Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Grit and Poetry

Hmmm. So what would make me start a blog entry with these two words?

Simple answer. Tim Tebow and Urban Meyer.

Hmmm. So how did those two names ever get connected with poetry?

Not so simple answer.

The story starts with my love affair with football. Which, in truth, I never really understood until two years ago when a friend took me to my first professional football game. At the Superbowl. Yup. The Pats and the Giants in Arizona.

As you might imagine, it was a first-time football experience on steroids.

Then there is my love affair with the Gators. Just this year, a girlfriend asked me, “How can you be a Gator. When. You. Never. Went. To. Florida.”

And she said it just like that.

Ok…so I guess we need to begin our story even farther back than Superbowl XLII.

Eleven years ago, I met Susan Fuchs at work. It was hard to miss Susan’s office for all the orange and blue paraphernalia, not to mention the various and sundry alligator replicas, decorating her workspace. Then, one morning in 2000, she came into the office with eyeglasses askew and a voice barely audible from having personally screamed the Gators men’s basketball team to victory during a crucial March Madness game.

On that day, I finally confessed my secret to her. I was jealous. Truly jealous. Truly, madly, deeply jealous.

I went to art school, not college. Our only sports team was a tennis team. A tennis team that actually took me in as a member. If you’d ever seen me play tennis, you’d know what a dismal statement that was. We didn’t even have a mascot. After all, what would we be? The Pratt Institute Paintbrushes?

I explained to Susan how fortunate she was for having experienced such a full college life—a life she could re-experience regularly through her passion for Gator sports. She answered, “Why don’t you come to our viewing of the final game of the NCAA tournament?”

How fun, I thought! So I went. The Gators gave me a blue t-shirt. Taught me the fight song. The game was thrilling. We were ahead. Then behind. Then ahead again.

Local NBC affiliate, 12 News, showed up to film those crazy Gators routing their team onto victory all the way west in Phoenix, AZ. We screamed. We yelled. We were ahead. Then behind. Then ahead again.

I vaguely remember a camera pointing my direction. We screamed. We yelled. We were ahead. Then behind. Then ahead again. Alas, in the end, we lost.

Channel 12 ran our story that night. And there was my face. Plastered all over the TV. Immortalized on the 10 p.m. news as the Gator poster child. And the Gator Nation welcomed me with open arms.

I’ve been a Gator ever since. Through good seasons and bad. I’ve got the beads. The alligator replicas. The name badge. The t-shirt. Even the blue and orange toenail polish.

But for the last three years, under the inspired coaching of Urban Meyer and the passionate leadership of Tim Tebow, being a Gator has been nothing short of magical. And I’ll remain eternally grateful to the Gators and Susan for having embraced me so that I could enjoy it as a member of the Gator Nation.

My language skills aren’t honed well enough to craft the poetry those of us in the Gator Nation experienced. Maybe Homer could have accomplished the feat. But since Homer never met Tim Tebow, I’ll let Pat Horan, editor of this video mashup of the 2008 season, tell his gritty version instead.

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