Hope. Faith. Dreams. All of these are things sports fans place in their chosen teams at the start of a season.
Most are optimistic. Some are surprisingly cynical. Few are realistic, but that’s what makes sports fun, isn’t it? Anything can happen in any given game.
Unfortunately, for most fans and teams, the end goal is to be crowned the victor, whether it is the MLB or little league, nobody likes to lose.
There can only be one overall champion every year, though. So most fans hang up their gear early and start to form up hope for the next season and the one after that.
This year was full of hope for this Sam Houston State University sports fan.
My first year of coverage started with the football season, kicked off by a game where the Bearkats managed to hold with a good Texas Tech squad in the first half and then lost in devastating fashion to Lamar the next week.
Then came the 90th Battle of the Piney Woods, where the Bearkats won the game thanks to not one, but two punt return touchdowns, which was a fitting decider to such a historic rivalry.
There was the revenge game against McNeese and the utter dominance of Colgate which made the Jacksonville State collapse even more devastating- when the Bearkat offense, which had dominated and wowed all season, sputtered and died. The defense, which had bent, snapped in two. It was devastating.
The Bearkat men’s basketball team was my next assignment and that proved to be a much bumpier ride than football season.
A team that would score over 100 points some nights and 60 the next. The team was led for most of the year by junior guard Dakari Henderson and forward Aurimas Majauskas, who were both just bench role players the year before.
A quarterfinal game against Nicholls almost ended my career early, thanks to a heart attack.
A two point Bearkat lead with 17 seconds in the game, turned into a one point Nicholls lead with eight seconds in the game.Then the Bearkats threw the ball down to their best scorer all year, Henderson, who hit the game winning layup with under two seconds to play.
This shot was even more impressive when you know that those were Henderson’s first minutes in the entire fourth quarter, thanks to a lower leg injury that after the season was discovered to have been a fracture.
The men’s season ended with the rudest thing a sports team can do to its fans, toying with their emotions.
In the first round of the CIT, the Bearkats took on Jackson State in Huntsville.
The Bearkats came out without Henderson and looked like they didn’t want to be in Johnson Coliseum at all.
The Kats were down 17 at half and down 21 with 17 minutes to play in the second.
All hope had been given up and the time was being counted down more religiously than the score.Then the team went on a run. They played better defense than the Bearkat team I had seen all season.
We went to overtime and I had bought back in to this Bearkat team.
The team that played in the second half disappeared and we were left with the disinterested team that had originally showed up… and that was the end of the Bearkat season.
Despite the ups and downs of this season, I can’t wait to come back and cover the teams again next year. That’s what I signed up for when I became a sports fan.
Eat ‘Em Up, Kats.