I am sitting in my hotel room the day after the national championship and the day before the end of what’s been an amazing journey. And I remembered that as I was writing about other college students living their dream, I was living my own.
I think I realized that when interviewing Loyola’s Clayton Custer and Ben Richardson for a story that described how they had been friends since third grade. It was my favorite story of the weekend.
Growing up in Indianapolis you learn to love racing and basketball, and I have loved both equally. I grew up trying — and for the most part, failing — to make baskets and pretend to win championships. I was also reading Robin Miller and thinking it was cool that he was able to go to races for a living. Later on, I would begin to read John Oreovicz and think the same thing. The thought of being able to watch sports as a job seemed like a dream. If you can do that, where do I sign up? It has dawned on me. I have signed up.
Last year, I covered the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Next month, I will cover the Indianapolis 500 for a third time after spending the month of May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with family and friends for years. This past weekend I covered the Final Four. Even after it’s over, I still think it’s crazy.
I used to skip school to watch the NCAA Tournament.
I don’t even know how to explain the biggest lesson I have learned. This is the first holiday I was away from my nine-year-old daughter. It crushed me. Being away from her on Easter Sunday was not something I could have prepared for. It hurt her, too. Luckily, she understood, or so she said. I have learned about the necessity of sacrifice. There will be sacrifice.
This is a great industry to be in. It’s a fun industry, filled with interesting characters: Players, coaches and the media, too. Through my role representing the Sports Capital Journalism Program at IUPUI, I have gotten to meet them. Charlie Pierce is one of the most interesting people I have ever met. During his speech after entering the United States Basketball Writers Association Hall of Fame on Monday afternoon, without using any notes, he said something that will always stick with me: “I’ve always maintained that one of the things that makes basketball great and was Dr. Naismith’s great invention was that he put the goal off the ground, thereby guaranteeing sooner or later something would happen and someone would have to go to it. There are not many jobs where you get paid to sit down and for 40 minutes, you get to watch people fly. I think we all take inspiration from that.”
That is what I have been able to do last weekend, and when Villanova’s championship was won I was able to stand on the court on the floor of the Alamodome to take it all in. There was confetti everywhere. Players were celebrating what is most likely the greatest time of their lives at the exact moment I was having mine.
I’m thankful for my daughter for understanding why Daddy couldn’t be home. I also hope that she is picking up on the example I’m trying to set.
I’m trying to show her that you can achieve your dreams by trying to achieve mine.
By Mike Williams | @MikeWritesSport