in 2005, "We play for what's on the front of our jersey's, not what is on the back."
How did you become a part of 'Nova Nation?