Well, my first experience of watching Pioneer basketball as an alumni came last week, and it was much different than what I had expected. That whole day I was excited to watch the Pioneers kick off their season, but didn’t really expect it to be as difficult and weird as it was for me. While it was tough to balance the less than spotty wifi here at Jordanstown and stay up for 1am tip off, the difficulty I speak of goes much deeper than that.
It is really hard to put into words what Marietta, and Marietta basketball in specific, meant to me. Maybe, staying up for 1am would give a brief idea. It is quite easy for me to say, however, that my experience at Marietta was a complete dream come true, and that I came to love the community, people, institution, and basketball program as a whole. I knew this while I was there, but being away from there has given me a greater appreciation of just how special of a place it is. I can truly say that I do miss Marietta and all of the people there, and because of this, it was tough watching the game from my room here and not being able to be there. It was tough not being able to see my teammates, coaches, foster families, and others. It was weird not being inside the locker room before the game, and then running out of the tunnel with my teammates for the first time in 4 years.
Despite all of this though, the game also made me reminisce in a positive light as well. It made me look back on the good times I had there, and life long relationships that I built. It also made me look back and realize just how fortunate I was to be a part of the program, community, and institution. All things that I will certainly cherish for the rest of my life.
Focusing more on the game though, it’s safe to say that it would have been funny to be a fly on my wall that night. This is because my feelings of sorrow and remembrance quickly seemed to subside and turn into pure excitement and joy as the game rolled on. Joy and excitement that could be seen and heard by me fist pumping and shouting throughout the game. Even at points, yelling out things that players should probably do or plays they were running throughout the game like they could hear me 2,000 miles away. I can now honestly see why games were so stressful, but exciting at the same time for my family the last 4 years.
In conclusion though, the Pio’s cruised to a big victory that night and are off to a really hot start this year. They are currently sitting at 6-0 and ranked #7 in the country; something I couldn’t be more proud of. Since that first night, I have tuned into all, but one of their games this season. I fully intend on tuning into as many games as possible the rest of the way, and hopefully bringing them some of this so-called Irish luck. One thing’s for sure, as well, they will have one very proud and pretty groggy fan cheering them on from Belfast all year. Go Pio’s!!