Welcome to ‘Nova Nation Conversations, a summer series that will feature a different VUhoops reader/Villanova fan each week. Interested in being featured? Let us know!
This week we share some Villanova stories from longtime fan (and VUhoops reader), Elena Conway!
What is your name/handle?
Where are you from?
Lafayette Hill, PA
Give us a summary of your current life in a few sentences!
I graduated from Cabrini University in 2017 as a finance major and economics and sports management minor. I worked for a mortgage company in New Jersey for about a year but am in the process of looking for something a little bit closer to home with a different pace. I also serve as the assistant women’s tennis coach at Cabrini University. In addition, I work part time at Panera Bread as an associate trainer.
How long have you been a fan of Villanova?
I have been a fan of Villanova since 2006. My Dad, brother, and Poppop never missed a game and were always talking about all things Villanova basketball. They took me to my first game on February 7, 2006 when Villanova played St. Joe’s for the 50th anniversary of the Big Five at the Palestra and I never looked back.
I did not attend Villanova; however, my Dad (class of ‘89), my aunt (class of ‘97), my brother (class of ‘19), and my sister (class of ‘22) all attended/currently attend/will attend. My Poppop also worked for public safety before he retired, and my mom currently works there.
What is your favorite Villanova basketball memory?
Excluding both National Championships because that would be too obvious. One of my earliest memories is the game vs. LSU at the then Wachovia Center on 12/6/2007 when they were down 21 points and then Malcolm Grant went off. I remember begging my mom to let me go to that game because I was 11 years old and in the 7th grade. The game was the second of a doubleheader scheduled to tip off at 9:30pm on a Thursday.
More recently, the last ever Pavilion game on 2/25/2017 vs. Creighton was so special. Besides the fact that it was the last game there and the last time seeing Hart, Jenkins, and Reynolds at home, being there with my brother, Dad, and Poppop made it even better. It was always some combination of the four of us at every single game, and it was so nice to all be there together one last time. We might have been the last ones to leave that day, taking pictures, sitting in our seats one last time, and talking about our favorite memories through the years. That will always be one of the my favorite days.
Road trips are another big part of my favorite Villanova basketball memories. Me and my brother took a road trip down to DC during the 2015-16 season on January 16th for a game against Georgetown. Two seasons ago, my brother, Poppop and I took a road trip to the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ to watch Josh Hart go into takeover mode to beat Notre Dame in the Never Forget Tribute Classic. We’ve been to Madison Square Garden three times now. The first time was in 2016 for the Big East Tournament Championship game vs. Seton Hall. Even though it was a tough loss, it was such a fun game and I will always cherish my first time in MSG.
The other two times were this past season for the Jimmy V Classic game vs. Gonzaga in December, and the Big East Tournament Championship game vs. Providence. They are long travel days, taking the train into Penn Station underneath the Garden, and not getting back home until 1am, but they have been some of the best games I have ever been to. Jay Wright always talks about how special MSG is, and I never understood it at all until I made it there myself. I try to explain it to my friends and other people, but it’s so hard to put into words. There’s just something special about Villanova and Big East Basketball at Madison Square Garden.
Who is your favorite Villanova player?
This question keeps me up at night. There’s no way I can’t say Jalen Brunson. I think he is the greatest to ever wear a Wildcat uniform, and it was an honor and privilege to watch him play for three years. Josh Hart is another personal favorite. I loved watching him get better and better every year, and I proudly wear my #5 Lakers jersey for him whenever I get the chance. Scottie Reynolds might be at the top of my list though. I was in 6th-9th grade when he played at Villanova, and I always thought of him as an absolute superstar. I had so much fun watching him play and always admired how much love he had for Villanova and how well he represented the school. I still think about how lucky we are that he didn’t end up at Oklahoma instead. Last summer I got to see him play at Philly U on the SuperNova team as part of the Basketball Tournament, and it took me right back to those days of watching him play in a Villanova uniform.
What other sports teams do you follow?
10-9-8-76ers! TTP baby!
If you could play one position, for one team, in one sport, what would you be?
I’m a tennis player, so I can’t really pick a position. But I would LOVE to play on Rod Laver Arena at the Australian Open in Melbourne because that is my favorite Grand Slam of the year.
Game day drink of choice?
Bud Light always.
Any Villanova game superstitions?
I have an Arcidiacono away jersey that I will wear for all the big games--road trips to MSG and beyond, when we have played Xavier the past few seasons, March Madness games, etc. just to name a few. It doesn’t matter if the game is home or away, if I’m there or watching on TV… the jersey is out. The Virginia game a couple seasons ago at the Wells Fargo Center is a perfect example of the power of the jersey. I really thought the jersey was going to take its first loss that day, but Donte DiVincenzo had other plans. After we won the championship back in April, I went to bed in my jersey. I woke up on two hours of sleep in my jersey. I would do anything to be able to wear my jersey 24/7. I love that thing.
Pizza and wings is also another winner. The tradition started for the NCAA Tournament in 2016. I’m not exactly sure why, but starting in the tournament that year we ordered pizza and wings from the same place for all six games. We all know how that ended. In 2017, when we unfortunately lost to Wisconsin in the tournament, we had ordered pizza and wings that day but my dad had accidentally ordered them from the store’s Horsham location, not the Lafayette Hill one. That explained that loss. In 2018, we ordered pizza and wings (from the correct location) for the game at Xavier, the Big East semifinal vs. Butler and six NCAA Tournament games. National Champions again.