Spring Break 2014 - Nashville, Tennessee
My lady and I decided to take a 5 day spring break trip to Nashville several months ago to visit a friend at Vanderbilt (B.S. degree from ISU), tour the city, party on St. Patty's day, eat at Jack's BBQ, and do some boot scootin'. Well, we accomplished all of those things. However, when we planned this trip, we knew of the Big XII tourney, but had to take advantage of her spring break and my work being slow. So, we planeed 3 months ago and headed south to Music City, USA.
Now I'm not here to blog about our trip, but I will say Nashville is a fun town. Lots to do, plenty of bars, plenty of fried food, and live music everywhere. But what I wanted to share was the amount of people from the state of Iowa that were there. Every bar, every tour, every restaurant, there was somebody from Iowa. How did we identify these people? 95% of the time they were wearing either Cyclone or Hawkeye apparel. And the other 5% we found out in the course of our conversations. And hey, when you're 9 hours from home, why not talk to people, even if they are from the other fan base? We managed to talk to and meet so many Iowans in Nashville it was almost a shock if we went somewhere and we were the only Iowans. And no matter if they were a Hawk fan, they were still the "Iowa Nice" that we all know. A group of Iowa State fans at Toosties picked us out of the crowd (we were sporting the Cardinal & Gold as well) and gave us the 'VIP' booth. There was room for five more people and a family walked in and we called them out and said, "Sit here, we don't need all this space." We got to know the family from KC and I mentioned the Big XII tournament and all the ISU fans there. That's when the dad of the family told me he was a grad from ISU in engineering. Before we left the bar, he paid our tab without me knowing. I found him later in the day and told him it was unnecessary for him to do that. But he said, "Yes it was. You're ISU grads." And god damn that was awesome!
But I got to thinking of all of the travels and places that us Cyclones go. To make a long story short, we had tickets to the Grand Ole Opry Saturday night of the Big XII Championship game. Clearly did not plan that out! But I managed to keep going in and out of 3G and 1X while at the show. I will tell you, at half time just from the score, I was bummed. But as the show and game wore on, I continued to get updates. After the show we rushed to a bar and caught the last 2 minutes of the game. There weren't a lot of people at this bar, but we enjoyed it and took in the moment. This reminded me of a time my dad and I were coming back from Indianapolis after a FFA Convention.
This was in 2011 when we played at Texas and we all know how that football game panned out. I was getting updates on my phone from college buddies and I finally said, "Dad, we gotta find this game!". We were in the middle of Illinois and I can't remember the town to save my life, but we went deep into the heart of this town, checked two bars before finally finding the game at the third bar in the back corner on a TV. We literally were out of breath and caught the last 5 or so minutes of the football game. It's a memory I will always remember.
Not only my own experiences, but I heard of an ISU fan from New Mexico, dropping all his prior engagements and darting for KC for the Championship game. I know of several family friends, my own dad, two co-workers, and some college buddies who didn't think twice and bolted for Kansas City for the Championship game. And I'm sure many of you did the exact same. Now I personally wished I could have been there, but I did my part of celebrating the Cardinal & Gold south of the Mason-Dixon Line in Nashville.
I have told the story of my dad & I in the middle of Illinois finding the ISU/Texas game to several people, and told some family and friends of our recent Nashville trip and all of the "Iowa Nice" & Cyclone fans we came across. And especially after watching the "Thank You Fans" video from our basketball team, it really opened my eyes and I realized, as fans we play a huge part in the success of our teams. Whether it is college hoops, pro football, or amateur indoor soccer, us as fans drive our teams. Of course, our teams have to be talented and motivated, well coached and conditioned. But as fans, I want to say us Cyclone fans are a damn good fan base. From my own experiences doing whatever it takes to find the game, or people pausing their lifestyles for a few days to see a Championship game blows me out of the water. I know there are great fans for every team, but seeing/hearing/experiencing it first hand are opportunities worth telling.
In my traveling ventures over the past few years, meeting ISU fans is amazing. I can't say how great it is to say this line: Iowa State Cyclones are the 2014 Big XII Champions. And how blessed we are to have Fred Hoiberg as our coach. And how Ejim was the Big XII Player of the Year and Big XII tournament team and second-team All American, DeAndre Kane as the tournament Most Outstanding Player and Big XII Newcomer of the Year, and Niang on the Big XII tournament team and third-team Big XII. I watched the pep rally and Jeff Johnson stated that in 16 home games there was a total of 227,079 fans which averaged near sell-outs every game at 14,192. And watching that pep rally made me wish I was there, but I found other ways to carry on the Cardinal & Gold on the East Side of the Mississippi River.
As a Cyclone, I'm so excited for this team of what they have accomplished and what it is to come in the tournament. No matter how deep we make it, this has been a one-of-a-kind team and I foresee great things in the future of Cyclone basketball. This past week I learned that Cyclone fans are everywhere, if you are a fan/grad of ISU a fellow fan/grad will pay your tab, and that as fans we find all kinds of ways to support and root on our beloved Cyclones. I wish I had a beer now so I could 'Cheers' to WRNL and Cyclone fans everywhere, but I don't so I will use a 6 oz. Styrofoam Dixie cup with luke-warm coffee instead. So, Cheers! Go Cyclones! 2014 Big XII Champions and 2014 NCAA Tournament appearance and third in a row. Let's make it to April!
(I do not own or claim to own any pictures above. Copyright to their respective owners.)
Go State, baby!