Sunday, March 20, 2011

March Madness: Return to Campus

We were on top of the world. Two upset victories, the ever-quotable Omar Samhan averaging more than 30 points in the frist two games, and a half dozen rambunctious Aussies who may not fully grasp how big of a deal March Madness is -- we are a double-digit seeded, mid-major team that's got America behind it.

Only two hours after the final buzzer sounded we were on the bus headed back to California. It was still light out when we got on the plane and nearly 10pm when we landed in San Francisco.

We'd heard that some of the local TV news stations had brought out live vans and were waiting for us at the airport. We'd heard that there was a "welcome party" waiting for us on campus. I took both of these with a grain of salt. "No way they care about little old Saint Mary's, tucked away in the hills of a town no one's heard of," I thought. "No one thinks of the team as some deified group. There won't be anyone there."

But I was wrong.

Hundreds and hundreds of students, professors, Christian Brothers, staff members, Moraga natives and their children, and fans were lined up waiting for us!

It was then that I realized that what we had accomplished was bigger than just two basketball wins. We stood up for small schools across the country, saying "we belong." We stood up for Saint Mary's, not just the school, the students, the athletic program, but the entire SMC community -- Gaels everywhere. We stood up and said "take notice."

I say "we stood up" even though only 12 players suited up for the game. "We" because that's the impact of these wins in galvanizing our community. Anyone who had any affiliation to the school bought in. And it paid off.

We were right in the middle of it all. Soaking it in.

At the end of the video, Omar is asked: What do you have to say to these fans out here?
"Thanks for everything. We're not done, yet. We're not done, yet."

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