We just barely made it to the Bobcat Bash in time to inhale some cold burgers. We missed the National Anthem, our seats were way at the top, and people were giving me funny looks. "You're here for Ohio?" the man in front of me asked.
"Go Bobcats!" I replied.
"Heh. Good luck," he teased me.
The teams were introduced and I clapped for each player- politely for the Hoyas (I'm from Ohio, afterall) and more enthusiastically for the Cats. I watched the crowd around me go wild for Georgetown. There were some green shirts in the mix, but we were considerably outnumbered.
But I was just happy to be there- happy to have my alumni association nametag that said 1998, happy to have my green and white pom-pom, and happy to be watching the Bobcats play.
I settled in my seat, ready to spend a few hours reminiscing about cheerleading, and band, and friends, and parties, and roadtrips.
But then, we scored first.
And then, we scored again.
"We're winning!" I joked to my Dad. "We can say we were winning at one point!"
But then, at the half, we were- wait, still winning? Yes! We were still winning! By sort of a lot!
The drunk dude next to me was baffled. "Man, I had money on Georgetown. Who told me to go with Georgetown?"
"Everyone," I replied. "But they forgot to take into account our heart." (yes, I really said that to a drunk dude at a basketball game. Once a cheesey cheerleader from Ohio, always a cheesey cheerleader from Ohio.)
We sat and cheered for the beginning of the second half, until things started to swing Georgetown's way. "Uh-oh, I don't like where this is headed," my Dad said. I nodded, but in my head, I knew. And the Bobcats regained their big lead. And we sat, in hushed excitement, for the longest last-third-or-so-of-a-basketball-game in my life. My chest was tight. My stomach was burning. And with about two minutes left to play, it became clear.
Oh My God. We're going to win.
We got control of the ball with about half-a-minute left, and stood at our end of the court, dribbling while crowd- the whole crowd, even the Hoyas- got to their feet. A standing ovation for an unbelievable upset victory.
As we left the Dunkin Donuts Center we could hear a mix of reactions. Some congratulations came my way- I was one of the few people in green- many were just shaking their heads, and I even heard a few say outloud "seriously though. Who the hell is Ohio?"
Driving home, the tollbooth guy took one look at my get-up and laughed. "St. Patrick's Day was yesterday!"
"No, no," I said. "Ohio University. We just beat Georgetown in the NCAA tournament."
"Wait- Ohio beat Georgetown?!!"
"Wow- that was a good game then!"
And it was.
They just didn't take into account our heart. Hey, according to "Damn Yankees" it's all you need. It's the heart that makes Matt Lauer chest bump an intern on the Today Show. The heart that makes someone leave at 10:30 am and return home at 2:00 am for one basketball game. The heart that will beat in so many of us as we crowd into bars across the country with other Bobcats tomorrow afternoon, making strangers into friends. The heart that beat in all those students pouring into Court Street last night, celebrating like we'd just won the whole damn thing.
It's the heart of a Bobcat, and it makes anything possible.