March has been a challenging month. Here I sit, halfway across the globe, almost wishing that I was still in Spokane and coaching Gonzaga Cheerleading.
In Doha, Qatar very few people understand March Madness nor can they appreciate college cheerleading, collegiate athletic marketing, game scripts, arena management, the sound of an awesome college pep band, the thrill of sport un-jaded by million-dollar-salary professional athlete contracts, or the welling up of emotions I feel whenever I hear Gonzaga University’s fight song… Due to composition of local population, sport interest out here is primarily football (ahem…soccer for we Americans) and rugby.
For several weeks I have labored waking up super early or depriving myself of sleep–
–just so I can catch a Zags Men’s Basketball game in Doha time. Sadly, in one week, when college basketball season culminates with the Final Four, that show of love and loyalty to my alma mater will end.
This morning at the wee hour of 2:00 am I crawled out of bed just in time to watch the tip off between Gonzaga and UCLA in a South Regional Sweet Sixteen match-up.
Man, I love technology. Gonzaga convincingly beat UCLA 74 to 62. Very sleepy but happy me went back to bed ~4:30 am.
At present as I type this post it’s almost bedtime for me (~10:00 pm-ish Doha Standard Time). Work tomorrow morning. BUT Gonzaga’s victory is still fresh in my mind. I am very proud of the work and product I accomplished in my eight-year tenure as a cheerleading coach. Thus, as the sole member of the Gonzaga Alumni Doha Chapter I decided to compile some of my favorite personal Gonzaga experiences in honor of this occasion:
Waaaaaayyyyy back in 1999 I was a first-year Gonzaga Cheerleader. Lil’ Gonzaga University with an undergrad enrollment of less than 5,000 gained the national spotlight for doing what no one expected this tiny school to do. I get goosebumps every time I see this video.
The 2009 NCAA Basketball Tournament was quite memorable due to its location in Portland, Oregon. It was my third season as coach. I remember after Demetri Goodson hit the winning runner shot the GU athletic director was ecstatic, slapping my back and yelling at me: “Get excited! Get excited!” And I thought to myself: “I am excited. I am! Why are you hitting me?! Ouch! That hurts!” The noise level was deafening. I could see that it’s very VERY loud but it’s so loud you can’t hear it because your ears are plugged with sound. And then nearly getting run over by press and security guards making way towards the court
I will not deny I am a member of the Elias Harris love club. This is another ear-defeaning moment but I wasn’t even in the arena. I was next door in the Martin Center and felt the building shake as the crowd went nuts. Thursday. January 24. 2012.
A couple weeks after that was another amazing game. What I love about Gonzaga University Athletics is the expectation that ANYONE who sings the National Anthem will do so in a classic rendition. No embellishments. No woah-oh-woah, yeah-ah-hey-yeah extra note crap. Classic rendition. This was a slight detour of that tradition. And frankly, rather memorable because I recall trying not to laugh out loud. This performance made an appearance on ESPN’s Top Ten montage.
Nearly two minutes after that performance pre-game seven-minute countdown Zombie Nation tradition began. This video means a whole lot because of the collaboration with the Cheerleaders, Kennel Club, Athletic Marketing, and Pep Band to incorporate “We Are G-U!” came to fruition.
Is it okay to admit that I’ve watched this video more than 30 times?
February 2013. Gonzaga enjoyed it’s first ever Number 1 ranking in the AP college basketball polls. This video sums up the wild ride, perks, and emotions of that season.
sniffle. Good stuff. Of course there are plenty of other priceless moments. Go Zags!
I do miss the comforts of home, friends, and family. However, I am happy I chose to make such a drastic change in my life. I’ve said it many times… I love living abroad. It just happens to be that I live in Doha. Always a Zags fan.
The next game: Gonzaga versus Duke. Since it’s a school night, need to go to bed early and then wake up at 12:00 am midnight. For the love of the game.