Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Here and Now

By Preston Davis

I was 9 years old and the Davidson College soccer team was tied with San Diego in the final four of the NCAA tournament. 21 Educated Feet the NY Times proclaimed of Davidson’s team. The final four, played right here in Davidson, brought the town and area to a level of excitement that even a 9 year old could recognize as special. Last year, when I graduated from Davidson after playing soccer for four years, I wondered if I would ever see Davidson get to the same sporting success, in any sport.

I was hopeful yet dubious. Call it a mark of the human condition.

Davidson Basketball Coach Bob McKillop says when you walk on the Davidson campus you are transformed into a dreamer. I walk this campus everyday. Yep, still here. Took a job raising money for athletics here in the town that time forgot. I suppose now is a good time to tell you that I grew up in Mooresville. I’ve moved a total of 5 baby steps in my life. Some might call it debilitating, I call it a path toward conquest. But that’s neither here, nor there.

I tell you though, McKillop’s right. I’m still here, but I’m a dreamer too. And Davidosn dreamers have never been more alive than right now.

Davidson Fans around Charlotte and the nation, I wish you could see the campus right now with it’s romantics and it’s “head-in-the-clouders” everywhere, because they can and are justified in doing so. You can watch the campus and its community on TV or read about it in almost any publication in North America, but nothing substitutes the actual walking on this campus right here and right now.

The school store can’t stop selling red and black or anything that barley resembles Davidson Basketball—I have no doubt that America’s economy will see a bump do to the sell of Wildcat Sweet 16 t-shirts alone (I’m holding out for the Final Four ones…); satellite vans line half the curbs around campus, and reporters hang around the College Union to get a peak at “quirky” Davidson and what makes it tick; people already smile a lot in Davidson, but now it’s ridiculous—it’s like walking through Pleasantville before Toby McGuire showed up.

But it’s not the glitz, glamour, and publicity of Davidson College that you need to see—though that doesn’t hurt. I have to admit it is damn cool to see the nation enveloped in Davidson fever. I’m getting calls from people I haven’t talked to since camp at age 12. And, no, I cannot get you tickets for the game.

Of the glitz, at the moment my favorite comes from Kyle Whellingston (ESPN analyst), who has changed his personal news page from “Mid-Majority” to “Cat-Majority”—the caricatures of J-Rich and STEFF-in are priceless. Cat-Majority… What do you think? Too presumptuous to call the ‘Cats: America’s Team. Yeah, maybe a bit cavalier.

Here’s really what needs to be seen: the sharing of a great story. A story of hope—a Cinderella story at it’s best. I know I am biased, but if you were going to have a Cinderella, wouldn’t you want it to be Davidson College—a 1700 student body where the basketball players have the same academic requirements as every other Joe on campus, a place where the college and community are almost inseparable, a place where the Board of Trustees made the decision to pay the expenses of every student who can make it to the Sweet 16. No, really. I’m serious. The Davidson College Trustees will foot the bill for any student who wants to go to Detroit. What do you say to something like that? Really. I’m speechless.

All this is what you would have seen on campus today as the team rolled out of Baker Sports Complex at 6 pm on their way to Charlotte Douglas as they set out to the Motor City. A mix of everything and everyone was there to see ‘em off: faculty, staff, cameras, cheerleaders, the Football team with helmets in hands, Davidson College sports clothing that had not seen daylight sense the early 80’s, McKillop’s toilet papered house 100 yards off, parents, and 9 year olds with smiles on their faces because they know they are a part of something special.

We waved them off, just thinking of joining them on Friday.


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