I thought I'd at least alert you in case you're just not interested in the sporting angle. But it really is a nice story.
Today was a tale of three sports in Sooner Nation. First up was OU football at Texas Tech on TV. I won't dwell on the terrible officiating that cost us a trip to the Cotton Bowl. The point I want to focus on is that several thousand Sooner fans made the trip out to Lubbock and should have had a victory to celebrate. The game had big bowl implications and many people were watching.
Immediately after the game, I went down to the Lloyd Noble Center for the hoops season opener. Samford never stood a ghost of a chance and OU won by 27 despite playing somewhat poorly. There was a lot to celebrate: 600 new student seats right on the floor, a "CrimZone" where students stand immediately behind the scorer's table, and the first victory in a season where OU could make serious national waves. Not a sellout, but still thousands of Sooner faithful.
Having had no food prior to this, I gobbled some Taco Mayo and went over to McCasland Fieldhouse for OU volleyball against Baylor. Now, the crowd was larger than usual tonight, meaning there were about 400 Sooner fans and a dozen or so that made the trip up from Waco. The Sooners were 6-20 overall and 1-16 in the Big 12 coming in and stand no chance of leaving last place before the end of the season. There were 250 team photographs available as you came in the door. There were still some left when I left the arena well after the end of the match.
Two things that make this a feel-good story:
WE WON! 3-1, with the score 30-14 (!), 22-30, 30-17, and 30-19. These ladies just played so well and the crowd was actually a little behind them tonight.
The players all stayed for autographs afterward, so those that claimed a team photo could get it signed by the team. I felt a little weird being down on the court with a swarm of ten year old girls, but hey. They're Sooners.
They weren't grudging, tired, or upset that they had to wait another hour for dinner. Every single fan that asked for an autograph was greeted warmly. They were all excited to see people interested and thanked everyone profusely for coming. I not only wanted to get the picture signed by the team, but also wanted to thank them for all the trips to Ames, Iowa, College Station, Texas, and Bloomington, Indiana. It's a shame that they work so hard to represent OU and hardly anyone knows.
So, when I asked each of them for an autograph, I thanked them for the dives on the floor, the road trips, and the willingness to wear the crimson and cream. In every case, they were flattered and seemed to have their day made by it. It was so endearing and wonderful to hear some of the players thank me for being there and saying things like "we could hear you after that kill/block/other play" and "thanks for always being here".
I'll never care about volleyball the way I care about Sooner football. I wish we could import the noise and passion of a Saturday at Owen Field into one of our volleyball matches. I also wish we could take the kind, loving spirit of the volleyball players and spread it around all of our sporting events. (And, I must say, spreading some of that prettiness around wouldn't hurt either). ;)
So, I've decided that one time next year, I'll go to a road game and cheer them on. The way I see it, if they have to play in front of a couple hundred people in Norman, they should have someone else make the trip when they travel ten hours for our school.