On April 2, 2012, just over two years ago, Amy and I got on a plane and headed off to Indonesia for our Peace Corps service. We are in the homestretch now and have just nine weeks remaining (and under four months before returning home).
In the time away, we’ve missed a lot of big moments like weddings, births, graduations, new jobs and other major events in our friends’ and families’ lives. But, one of the missed moments that ranks near the top was Kentucky’s 2012 national championship. Our flight left the morning of the game and we didn’t know who won until touching down in Tokyo.
Luckily this year we were able to follow the tournament much closer. Between listening to the radio broadcasts on the internet, downloading the games to watch the next day and staying in Surabaya this week to watch the Final Four games live, we were able to take part in this annual rite of Spring celebrated by Kentuckians around the world.
We stayed up all hours to listen to the games. We took pretty bad public transportation to watch the games. We had friends with better internet than us text us minute-by-minute updates. We converted students and friends to the Cats cause–leading to texts such as this one after the Wisconsin game:
“congratulation.go kentucky go.the winning this year will replace your missing winning 2 years ago.”
Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. The miracle run stopped just short of being truly miraculous. However, this team vastly outperformed all mid-season expectations and will be remembered fondly by the Big Blue faithful for years to come.
In honor of this year’s Cats and the legion of new Kentucky fans in Jombang, East Java, I’m reposting my blog post from two years ago about what Kentucky basketball means to us:
All Cats Everything
Originally published April 19, 2012
In the years since leaving my parents home in 2000 to attend the College of Charleston and then move to DC in 2004, Kentucky basketball has been the one greatest constant that has kept me connected to my home state, family and friends over the last 12 years. Sure, there was bourbon and bluegrass music, too; but its hard to have hour long conversations about those like you can with Kentucky basketball. Well, maybe bourbon, but that requires that both participants be drinking it, and as we know, those conversations can veer off topic quickly.
During my time in DC, Kentucky basketball (and to a smaller effect, football) was a community activity among so many of our fellow Kentuckians (as well as non-Kentuckians) that led to great friendships, communal agony and celebration. For instance, had it not been for Kentucky basketball, I likely wouldn’t have been nearly as close to the person we ultimately chose to be our wedding officiant.
A couple of months ago when we found out that Peace Corps staging would take place on April 2nd and we would be leaving the country on April 3rd, I was ecstatic. We would watch the Cats dismantle Western Kentucky and Iowa State in DC, see the Cats defeat Indiana, Baylor and Louisville while in the Commonwealth, and then return to DC and see the Cats win the national championship before leaving the country for two years. It couldn’t have been more perfect.
A few weeks later, we were told that there had been a change of schedule and we would be flying out at 12:30pm on April 2nd. It couldn’t have been worse. That would put us somewhere in the vicinity of Alaska when the game was played and we had no ability to watch it…no wifi, no live television, and no radio.
We were over the arctic circle, between Alaska and Russia when the game was played. I asked the flight attendant to ask the pilot to radio for the score, but she said that radio contact in that area was limited. Then I decided to just wait because I didn’t want to see any score updates without context.
There were several people in our group who were interested, some people from Kansas (but K State fans), and guys just wanting to know. The moment we got off the plane in Tokyo (at 5am your time), I negotiated a Japanese website to get online on the airport wifi, dialed up KSR, and waited, and waited, and waited. Finally it came up and I let out a small yell before we progressed through customs.
The wifi was really slow, so it wasn’t until we were in a hotel in Bangkok (at like 4pm your time on Tuesday) that I was able to read a bunch about it and, most importantly, watch One Shining Moment.
I’m so pumped for the Cats, but wish I could have seen it. Hopefully someone out there will keep it on their DVR for the next two years, unless, you have to record over it with two more championships. I’ll understand.
Go Big Blue!