As I looked over into Section EE of the Hutchinson Sports Arena last night, I remembered my in-laws. That was Melvin and Marie's reserved spot for the National Junior College Athletic Association men's basketball tournament.
It was tradition.
My sister-in-law, Kathy, shared this on her Facebook page Wednesday night:
The Blue Dragons played again last night in the tournament. And Amanda had someone else bragging about her at Joan's Restaurant in Stafford yesterday morning. Uncle Randy told everyone who'd listen that he was going to the NJCAA tourament to see his niece cheer for the home team.Every year, my parents attended the NJCAA Men's Basketball Tournament in Hutchinson. This was a big deal to them. Mom would go shopping for new spring outfits, get her hair done, etc. They enjoyed talking to the people around them each year (same people every year!). Dad read about the players and told stories about them. I can't help but think how excited they would have been to attend this year's tournament. The Hutch men made it into the tournament (so did the women, but that is in Salina), and Amanda will be cheering tonight. Dad would have told everyone around him at the game, everyone at coffee that morning, basically anyone he came in contact with, that his granddaughter was cheering at the tournament!! I will be thinking of them tonight, and they will be smiling down from Heaven.
— feeling blessed.
Even though the Blue Dragons lost, it was worth the trip to see Amanda - and to remember.
Last night, as I walked down the northwest corner aisle of the Sports Arena, my Dad was in his seat, basketball program and pen in hand.
Years ago, this group of ranchers jerry-rigged brackets so they could perch televisions on the metal railing in front of them. From their Sports Arena seats, they could watch the Juco players on the court, while keeping up with the NCAA action on their TV screens.
Last night, there was one screen there, but it seemed miniscule compared to the bulky TVs from the "olden days." Last night, there were probably dozens of people streaming NCAA games on their smart phones. But it's just not the same.
We were glad to be there to see Amanda's final cheer at the Sports Arena. We've enjoyed being close enough to see her cheer at some football and basketball games the past two years. She and her squad will head back to Salina today to continue to cheer on the Lady Dragons in the national tournament there. And she hopes to cheer somewhere else as she continues her education next year.
Like hand springs across the Sports Arena floor, the memories tumbled their way into our hearts and minds. And it was good.