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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

American History

This year, I spent my mid/late January a little differently than I typically do. For the past several years of my life, I've made one or two trips to Atlanta around this time: One is for MLK weekend to retrace the footsteps of Black history and American history (a trip that has been an annual program at UNCG) and the other is for the Honda Battle of the Bands to see excellence in the art of marching. This year neither of those took place, yet I found myself traveling about the same distance north instead of south to Washington, DC. Once again for Black history and American history and to see excellence in the art of marching. I attended the inauguration of President Barack Obama.

My full account of the trip is found here in my personal LiveJournal, but given this is my sports/marching blog, I'll concentrate on the marching aspect. In addition to the historic inauguration of a Black president and a Delawarean VP, my primary motivation for making the trip to DC and braving the crowds was the parade. My alma mater, The Alexis I. duPont High School Tiger Marching Band, was making their third inaugural appearance (they also marched for Carter and George H.W. Bush). Beyond that, there was an amazing lineup: FAMU's Marching 100, Ohio State's TBDBITL, and The Cadets, to name a few.

I was fortunate in that my interests were a little different than the bulk of the crowd. After waiting for hours to get onto the parade route, I was probably about 10 people back from the barricades at the road. Not a bad draw, even better if you're closer to 6'5" than 5'6". Then, a funny thing happened. For those not familiar with the inaugural parade format, the president and vice president lead the parade, and then there's motorcade/filler while they make their way to their viewing stand, from which they watch the rest of the parade. Well President Obama passed, and then about half the crowd left. I was maybe 3 folks back by the time Vice President Joe Biden passed (I could see him quite clearly, but then, me and Joe go way back.) After Biden passed, we were probably down to about 10% of the original crowd, and I was right up to the barricade for an excellent spot for the rest of the parade.

It was a great parade. Highlights include the sizable Delaware contingent, the abundance of HBCU bands, several other great college and high school bands, the Gay and Lesbian Band Association, and the two drum corps present, the Colts and Cadets. It was great to be present both for history and a helluva parade.

What To Watch

So as you anxiously await the start of the 2009 collegiate lacrosse season (surely I'm not the only one!) check out The Morgan Lacrosse Story, a great documentary about the Morgan State lacrosse team, which is to date the first and only varsity lacrosse program at an HBCU. Good watch.

Shout out to Yardbarker Kyle Harrison, whose father played for the inaugural Bears lax team and who is featured briefly receiving his Tewaaraton.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

RIP Coach Yow

My condolences to the family, friends, and loved ones of NC State women's basketball coach Kay Yow. I can't pretend I knew Coach Yow, or even that I was a fan of NC State women's hoops, but living in ACC country, I have come to "know" her through the public eye somewhat, and I do know that that University and her loved ones will truly be missing someone special.

Living in Greensboro, I've had the opportunity on several occasions to attend the ACC women's basketball tournament, held in the Greensboro Coliseum. The one year in particular that stands out to me is 2007. It was an emotional year for Coach Yow and her team; she had missed 16 games that season due to a resurgence in her cancer, the court at Reynolds Coliseum had been named in her honor, and her Wolfpack team was in the ACC tournament finals. They emerged from a 4 seed; not normally a daunting task, but seeds 1, 2, and 3 were all in the Final Four the year before. I was there for the semifinal matchup when nearly the entire arena cheered as her Wolfpack defeated the 1 seed and 2006 national runners-up Duke Blue Devils. NC State lost to the Tar Heels in the ACC finals, but the support from everyone in the arena for Coach Yow was clear. Moreso, it was strongly evident how much the young women on her team truly loved their coach.

Coach Yow, you will be missed.

Monday, January 12, 2009


Maybe it's the college sports fan in me, but I'm always intrigued by the Final Four, even in pro sports. This year, the NFL's final four has a few teams that are near and dear to me and another that could make for an interesting story line.

First of all, my ideal Super Bowl would be Ravens vs. Eagles. If you know me, this is a no-brainer. My team (The Eagles) takes on my #2 team (from my numerous ties to Baltimore), helmed by a quarterback from Delaware, in Raymond James Stadium, home of the USF Bulls. It's got everything. Never mind the fact that it would alienate me from my fiancee's entire family. This one might as well be the Delaware bowl. Two teams within roughly an hour's drive of where I grew up, one being Delaware (at least Northern Delaware)'s team, the other being helmed by a UD grad. It's The Battle for I-95 (yeah, I know that's what they call Eagles-Giants). Crabcakes vs. Cheesesteaks.

Similarly intriguing is the battle for the Keystone State: Philly vs. Pittsburgh. Years ago when this looked like a possibility, PA governor (and former Philly mayor) already made it clear which side of the state he was pulling for. This would certainly split the state in two.

The matchups involving Arizona aren't as intriguing to me, and if it came down to it, I'd grit my teeth and root for the Steelers over the Cards because a) they will have beaten my Eagles and b) EAST COAST WHAT!

Speaking of the east coast, admittedly, I know very little about the Cards because, well, I don't care. I know Kurt Warner's having an MVP year at the ancient age of 37, and that Matt Leinhart frequents hot tubs, but that's about it. What I do know about the teams from the east, however, is that any of those matchups will be a defensive showcase. The Steelers, Ravens, and Eagles all have SICK defenses this year. They say offense sells tickets and defense wins championships, but when you play defense like these guys do, it puts butts in seats as well.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Excellence Lives Here

It dawned on me recently that I've had the opportunity to live in areas that are either the most talented, most passionate, or field the best teams in each of my three favorite college sports. I went to undergrad in Maryland, which steers the lacrosse world. From there, it was on to the great state of Florida. In addition to the success of the major football programs there, you'll find that any successful roster east of the Mississippi is full of kids from FL. I now reside in North Carolina, where college basketball is a religion and two of the gods wear rival shades of blue. On top of geography, one of my alma maters plays [sic] basketball in the Big East, easily one of the top basketball conferences, along with the ACC, which is headquartered right here in Greensboro.

In other sports news, there have been some good and bad occurrences in the past few days. At the top of the good news, George Selvie, 2-time All-American defensive end, will be returning to USF for his final season instead of leaving for the NFL. He'll get to test his mettle against two of the state's big three next year--we continue our series with Miami and FSU has just been added to USF's 2009 schedule!

UMBC recently released the 2009 lacrosse schedule, which at this point I already knew. In off-season obsession, I had pieced most of it together by checking the schedules of potential opponents whenever they announced, and the InsideLacrosse Faceoff Yearbook confirmed what I had and filled in the holes. On the unfortunate side, however, all-American defenseman Bobby Atwell will be out for the season with a torn ACL.

In the grander scheme of thing, I've stopped wasting the talent of my HDTV and finally gotten the HD cable box. I'll be watching tonight's national championship game in high definition!
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