Friday, March 18, 2011

Why I Cheer for Arizona

The Arizona Wildcats play their first round game in the NCAA Tournament this afternoon, so I thought this was a perfect opportunity to explain to all of you why the heck I am such a huge Arizona fan.

J is an enormous Arizona fan, no he did not go to school there, but when he was young he watched them win the NCAA Championship game and after that began to follow them and cheer for them. Each year since he has become more and more of a die hard. J and I started dating in November, which just so happens to be the start of basketball season. The first several months of our relationship we spent every single Thursday and Saturday watching Arizona play. I've always been a huge college basketball fan, so I had no problem with this, especially once I got to know the team.

Back when I worked for my dad, J and I would spend our work days e-mailing each other. One day's topic was our Bucket Lists. Of course mine was like 40 items long, J's was 3. I still have the e-mail where he wrote:

My Bucket List
1. Go to a Texas A&M football game against Texas
2. Go to an Arizona basketball game against UCLA
3. Make Kris happy

I pretty much died. It was the sweetest thing I had ever seen. I instantly went online to check to see when Arizona played UCLA. I really had no intention of going to the game, I didn't know how it would ever work but for some reason I just had to check. Turns out Arizona was scheduled to play UCLA at home on Valentine's Day. It was just too perfect....I had to somehow pull this off.

I talked to my dad who works in AAU Basketball and has a ton of connections within college basketball. My dad made a couple of phone calls and all of a sudden I had two tickets to the Arizona vs UCLA game in my name. OMG, this could actually work!

That same year my mom got engaged to my now step-dad, Steve, and they just happened to have a home in Scottsdale, Arizona. Everything was falling in to place so perfectly I could hardly stand it. I confirmed with my mom that we could stay with them and borrow a car to drive to Tucson. I then talked to J's boss at the time and got him cleared to have a week off of work. I booked a hotel room in Tuscon for the night of February 14th and booked two plane tickets to Phoenix. This was actually going to happen!

Our 1 year anniversary was on November 10, 2008 and I used this as the perfect opportunity to present J with the surprise trip. I ordered this Arizona photo album:

and filled it with pictures of the two of us from our first year together, on each page next to the pictures I included part of a sort-of poem I had written that explained the gift.

I absolutely loved it because at first you could J was slightly disappointed about getting a photo album for our anniversary, especially since he had gotten me our puppy (read that story HERE)! But, as he read on and realized what his gift actually was he got more and more excited! He couldn't believe it!

Three months later we were on our way to Arizona.

We spent time with my mom. Celebrated her recent engagement.

Went out on the town with my step-sister (who lived in AZ at the time)

We climbed a mountain.

And went to the zoo!

I wanted to steal this little guy....

How to explain the amazingness of Saturday, February 14th 2009 in words I have no idea....but I will try my best.

J and I woke up early and packed up the car, got coffee, loaded the Arizona Road Trip cds I had made and were on our way. Three hours later we were in Tucson. We checked in to the hotel, called a cab and within 20 minutes were on our way to the University of Arizona campus. We got dropped off right in front of McKale Center (J was shaking). Our first stop was the gift shop to get me the appropriate game day apparel. Then it was time to go in.....

We got there early, found our seats and then spent the rest of the pre-game down by the court watching the boys warm up.

Finally, it was game time. McKale Center was PACKED and the student section was rowdy! The energy in that arena is unlike anything I'd experienced before...and I have been to A LOT of sporting events.

Quick side story...that first year J and I were together there was a player for Arizona named Jerryd Bayless. He was a freshman point guard and the real reason I truly became and Arizona fan. He was such a hard worker, a determined player and an amazing point guard. Jerryd left for the NBA after his freshman year and currently plays for the Toronto Raptors. There was a TV time out during the game, so I ran up to the concession stand to get a Diet Coke. While in line I hear the announcer say, "Ladies and gentlemen please welcome Arizona's own JERRYD BAYLESS back to McKale Center!" I. FREAKED. OUT! I ran back to our seats, grabbed my camera, took this picture

and proceeded to jump up and down like a child for 10 minutes. I became crazed, I grabbed J by the shirt and said we need to find him! After about 5 minutes of scouring the crowd we found him, two sections over from us, court side. "Halftime. I'm going down there." I was seriously going crazy. Halftime comes around and J and I go, I'm pushing and shoving fans out of the way to get down to the court to meet Jerryd. I tap him on the shoulder (I was shaking) and tell him, "I'm so sorry to bother you but I am an enormous fan, would you mind taking a picture with me?" He said, "Of course!"

I'm super bummed because I look like a complete goon--but I was just too damn excited! I couldn't contain it!

Back to the game. Let me start by explaining the magnitude of this game. First of all, Arizona hadn't beat UCLA in 7 years. Arizona was also on a six game winning streak after a super rocky start to the season. UCLA was ranked 6 in the nation and was leading the PAC-10, Arizona wasn't ranked and was in jeopardy of not making the NCAA Tournament. When the game started with the team walking through the student section to get to the court I knew it was going to be an epic game. And it was. It was absolutely crazy! The Wildcats ended up winning 84-72 and proceeded to make it to the Sweet-16 in the tourney!

We hung around after wards because we just couldn't make ourselves leave. We ended up being there so long we met all the players! They were all so down-to-earth and excited. They thought it was super cool we flew all the way from Minnesota just to see this game!

Chase Budinger! Currently plays for the Houston Rockets!

Kyle Fogg! A Junior on the Arizona team!

Jordan Hill! My second favorite Arizona player! Currently playing for the Houston Rockets!

Once we finally left McKale Center we explored the campus, shopped at the gift shop and ate at one of the campus bars. The bartender was so impressed we had come all the way from Minnesota he gave us free celebratory shots!

We finished off our Valentine's Day celebration with a nap at the hotel, watching the NBA All-Star Dunk Contest then going out in Tuscon. We drank these enormous beers:

and relived the whole day when we saw this come across the bar's TV

It really was the BEST day! We had so much fun and we reminisce about that day all the time! J and I have a goal to watch Arizona play at all of the Pac-10 schools, but no matter how many games we get to nothing will ever compare to the first one.



Katie said...

What a great story! That's so awesome you made it all sweet of you :)

Miranda Kaye said...

Love this story!!! I'm so glad you made two of his dreams come true! Making you happy being the other one :) That's awesome you got to meet and get a pic with your fave player too. SO fun!

Carolyn said...

I love this story every time I hear it. :)

Bre said...

Best GF/Fiance ever! That is an awesome story! That was my first V-Day with JB and I had the flu. I was in bed all day and as I faded in and out of a feverish sleep, he was beside me watching All Star events. It was my first NBA All Star weekend watching experience and now we watch it together every year :)

Derrick Williams said...


Leah said...

What an amazing story! And what a special memory for you and your finance! I love this time of year thanks to my boyfriend- yay March Madness! :)

Carol {Everyday Delights} said...

Hope we can still be blog friends even though I'm a UW Husky! ;)

Mrs.Vid said...

I love Jerryd! He played for Portland (We're big blazer fans & hold season tickets) & he'd come out to the bars after the games and just hang out with everyone! We hung out with him on a few different occasions and he was always super nice! Glad he was there when you were :)