Basketball and Sewing

What do you mean those two things don’t go together? Of course they do! It’s like peanut butter and jelly. Or peanut butter and chocolate. Or, if you’re Elvis, peanut butter and bananas. Or peanut butter and arachibutyrophobics (that’s people with a fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of their mouth).

Okay, so maybe not that last one. And maybe not the former ones, for most people. But, in my case, these two things are a natural fit.

I shall explain.

Five years ago, the basketball team of my alma mater – George Mason University – found its way to the NCAA championship. When we got the chance to enter into the competition with 63 other teams, we were met with derision and many questions like “Who the heck is George Mason and why are they being allowed in here?” We won our first game and moved up to the pool of 32 teams. Still, no one thought we were anything to watch.

Then we were in the Sweet 16. And then the Elite 8. At that point, people were talking about us, calling our team “Cinderella.” People started acknowledging that our guys were pretty darn good. I mean, we’d beat Michigan State, UNC, and Wichita State. They were really good.

Then came the game against UConn.

Everyone – and I do mean everyone – in the world of sports reporting conceeded that our guys had had a pretty good run but said that there was no way in the world that we would ever beat the Huskies. Afterall, everyone in the know was projecting that UConn was going to end up winning the whole shebang. They were just that good. The day of the game came and, for a good long while, it looked like everyone’s predictions were going to come true.

And then we upset the apple cart by winning.

I remember watching that game. I was an absolute mess. I had been for most of the other games, too, but this one was nuts. We weren’t supposed to win, remember. When the buzzer came and my team had done what everyone said was impossible, I was gobsmacked. I actually stared at the screen for a good long while, not really believing I’d seen what I’d seen. It wasn’t until Maggie called me, screaming “We’re going to the Final Four!” that I really grasped what our guys had managed to do.

Maggie and I went out to lunch a short time after that phone call, to toast our team and see some of the craziness that was going on in Fairfax. And people, let me tell you…it was crazy. Maggie had to drive past Mason to get to my place, and she informed me that there was all manner of ballyhoo and folderol going on. People were honking like their lives depended on it as they passed the school. There was a guy with a giant GMU Patriots flag billowing from the back of his truck, driving back and forth on the section of 123 that borders Mason’s campus. People were milling about in any type of gathering spot they could to jump up and down, hug each other, and scream “Final Four, baby!”

Now, we ended up losing the next game, but I wasn’t as upset about that in the end, as we lost to the eventual National champions. Of course, I still think it was a little unfair that our guys seemed to be about two feet shorter than most of the Gators that year, but that’s not really something one can control.

So…why do I bring all this up on a blog devoted to sewing, costumes and general geekery?

Simple. It’s NCAA basketball tournament time again, and my team is once again playing. We beat Villanova on Friday – a game I watched at both Brion’s Grill (for the first half) and Maggie’s house (second half). I was good and did my best to keep the volume down at Brion’s – though the crowd there really wouldn’t have minded. I did, however, scream myself hoarse while watching the conclusion of the game at Maggie’s. It was a heck of a finish. And yes, I was, once again, a wreck.

This is why I don’t watch many sporting events – televised or otherwise. I get a little too into the game sometimes. I blame my father. I can always tell how Dad’s team is doing…there are days I can tell even when I’m in my room, downstairs, at the opposite side of the house. I’ve heard him outside, before. And, I’m sorry to say, I’ve inherited the volume and the intensity, so I try to keep away from watching my teams play, for the sanity and hearing of all those around me.

When I do watch games, I try to give myself something else to do at the same time. Something that will occupy my hands while I’m sitting on the couch. Something that will help keep me from screaming too much.

Neena's quilt, depicting the story of Sky Woman

I’ve found that sewing works wonders to keep me a little calmer. During Mason’s 2006 run to the Final Four, I worked on a lap quilt I was making for my cousin Maya’s daughter, Neena. I did almost all the hand-quilting while watching the games.

This time around, I’ve got another couple of projects to work on. One of these has been named “The Cherry Blossom Quilt.” Otherwise known as “Maggie and Andy have one freaking huge blank wall that needs to be filled with something colorful.” The first name is much shorter, but the second is more descriptive. Said cherry blossom quilt is actually not even to the point of being a quilt top. I’m still working on preparing all the cherry blossom petals. There are a LOT of them. Different shades, too. And each one needs to be prepared separately. Come 5:15pm on Sunday, I forsee myself sitting on the couch in my Mason gear, trying my best not to dislodge piles of fabric petals while my team faces its next (and probably greatest) hurdle.

We’re playing Ohio State this go around. OSU is the #1 team in the nation.

This is the wall quilt that USED to hang in Maggie and Andy's living room. I made that one, too.

 In. The. Nation. Normally, being from Ohio originally, I’d be cheering for the Buckeyes. This go around, though, I will be shouting myself hoarse on behalf of the Green and Gold. Dad’s in Ohio at the moment, so I don’t get the joy of sharing the living room with him, but I’ll be calling him periodically throughout the game. He hasn’t told me one way or the other, but I do believe he’ll be cheering for OSU. Afterall, that’s where he and Mom both went. He cheers for Mason when we play, but this is the first time his school and mine have ever met on the court.

I’m pretty sure my brother will be home for the game, and my thoughts are he’ll be cheering for the scarlet and gray as well (OSU’s colors, for those of you not in the know). We might end up knocking the house down by the end of the game.

I don’t forsee us winning. We’re good this year but, like I said, we’re up against the top team in the nation. Whatever happens, I’ll still have a team to cheer for. It’s just…I’ll always cheer a little louder for my Patriots.

Note: I just chatted with my brother about the upcoming game. Hilarity ensued. Brags were made (by him). I’m excited and nervous about this game, and I’m not even the one playing.

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