March Madness

Every year in the United States, college basketball post season tournaments occur and many, many people play a guessing game called filling out your bracket for the “Big Dance ” as the NCAA men’s tournament is called. The women’s NCAA Tournament is very competitive too. Filling out your bracket means picking a winner for every match up in the tournament. Usually more points are awarded for more correct choices as the tournament progresses.

From the cover of Sports Illustrated March 20, 2017 issue

There are 2 other tournaments for men’s teams that don’t make the NCAA Tournament: the NIT and the CBI. Last year our local college team, the Nevada Wolf Pack, won the CBI tournament.

This year, my undergraduate Alma Mater, University of Illinois, is playing in the NIT. My son, Andy, and I watched the first game and saw Illinois win, 82 to 57. That night Stan’s cousin Lisa stayed over and she had her dogs with her. The next morning Andy was with the dogs and I noticed he was wearing an Illinois shirt.

Go Illinois! Andy the dog whisperer.

Andy and I both filled out brackets for a contest put on by a teacher friend. I stopped in at my old school to turn in the brackets and got caught up  with a few people that I had worked with. We had some nice visits. I thought I had missed the principal but she was returning to school when I was leaving, so we got to hug and chat for a moment.

On Thursday night our beloved Wolf Pack was playing in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. We invited April, a teacher I worked with, and her wife, Laura to come over and watch with us. April, Laura, and I are Illinois fans and Cubs fans. One of the best Wolf Pack players is from Champaign, Illinois where the University of Illinois is located. That is one of the reasons I invited them. Also I really like both of them. They are runners too, so we have a lot in common. We had pizza and watched our team get beat but it was fun to watch.

Laura on the left and April on the right.

Friday was St Patrick’s Day which is celebrated in a pretty big way in the United States. I went to Aqua Fitness in the morning and the teacher, Misty, had Irish music playing during the entire class. It was fun and it reminded me of Irish Step Dancing which I learned a little bit of as a kid (lessons from my older next door neighbor). I was dancing jigs and reels the whole time. Our 10:10 aqua fitness class is a fun group. Misty said,  “I should never have you guys on a holiday – you just want to have fun.” She helped us have fun. She started the class in a big Irish hat.

Then during the class she “played violin” with two noodles to help us follow the really fast beat of the Irish music.

I could do aqua fitness to Irish music every time – it was awesome!

Following aqua fitness we had another girls lunch – this one was for St. Patty’s Day. Again Alice and I planned the fun. We had Irish blessings on slips of paper.

An example: “May you have the hindsight to know where you’ve been, the foresight to know where you’re going, and the insight to know when you’re going too far.”

Everyone picked one to read aloud and wrote their name on it. At the end we had the drawing for our green gift basket.

We had 15 women this time, and everyone got a necklace and an Irish hat headband.

Valerie, Barbara, Rita, Nancy, and me
Shari, Sandy, Catherine, Gay-LeClerc, and Debra

Alice took the photos, so she is not pictured. Moana, Carol, Jody, and Hella arrived after the photos were taken. It was wonderful to visit with friends and get to know others. I got caught up with Hella, which was so nice. We are next door neighbors, but modern life prevents us from seeing each other often.

And so March Madness continues. Even though our Nevada Wolf Pack is no longer in the tournament, Andy and I still have to follow it to see how our brackets are doing. And we can continue to watch Illinois in the NIT. 

Sports and aqua fitness and girls lunches are good distractions from my disease. I loved a quote from the Nevada Wolf Pack Senior D.J.Fenner, reportedly near tears in the locker room after their loss:

“…we were able to give hope to the community. I was thinking about that the night before the game, that there were little kids watching us, kids in high school, people in hospitals rooting for us and wanting us to win and to give them hope through a sport – a sport we started playing for fun – that’s more than you can ask for.” – D.J. Fenner quoted by the Reno Gazette-Journal, Sunday, March 19, 2017

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