March Madness

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In Kentucky, basketball is king, and I am one of its many loyal subjects.  My parents moved to Kentucky from Minnesota two years prior to my birth, and they became University of Kentucky (UK) fans.  I don’t know why they were drawn to the Wildcats, but I do know that we bleed blue (UK blue, to be exact) in our family, even though none of us attended UK.  In fact, I attended graduate school, and later worked for, UK’s archrival, the University of Louisville, but I always remained true blue.

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Like I said, no-one in our family attended UK, as I chose the University of Dayton (UD) for my undergraduate education.  UD lacks the rich basketball tradition of UK, but when I was a student, the team reached the second round of the NCAA’s basketball tournament, which sent the student body into an absolute frenzy.  So, I found myself in a love affair with two very different teams-the Wildcats and the Flyers.

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So, now that you know that I am an avid fan of these two teams, you may have come to two conclusions.  One, I am ecstatic that both teams have reached the Sweet 16 and am giddy with excitement and anticipation waiting for them to play later this week.  Correct!  Two, I have them playing against one another in the NCAA Championship game and to make a “Sophie’s Choice” of sports to decide the winner.  Wrong!  In my office basketball pool, I went with my head when filling out my brackets, and I didn’t choose either of my beloved teams to make it to the final game, much less the Final Four, even though my heart told, or actually screamed at, me to do so.  This decision came back to haunt me in the form of my youngest daughter’s astonishment and admonishment.

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My youngest daughter is herself a basketball player, and she also is a big fan of UK and UD.  When she studied my NCAA basketball bracket selections, she was aghast when she saw that I did not pick UK or UD to win the tournament.  She repeatedly questioned my judgment, my rationale, and my loyalty, and she urged me to change my mind, saying, “You always say that anything is possible, Mom, so, it is possible that one of them could win.”  Dwelling in possibility and believing in yourself are two things I speak of often with both of my daughters, and apparently, my youngest daughter really has been listening.

I didn’t change my picks, and like many people, upset after upset, some of them courtesy of UK and UD, led to my bracket imploding last week.  When I told my daughters that I was tied for 38th place in my office, my youngest daughter offered this observation, “Mama, you already lost when you didn’t believe in your teams. You should have picked UK or Dayton to win it all. Next year, go with your heart, not your head, and you’ll do better.”  Her innocent, yet direct, remark made me think about more than just basketball.

This was yet another example of when I have followed my head, not my heart, to choose the safe or predictable route (picking #1 Florida to win the tournament wasn’t much of a stretch at all), and while I may have picked the winner (stay tuned), that doesn’t matter to me as much as the joy I have experienced watching UK and my alma mater and true Cinderella team, UD, defy odds and expectations and beat higher seeded teams.  I didn’t choose either team, but I want them to keep winning, with one of them being crowned the champions in the end, even when my head tries to tell my heart that it can’t and won’t happen.  My heart is hearing none of it, though.

So, in addition to learning never to underestimate either of my favorite teams, I also have learned that following my heart is akin to following my bliss.  While you can’t always throw caution to the wind, you can follow your heart and take your head along with you to see where the wind leads you.  This has reminded me that I need to practice what I preach to my daughters, and I will relish the madness of March and of life in general.  With that, I leave you with these two things:  Go Big Blue, and We are UD!!!

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That’s another story . . .



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