Hello everyone, time for Miggy again... in case you were living under a rock, I was selected to represent Villanova as one of 16 alumni participants in this year's Biggest Big East Fan contest...the gracious people at Volvo are sponsoring the competition and putting up a sweet, sweet Volvo S60 to the winner. (And here’s the video to prove it)
So along with the voting that started at mybigeastvolvo.com (cough, VOTE FOR ME, cough), we are in the middle of the blogging portion of the competition (this being the 5th of 8 challenge posts). Let's add on the fact the contestants will be/have been sent to their alma mater for one weekend using the S60 to attend a game (In two weeks, Jan 28, I will be back @ Nova vs Marquette, you’ll want to get ready to that weekend, just saying…) Again, I ask, why wouldn't one accept?
Challenge #5: What are the best traditions for your alma mater and why? (From personal traditions, traditions at the school and even fun traditions that you and your friends had while you were in school.)
Preface: So when thinking of traditions, we think of the stories behind them. Therefore, what better way to answer this question by telling a story?
Sit around this Yule log and enjoy a tale…
...It was last Wednesday afternoon: the Syracuse game. The season has not been going well for Villanova, an 8-8 season, but a win versus the number one Orange surely would push momentum the other way, right? Scavenging through the Internet, other Wildcat fans try to mention possible underlying factors that could serve as motivation.
“Villanova was 8 of their last 11 versus Syracuse”
“This may be the last time Nova-Cuse plays as Big East Rivals in Philly”
A weird quirk I have is that I walk away from the computer when gathering thoughts. In my head, I think: the people are hopeful, which I find pleasantly surprising. Maybe it would not be a bad idea to head to a gamewatch after all. The Old Person Tradition for Nova fans is to hit their official Villanova Gamewatch, set up by their local Villanova Alumni Chapter. The events are a nice rally point for alumni to meet up, which with professional lives is not as easy to do, and share our passionate opinions on everything from the team to the weather.
I speed back to my desk to find which bar is designated for this gamewatch. My head subtly sinks when opening the VU Manhattan Chapter invitation. There is not one, but two bars selected as today’s destination: The Australian and Cooper Door Tavern. As I been to both bars, which option to choose to was not automatic in my mind. After some self-debating (and a quick check of the weather), I decide the proximity of The Australian from my office wins out.
The decision was not completely firm until responding to the text, “Which bar are you heading to?”
The text belonged to my friend, Amanda. She was the first person who knew about my involvement in the Volvo Biggest Fan of the Big East competition (because she originally considered to enter the contest herself, but after declining, recommended me as a contestant). The very reminder of this connection inspires me of a second motive to head to this gamewatch. This latest challenge for the competition is to describe the best traditions for your alma mater.
A plan forms to interview my fellow Wildcats at The Australian on how they would answer the question. The interviews would be combined into a single video to air on the Internet. My hope is to find a few of the younger Villanova alums since they would not only remember me as the Villanova representative for the Volvo Big East Fan contest, but as “that guy” who ran his own television sports show on campus. Oh, memories of Sportstime: A Miggy-Flavored Sports Show. Hopefully this combination triggers in their memories, taking away (or adding) any awkwardness of a person holding a camcorder in their faces.
The strategy does need me to fight my own hesitations. The show, as most created in Villanova Television (VTV), ends when the producers graduate (although one could always debate with Andrew Simone, creator of VTV Classic […where Babel never sleeps] if those shows should end). Therefore, my involvement in video creations has been limited, almost non-existent, since my school days. However, the interview question asks for Villanova traditions. One of the unofficial fan traditions, started somewhere, sometime in the Augustinian Army, is creating fan commercials.
As I check the time; the watch reads six. I decide probably better to start heading to the bar. The awkward silence of being one of three people in the office finally has dawned on me. Grabbing my raincoat, my Volvo Big East fan hat and my Sony Bloggie, I head out into the chilling air of New York.
