When I was little, I became obsessed with basketball. Growing up in an athletic administration household, you either quickly turn into a gym rat or reject athletics all together. I obviously fell into the first group. Since fourth grade, my parents and I would always get dressed up, make the trek to Madison Square Garden for the championship game as a family.
I would sit in between my parents, listening for my dad to make observations or tell a story about a coach as I would be explaining the most recent charge call to my mother. I relished those moments in the second half when my dad would say, "You want ice cream" and take me to get Carvel or when my mom would say, "You want to come with me to see people at halftime?" There were years that my mother and I would sit by ourselves at the semi-finals or the earlier rounds, as my dad's team was competing, but we always watched the final together. As a family.
There were so many memories that we shared at those games. Sitting next to a out of control and crazy coach (who shall remain nameless) who was stunned to hear a ten year old me yell "Sir, I politely disagree" at an official. Shadowing an ESPN broadcaster. Learning how good our friends were after a challenging time. Getting a fever and convincing my parents that I could stay until the end of the game. Driving home the next year and talking them into stopping at the Tick Tock Diner for milkshakes.
Seeing Gerry Mcnamera hit the three to give Syracuse that monumental win in 2006. Georgetown walloping Pittsburgh, much in part to Jeff Green. Internally hoping that Jamie Dixon would win a championship because of how nice he was to me, and being overjoyed when he did in 2008. Remembering how I thought Kemba Walker would be tired in 2011, and being shocked when he carried UCONN on his back again.
Since we've made it a tradition, I've only missed one final game; It was my senior year of high school and my own basketball team had just won the state championship earlier that day. My parents still went, but a little bit of me still regrets not being there for that family tradition that I hold so close.
Now, as a Marquette student, the Big East tournament is so much more meaningful. Along with the other Catholic 7, we'll be in it next year, but will it be the same? I don't know. But I'm sure looking forward to the new memories we'll make.
As a family.