Sometimes, the tired line is simply the truest. What a long, strange trip it’s been.
As I sit court side at Municipal Auditorium in Nashville, awaiting two women’s teams to re-emerge from the locker room after what is I’m sure a tense halftime, it’s finally hit me that for most of the teams in the Ohio Valley Conference, their journey is about to come to an end.
In a way, it feels like this season just started.
I still remember sitting on my couch on a cool November night, trying to find a less than legitimate feed of Eastern Kentucky’s season opener against Mississippi State, just biting to watch any college basketball. On that night, you might have convinced me to watch a little league basketball game without so much as even trying. For months I had waited for college basketball to return.
And to begin my first season writing about it, on a self-made website that probably never had any business being created in the first place.
I get asked all the time, “Why did you start OVC Ball,” and each time, I simply smile and tell the honest truth. (As if there were any other kind of truth)
“I was bored.”
That may not be the whole of it. First and foremost, I’ve been a college basketball fan as long as I can remember. I was fortunate to grow up in a OVC town, where one could easily access and afford tickets to just about any game they chose. In high school, I all but ignored my high school team, and was sitting front row at the newly opened Regional Special Events Center (or R-SEC for those of us who thought having a 4-word, 9-syllable title for an arena was more than a bit excessive) in a white shirt painted with a black I.
And no, there’s no I in “Racers.” But there was one in “Andi,” the first name of a tall, german forward who had somehow gotten four random kids to create a “fan club.”
And it didn’t hurt that being involved professionally in sports has, and still is my goal. Nor did it hurt that I had taken a detour into news, where I found a job as a television producer at a market 80 station.
But I could be a news writing, college basketball fanatic without OVC Ball.
I could. But that wouldn’t be as fun.
This year, my first full year at the helm of this site, has been full of firsts.
And for better or worse, it all started at my first media day.
To put it kindly, I stuck out like a sore thumb. And that had nothing to do with what I was wearing. (although, in retrospect, that likely didn’t help matters) I introduced myself to 11 of the 12 men’s coaches in the league, some of the women’s as well, and tried to put together coherent questions that were both topical and intelligent.
Key word: Tried.
But I survived that experience, learned from it, and made off with a week’s supply of Red Bulls.
I remember sitting courtside for my first game, a snooze of a matchup between Murray State and Tennessee Temple. I remember my first trip to UT Martin, where I managed to get slightly lost. (Which if you’ve ever been, you realize how “talented” one must be to actually get lost in Martin, Tennessee.)
I also remember my first trip to SEMO, the 3rd OVC location where I traveled to, and how the SID all but ignored his duties to sit at my computer for 40 minutes trying to figure out why I was “banned” from the campus’ wireless internet.
And I complained about it. (the internet, not the SID)
Despite that lowlight, I was welcomed back to SEMO with open arms just weeks later. And that’s probably the best way to describe my experience. I’m still amazed, over a year since OVC Ball was born, at how much I’ve been welcomed by the teams and the conference itself. At that media day, nobody knew who I was. Yet, they welcomed my coverage.
And here I am, at my first OVC Tournament on my own credentials. At my own computer. Writing for my own site.
Honestly, I never would have imagined it a year ago.
But it’s great to be truly welcomed to Nashville.
So sit back, strap in, and get ready for 4 days of the best basketball coverage a news producer can manage.
All because I was “bored”