“Not the most fun day for a walk”, I ponder as a weak drizzle is whipped around by the strong winds. A fourteen-block trip from the office to The Australian has the feel of a forty-block journey. Alas, I eventually reach 38th Street, and realize the bar is within sight. I pull out the Bloggie, and after a few tense seconds thinking the device would not turn on, the camcorder is activated. The first step of this plan was to film an introduction, including a display of the entrance of the bar as “one of the hot spots for Villanova fans in New York City”. After fifteen minutes of programming the Bloggie to the right settings, finding the right background position, avoiding pedestrians and their quizzical looks, waiting for each truck to carry its noise to the next block, and twelve takes, an acceptable twenty-second introduction is recorded.
After the debacle outside was settled, time to head inside. I stumble across The Australian to the rear of the bar, where most of the Villanova alumni usually gather. As I clear the main walkway, I spot a couple familiar faces among a group sitting in a bench. Seeing Andy and Olivia makes me feel better about my chances for this plot to work. The game started a couple seconds before my entrance, so our attention is divided between the game and our conversations.
Andy, knowing about my participation in the Volvo Big East competition, opens up with the question: “How’s the contest going?”
I chuckle as I present the Bloggie on the table. “Funny you should ask…would you like to help with my next challenge? I am trying to figure out the best Villanova traditions and was looking to interview people on their answers. Probably won’t record it until later like after the game though so you have time to think about it.”
“Sure”, he replies. Andy pauses for a few seconds to contemplate, then fires off, “Like when the team throws up their V’s after each game?”
“Yep, just like that.”
His answer killed two birds with one stone. The V-sign may seem like the peace hand sign, but to Villanovans, when you throw your V’s up, it means a sign of pride in everything that is Villanova.
Among other times when you throw your V’s up, after each Villanova men’s basketball game, the team gathers and holds up the gesture to the Villanova crowd as our fight song, “V for Villanova” is played.
A Dion Waiters three lights the screen as Villanova calls timeout. Nova is only down 9-13 at that point when Onir walks in. After rearranging the seating arrangement, time to spring the question on another friend. “So Onir, what’s your favorite Villanova tradition? I’m trying to film a video for my next post.”
“Hmm”, the only word formed as a response.
Nova Nation is featured on television as the timeout comes to an end. The student section is a sea of blue as everyone is wearing their Nova Nation shirts. The traditional fan gear, every student is given the shirt to wear at every Villanova event.
It is as if ESPN drew up a cue card for me, “You know, like wearing your Nova Nation shirt or something”
“Get back to me, I’ll try to come up with a good one”, he retorts. A waitress walks by and hands everyone a complimentary shot of Jameson. My guess is that this was the real reason for the delay, but who am I to blame him as I consume the freebie. In terms of the game, Ty Johnson connects on a three to tie the score at 13-13. A few misses and a foul later, another round of commercials ensues.
During the break, Amanda finally appears, resulting in another round of musical bench seats. After exchanging pleasantries, I ask to see if I could draw another
victim volunteer for my experiment. She declines, officially breaking my streak at two. So moving on from that failed attempt, we decide to broaden our talking points to our jobs, the Volvo contest, and the team. That TV timeout did nothing for Villanova, as a cycle of Nova misses and Syracuse buckets would happen. Seconds and minutes would flow and each Orange basket only dampens the mood further. Amanda finally cries out, “I have been here for how long? We made three points since I got here!”
Onir receives his order of nachos during the 21-3 Cuse run; the appetizer reminds the rest of the table that it is usually dinner time. I buy into the appealing looks of the nachos and order some myself. By halftime, everyone is settling in to their focus of food and drinks as we try to hide the fact Villanova is down 43-24. The presence of my plate of nachos reminds of my superstition. Some people believe in rally caps, rally monkeys or many other charms; such providing luck for their team during dire circumstances. My Villanova superstition during games I attend at the Wells Fargo Center (or whatever bank it is called nowadays), is to eat a batch of Chickie and Pete’s crab fries.
The tradition started in 2007, during the first ever Big East-SEC challenge. Villanova, playing LSU, was down throughout the entire game. Losing by at least 15 with ten minutes to go, I stormed out of my seat out of frustration. I was not completely sure what to do while I was roaming the arena until I saw the Chickie and Pete’s station. I decided to grab crab fries, since I never sampled the food before. I reach back to my seat, where my friend Shashika laughs at my idiotic comment, “There are no crabs in these crab fries!” He was already enjoying the earlier site of me lecturing two sorority girls on what the team is doing wrong. As the fries went, so did our 21-point deficit. With my last bite, Malcolm Grant gets fouled behind the three-point line pulling the game within one. I could still picture the looks on our faces when we witness Dante Cunningham scoring the game-winning basket. From that game, whenever attending a Villanova game inside the WFC, any gigantic margin not in our favor would call for a set of crab fries.
