Born and raised in Minnesota, I've grown up very lucky in the fact that I can watch four professional sports teams and a Division I program. I was also very lucky to grow up in a household surrounded by sports. My mom periodically coached volleyball (a sport I've grown to love in the recent years) and my dad coaches basketball and baseball.
Ever since I was little I've been enamored with sports; the excitement, playing, coaching, the strategy... ah the strategy. I love watching game plans fall into place, I love seeing halftime adjustments, and the strategy is what draws me to sports. Because of this way that I view the game, I put myself in the category of "Sports Fan" not "Team Fan."
I will watch everything from up-tempo basketball to seventh grade girls basketball. Sure, I cheer for the Twins, Vikings, Timberwolves, Wild, Golden Gophers, but I don't get heart broken when they lose, life goes on. I've been the all encompassing "Sports Fan" for most of my life, and still am. But like I said earlier, life doesn't end because Gary Anderson missed a field goal or Torii Hunter dove and missed a fly ball; that was my perspective for a long time, but about three and half years ago I added a tag to my fanship: Warrior Fan.
As I mentioned previously I was born and raised in Minnesota and attended college in Winona, MN. I live and die by this team, and recently it's been a lot of living. The Winona State Warriors Men's Basketball program has been on a tear.
As of this past Saturday, the Warriors have had three seasons of at least 30 wins. Two years ago, they won the National Championship at the Division II level and last year lost a heart breaker in the National Championship game. This is where "Sports Fan" and "Team Fan" differ. I wasn't lucky enough to make the trip to Springfield, Massachusetts to see the game, so I had about 15 friends over to watch them game and we were stoked.
The Warriors were a heavy favorite, undefeated all season, only to lose in the one that matters (sound familiar Pats fans?). When the final buzzer sounded the apartment was silent with the exception of my laughing; not at the hilarity of losing a game we shouldn't have, but I thought it was a joke. There was no way the layup with time expiring counted, it couldn't have counted. It did count and it hurt. My body ached, I was blindsided, like I leaned into a Mike Tyson blow. It was brutal. I felt for bad for myself and I felt bad for the team. I think that is what hurts most, it's a small school, I see the players on campus, in my classes, at the bars. It just killed me to see them go through that loss.
That difference is a whole new level of sports I am so glad I discovered. Having an emotional investment in, not just a team, but your team is so rewarding and so damn frustrating. And that frustration draws you in even more, it makes you want it more. H ere in little Winona, Minnesota, we want it bad. It is a capacity crowd every night filled with the "Maniacs." It's tournament time for us now after all. Let me tell you, 4,500 hundred people in a 4,000 seat gymnasium is nuts.
The highest seed hosts through conference tournament and regional tournament play, Winona State is hosting and is again the favorite. At least I think they should be, I'm a Warrior Fan... it's my perspective.