Happy New Year!

Happy new year, everyone! In addition to new beginnings, New Years Day is a huge day for the two things this blog is about: sports and bands. I watched the Rose Parade this morning, and the rest of the day has been full of bowl games.

As I hinted at a few posts ago, I wanted to do a 2009 year in review. So without further ado, here it is: A couple of categories I picked, plus a look ahead at 2010.

Live Events
I got the opportunity to take in quite a few things live this year, and of course there's nothing like being there in person. Here are my tops, in chronological order:

The Inaugural Parade - There was something special about being in DC as history was made and the first black president took the oath of office. But let's be honest: I was there for the parade. In addition to the Alexis I. duPont High School Tiger Marching Band making its first inaugural parade appearance since George H. W. Bush, there was an all-star line-up that included The Cadets, TBDBITL, and the Marching 100.

UNCG vs. Davidson men's basketball in the Greensboro Coliseum - This game was a one-off before UNCG men's basketball made the move to the Coliseum this season. I'm a little biased because I was part of the committee that put it together, but the atmosphere was electric. UNCG ultimately lost to a Stephen Curry-led Davidson squad, but this was big-time basketball.

UMBC men's lacrosse at UNC in the NCAA tournament -  it was a gorgeous day under (unfortunately) Carolina blue skies. I was impressed with the contingent of Dawgs at the game, which was actually pretty even with the Heels in their own stadium. I brought out the grill, flew the UMBC flag high, and saw and amazing performance. Unfortunately, that performance was Billy Bitter putting on a clinic and running roughshod over our boys to seal the deal for Carolina.

Summer Music Games of Southwest Virginia - for as long as I've lived in the area, I've been meaning to get to the drum corps show up in Salem, VA, but only first made it this year. We got tickets down low and it was a completely new experience, even for shows we had seen before. Add that to the fact that it's set in the picturesque mountains of VA, and this is a show I definitely intend to head back to.

Eagles at Panthers on opening day - Another beautiful day here in NC, and even more beautiful because I got to see my Birds get a W to start the season. We got down early to tailgate, and were parked next to a couple of Panthers fans who made perhaps the best ribs I've ever tasted. With Jake Delhomme as our 12th man, the sizable contingent in the upper decks wearing green went home happy.

Biggest Surprises
USF women's basketball wins a National (Invitational Tournament) championship - nice to bring home some hardware after what many thought was a snub from the NCAA tournament committee.

Electronics in DCI - the big surprise is that I didn't absolutely hate it. As a corollary, I was also pleasantly surprised with how tastefully the (Holy Name) Cadets used them this year.

AI football goes undefeated - If you would have told me at any point that I would be going to see AI play in a playoff game Thanksgiving weekend, I would have looked at you like you were crazy. IT was a helluva run.

USF over FSU - it wasn't a surprise that it happened; I think most people who have seen the two squads over the past few years believed it could happen. But after Grothe's injury, it seemed a slimmer chance that the Bulls would march into Tally with a freshman QB and come out with a victory. And despite how much we believed it could happen, "USF defeats FSU" is still a huge step on the landscape of college football in Florida.

UMBC's abysmal basketball performance - Regardless of what we lost after this past season, I don't think anyone would have believed that we'd have just one victory heading into the new year and conference play.

And no surprise at all...
Sadly, USF's mid-season slump no longer surprises anyone.

Looking Forward to in 2010:
USF's conference slate in men's hoops. We're just 0-1 in conference now, but the non-conference was good to us, and we may just turn a corner--or at least win a couple more conference games.

The return of Bobby Atwell. It'll be great to see him suit up for Retrievers men's lacrosse once again. There's no telling what could have been last year had he not been out with a torn ACL, but having him back patrolling the defense could certainly set the Dawgs up for success.

A Cubs' game at Wrigley Field. For our honeymoon, Megan and I are driving cross country and then taking an Alaskan cruise. We're hitting several points of interest along the way, and one of those for certain will be a game at historic Wrigley Field.

Carolina Crown's upcoming DCI season. Coming off of a silver medal season including first ever head-to-head victories over the Cavaliers, could a championship be in their sights? Honorable mention goes to the Madison Scouts, who after Relampago did a cleaning of house and brought in what looks like a pretty all-star staff.

USF at Florida. We get another shot at one of the Big 3, and this time it's the Big One themselves. Florida will be A.T. (after Tebow) and right now their coaching situation is questionable, so who knows what the future holds?

WE'll all be waiting to see what this year holds. Happy 2010, everyone!