Numb. Angry. Shocked. Defeated. I think we all felt a little of all of this on Friday night when 16 seed FDU shocked the world and made history by taking down 1 seed Purdue. We have only seen it one other time, of course it was Virginia in 2018 against UMBC. I remember watching the presser after that game, the look of humiliation and defeat on Kyle Guy’s face will forever be ingrained in my memory. Now that was us, that was my team, and I may never understand what the players are feeling, but if it’s a smidgeon of what I’m feeling as a fan, I can relate.
It’s easy to take to twitter and tell the people who know way more about basketball than you do, everything they did wrong. “Fire Painter”, “Painter can’t win in March”, “Stain on our program”, and I can’t really sit here and defend the loss, I’m sure they won’t either. But just know however bad you feel, they feel 100 times worse.
I’m just here to talk you off a cliff, to remember it’s just a game, and to remind you these are just kids and Coach Painter is just a human. We aren’t infallible of mistakes, I know I make plenty (lucky for me they aren’t broadcasted on national television), it’s how you respond to said mistakes that makes you who you are. And as the famous English theologian Thomas Fuller once said, “It’s Always Darkest Before The Dawn.”
We aren’t fans because of a loss or win in March, we aren’t fans because of how our teams performs; we are fans because we attended that prestigious university that I will always call home. We don’t wear reversible jackets from football to basketball season and we don’t shy away when things don’t go are way. We are Boilermakers, we bleed black and gold, and we scream SOCIAL when Sweet Caroline plays at any bar.
I wouldn’t have some of the best friends I ever met, I wouldn’t have a lifetime of memories of getting ready in Shreve Hall to go to a frat party, and I wouldn’t get the warm and fuzzies every time my car pulls up into Chauncey hill (no matter how much they change it) without Purdue. I wouldn’t have some of the best memories I made watching the Baby Boilers despite the infamous Hummel injury, and worst of all, I wouldn’t have all you.
Friends I made because of our fandom over Purdue. Friends I have grown to know and love in all walks of life; younger, older, mentors and colleagues. We all share a common ground and can all relate to each other in one way or another despite generational differences.
After the gut-wrenching loss, I went out to a brewery near me the next day. I contemplated wearing my Purdue shirt in fear of backlash, but then I thought “Screw that” for lack of better terms. I paid a lot of money for that degree, one that wasn’t easy for a girl who is terrible at math. Those are still my guys, Coach Painter is still my coach, and I’m wearing that old gold and black as proudly as ever.
I’m a Cubs fan just like Coach Painter and I’m also a Bears fan. I’m used to being a part of a team that seams to never live up to expectations. But let me tell you, in 2016 when the Cubs finally broke though and avenged “the curse” all the past seasons didn’t matter. I believe Purdue will get us there one day, I believe it will happen under Coach Painter. Sometimes the best part of sports, is also the worst.
I’m sorry if you may have come here for some analysis on why we lost. Our recent struggles in March or what needs to change, but that’s not my problem to figure out. Everyone will have their opinion, and everyone will have their comments, but I’m just here now as a fan. As someone I know who will be believing in a final four next November once again, and someone who thinks maybe just take a breath. Life is short. And remember, It’s always darkest before the dawn.