With a minute left, I picked my coat (and my sweatshirt and my scarf) up off the ground in front of the bleacher I was standing on. I made sure my Wildcard, phone and keys were tucked away securely in the inner pocket of my down jacket, then zipped it closed.
With thirty seconds left, we all began filing off the student sections’ bleachers and into the aisles, packed like sardines in a sea of black t-shirts, inching closer and closer to that brand new court.
With ten seconds left, we started counting down.
With one second left, we started screaming.
And finally, when the buzzer sounded and the scoreboard declared the Wildcats had defeated the Michigan State Spartans 81-74, we couldn’t be contained.
Suddenly, I was on the court at Welsh-Ryan Arena, part of a huge, jumping mass and being pushed from side to side. There was a camera somewhere. There were microphones too. A few feet in front of me, I’m sure, stood tall, exhausted men in black uniforms.
I took a look around to make sure that my two friends, who I’d been standing with, were experiencing this moment with me. They were. Everyone on the floor was experiencing the same thing – the glorious adrenaline rush that comes with storming the court after your team wins a huge game.
Still cheering, still jumping. I got pushed again, this time almost colliding with a Welsh-Ryan security guard. He was part of a barrier between “us” and “them” – our beloved Wildcats. I stuck my hand out over his arm. I got a high five from a hyped Drew Crawford, a giddy John Shurna and an exhausted Dave Sobolewski.
Apparently, I was on TV for about three seconds. I can safely assume that those were not the most flattering three seconds of my life – exhilaration doesn’t tend to bring out your most graceful, attractive smile.
Oh well. I rushed the court. I felt that elusive – at least at Northwestern – feeling of utter glee because my team pulled off an incredible upset and earned an extremely exciting win.
Last year, I watched the almost-epic moment that was the Ohio State game. But, it was an almost, and that almost left me feeling worse than if we had been blown out.
Rushing the court after Michigan State was redemption. It was revenge and validation.
It was amazing.