Who’s laughing now, America?
All year long I’ve taken ridicule for saying that George Mason University was going to win the NCAA Tournament. I was told I was crazy. I was told I didn’t know anything about basketball. I was asked where George Mason University was. I fielded all these barbs with grit and self-affacing humility, and knew that come March, I would show everyone what the mighty Patriots were capable of achieving.
That day is today.
I can remember when my dad used to take me to games. I was so tiny I couldn’t even dream of reaching the triumphant rims of the Patriot Center backboard. Everything about it was electric. I was swallowed up by my Ricky Wilson jersey and had to stand on the seat to see the court, but I knew then that I was part of something amazing.
I used to sit in high school and daydream about the day I’d play for George Mason. From attending music recitals at Harris Theatre to studying International Affairs at Robinson Hall, I knew all roads led to George Mason, especially Roberts Road, Kelley Drive and Shenandoah River Lane. I couldn’t wait to start my freshman orientation in the Krasnow Building, because I always knew it would lead me one step closer to Senior portraits in the Johnson Center and graduating in a May afternoon ceremony at Cross Cottage to a become a George Mason alum.
I didn’t go to George Mason, because they said my essay wasn’t “well-written,” and that I lacked “important verbal and reasoning skills,” but that didn’t snuff the Patriot flame which lived on inside me. Sure, I wasn’t one of the 29,728 enrolled students between the three campuses in the Fairfax, Prince William and Arlington locations, but I felt the triumph Sunday just the same.
So go ahead, everyone, pretend that you’ve loved George Mason all along. Yes, I didn’t have them winning my bracket — because it’s unlucky to pick your team to win it all. Everyone knows that. But I’ll still sit here in the comfort of my George Mason-themed basketball viewing chamber, feeling the sting that each Patriot basket delivers to its foes, each shot filling me with the Mason Pride I’ve always had. I always knew they had it in them. All along.