Monday, March 25, 2013

Hey Cincinnati... No Hard Feelings. I'm Still Rooting For You.

I got a SwimSwam email alert the other day that should make any fan of college swimming happy:  The Cincinnati Bearcats will be "aggressively" working toward re-instating full scholarships to their swimming program!  The cherry on top?-- Their new football coach is a big supporter and is pitching in to help!

I was pumped when I read this, even though I like to pretend I hate Cinci. Why would I do that?  Read on...

It's not you, Bearcats... It's your parents.
My freshman year at the National Independent Championships (NIC) in February of 1993 I had made the top 8 in the 400 IM and the 100 breast which were both in the same session. (NIC? Never heard of it? It's the conference for all the teams who don't have a conference.) I had barely squeaked into 8th in the 400 IM and had edged out a Bearcat to do it.  The team race was tight enough at that point that it mattered.  

I have to hand to the Cinci crowd.  We were in Charlotte, NC and there weren't very many (Southwest) Missouri State Bear parents there to watch.  In contrast, the Cincinnati Bearcats had a sea of red in those bleachers.  Seriously, they weren't just awesomely ridiculous about cheering for their team... they even had a cheer to cheer on themselves.  "Cinci! Cinci! Cincinnati parents! Cinci! Cinci! Cincinnati parents!"  

I am not kidding.  At first we thought they were saying "BEARCATS,"  but no, it was "PARENTS."

Obnoxious, right?!  I would have been pretty embarrassed if that was my mom up there in those bleachers acting like that.

I had a shot at a medal in the 100 breast, so Coach Steck told me to blow off the IM and relax it, and I did.  I swam a 4:20 when it took a 4:09 to get in.  Haha.  I didn't really think anything of it until I was walking from the blocks to the cool down pool with my towel and sweats in hand.  Those obnoxious parents-- they actually did a cheer just for me!  It was a pretty simple one:  "BOO!  BOO! LAME!"

And of course me, with my silly little mohawk had to stop and do one of these:

"You boo'in at me?  Of course you are.  I'm the only one here."
It was odd, how charged I got from that.  For the first time, I felt like a real athlete in a real sport.  Wow.  This must be what pro athletes feel like.  They hate me.  They actually care!  I felt like a closing pitcher for the Cardinals cleaning up the last inning at Wrigley Field for the win.  Haters gonna hate.  Damn.  I shoulda moon-walked.

Maybe it was just because the bleachers at meets in Alaska never had enough people to even get loud.  Maybe it was because I felt like parents really never actually watched anyone but their own kid.  I am not sure why that felt so damn good.  This made up for everything I missed by choosing swimming instead of trying out for middle school basketball.  This was the big-time.

So, yeah... I am glad to see Cincinnati is gonna give their program the AED treatment.  There is a lot of history there.  Hell, Josh Schneider's success is enough to get swim fans and alumni excited about it.  But really, I just want to see those ridiculous parents back in the stands.  Swimming needs a little more of that.

No hard feelings... I appreciate the history of your program and your mom's enthusiasm for it.  I hope you guys come back with guns blazing.  Go Bearcats.

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