March 12, 2009
Six years after I came to Cleveland State as the ticket manager we were in our first NCAA men's basketball tournament where we defeated Indiana and St. Joseph's. The magic ended in the sweet 16 when we lost to Navy and David Robinson. Cleveland State was in the AMCU-8 and our main rival was Southwest Missouri State. Most people are surprised when I recall Selection Sunday.
The AMCU-8 was one year away from earning an automatic bid to the tournament. The Vikings were an at-large team. We watched the show not knowing whether a 27-3 season, including a win at nationally ranked DePaul, would be good enough to earn that precious bid. As bracket after bracket was announced the tension in the room thickened. Finally, the eighth and last bracket was announced. CSU made and the room went wild. It was a good 10 minutes of hugging crying and cheering before someone asked "who do we play" ? It didn't matter we were in.
1986 was a great year. It started with the run to the Sweet 16 and ended with the birth of our daughter. Now 22 and a college senior she will be spending her spring break attending her first NCAA tournament with the Vikings. My little gym rat started coming to games when she was 10 months old and has never stopped, even planning weekends at home around the CSU schedule. Some of her favorite memories are working the to NCAA tournaments we hosted. Now she can cheer as her Vikings play.
It is hard to believe it has been 23 years because in many ways it seems like yesterday. I am happy for all of us but happiest for our seniors who believed in a dream and provided the leadership and hard work to make it happen. To the underclassmen and our staff falls the challenge of sustaining the success.
My advice to all of our staff, student athletes and fans is enjoy the moment. 23 years of trying and crying is testament to the fact that because you do something once you can do it again.