The second half of the present game begins, and the Wildcats still remain to struggle. As more familiar faces in The Australian, the talk moves away from the game and towards any other subject coming to mind. I join into the discussion sparingly, trying to focus on hoping another LSU-type rally. It is not until Onir randomly asks, “What’s that name of that song we all sing at games? ‘ooh-ahh’, that’s a tradition, right?” when I finally divert my attention.
“You mean ‘Hey Baby’? Yeah, that’s definitely a tradition”
Hey Baby, the unofficial traditional song played during each Villanova game, has the same type of connection to the student section that Red Sox fans have with Sweet Caroline (Many other teams try to play Sweet Caroline as well, even Villanova’s band, and I do not want to get started with my disapproval of such an act).
A mini-rally for Villanova keeps them at an eleven-point disadvantage. Maybe the nachos could be a lucky charm after all. Before that last thought surged through my head, Syracuse scores six unanswered. One of my fellow teammates with the Villanova Curling Team texts me. The text had nothing to do with the game, but the fact is a nice transition to another unofficial tradition during my days at Villanova. For the past three years, College Curling Nationals would fall on the same weekend as Selection Sunday. The Curling Team likes to follow their own traditions (why not, the team received medals each year we competed), including eating a deep-dish pizza dinner before the flight home. Since our departures are not usually until later in the evening, every year the team would huddle around the same bar/restaurant, the Fox Sports Sky Box, in Chicago O’Hare Airport watching as the bracket is filled. Obviously, the shouts or moans when Villanova is displayed would come from us, as we still are garnished in our curling uniforms.
Another Orange score lights the screen. A twenty-point deficit, with less than six minutes to go, Amanda decides to call it a night. I could not blame her, especially being she needs to catch a train all the way back to Long Island. Everyone else is enjoying each other’s company. I cannot look away from the painful images of each Wildcat turnover, missed shot, foul or defensive lapse. Onir is staring into space and points at his ear, trying to recognize the song playing in the bar.
Of course, how could I forget! Hoops Mania is the opening tradition of the basketball season. Among other things, WWE-style entrances, dance routine, dunk contest and inter-team scrimmage would fill the program. However, the reminder was of the secret special-guest performer who would appear at the end of the night. My Freshman year, although G Unit’s Tony Yayo was the official star, 50 Cent graced us with his presence as well. Junior year, I was not even a foot away from T-Pain, filming the festivities for Villanova Television purposes. This season, Drake astonished campus as this year’s guest.
The game finally ends, Villanova losing 79-66. It is never an easy task facing the number-one ranked team in the country. As I run into a couple familiar faces in The Australian, Andy passes by, “So would you still want to pull off the video? You gotta still win that Volvo!”
I appreciated his concern. However, looking at his face along with the rest of the Villanova supporters, the last thing I would want is to capture their disheartened expressions on film. Nova fans are a proud bunch, win or lose, but having to display on film about happy traditions after a demoralizing loss is probably not the smartest idea in the world, “Nah, don’t worry about it, next time.”
Next time, because there will always be a gamewatch, there will always be better times for our basketball team, and there will always be traditions for you and your fellow Villanovans to carry on.
So I hope you all enjoyed a story really overblown, if not about nothing even (but so was a show called Seinfeld). That said, I hope I gave you some insights on a few Villanova traditions.
As usual, feel free to make your comments...and/or like it, and/or re-tweet it, just do it.
Follow me on twitter @miggyflavored, and GO NOVA! (V for Villanova, V for Victory, V for Volvo)
(As always, many thanks to Volvo & the agency setting up the competition for giving me opportunity to represent, and Eamon O'Meara for the best blog in the world to work with [glad his New Year’s resolution is to start writing on his own blog again, ha, but seriously, glad you’re back dude])