SCHMIDT: Hey freshmen, get your wings

So you’re a freshman and you think you know Marquette athletics.

You’ve seen pictures of the Bradley and Al McGuire Centers, the stands looking like a can of sardines, sprawling rows crammed full of fans wearing blue and gold war paint and mean looks. You’ve heard the chants, the battles cries, a nation of 10,000 strong uniting as one voice to raise the roof and instill fear in anyone who opposes them. “We are Marquette,” is what they scream. You think you are Marquette, too. You think you know.

But you have no idea.

Being on campus for less than a week doesn’t earn you the right to fly like a Golden Eagle. Marquette isn’t about speculation or secondhand hearsay. It’s about being there, whenever it happens.

What is it? It is a Darius Johnson-Odom one handed put-back dunk that throws the crowd into a Metallica concert-like frenzy, a record setting triple-double by Angel Robinson, a decimating Hulk smash by Dusan Medan on match point. It is watching the Hush sisters play like Venus and Serena, seeing track star Tyler O’Brien ride the lightning to the finish line, holding your breath as Rachel Sloan sweeps in for a game ending goal. It is witnessing greatness.

And until you take part in any of the above, consider yourself just a hatchling. But don’t fret your little freshie head. There will be countless chances to earn your wings.

If you like spandex and 40 inch verticals, pencil yourself in for a women’s volleyball game. Last year, under the guidance of secret agent coach Bond Shymansky, the team had a breakout year. Outside hitters Rabeccka Gonyo and Ashley Beyer consistently turned the ball into leather fodder while the team surged to an 18-12 record. With a handful of returning players this team should spike its way into your hearts once again.

Having World Cup withdrawal already? Mosey down to Valley Fields a catch a women’s soccer game. Utilizing smothering defense and breakneck speed, Markus Roeders’ team won the Big East American Division and, before terrible seeding and venue selection sabotaged the NCAA Tournament for them, looked to be national title contenders.

Men’s soccer, long in the cellar, finally broke out with its finest season in school history.

Led by dynamic coaches and a vibrant flavoring of international talent, both tennis teams have been climbing the ranks in a tough conference in recent years.

Like driving a DeLorean on the sun, the future looks bright.

But at Marquette, the house that Al McGuire built and Dwyane Wade revived, men’s basketball is king. This year’s young group has a handful of ballers who may be the heir apparent to Marquette’s most prodigious mantle (wherefore art thou, Vander Blue, please assume the throne).

If you’re a freshman in search of some Golden Eagle street cred, there’s no better place than the Bradley Center. Show up three hours early, rain or shine, with powerful Midwestern gusts ready to blow you into another time zone, get your student section wristband, pop a squat in the first row and let the ripped up paper fly like a January flurry. Welcome to the Gold and Blue Nation.

Look, here’s the point. Until you experience the madness that is Marquette up close and personal, you can’t officially call yourself a Golden Eagle. There’s a saying around hear that speaks volumes: every time greatness happens a freshman gets his or her wings.

Go out and get yours today.