REINER: Make MU athletics great again

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REINER: Make MU athletics great again

Photo by Ben Erickson/benjamin.a.erickson@marquette.edu

Photo by Ben Erickson/benjamin.a.erickson@marquette.edu

Photo by Ben Erickson/benjamin.a.erickson@marquette.edu

Photo by Ben Erickson/benjamin.a.erickson@marquette.edu

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Do you remember when Steve Novak scored 41 points and grabbed 16 rebounds in a victory over No. 2 UConn in 2006?  What about when Jimmy Butler nailed the overtime game-winner at St. John’s in 2010?

Maybe you do, maybe you don’t. Admittedly, I don’t. Those games occurred during the Marquette men’s basketball renaissance, when the Golden Eagles made eight consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances between 2006 and 2013.

However, I was fortunate enough to come to Marquette for what I would call the peak of that success. The team made the Elite 8 for the first time since 2003.

When I came here, the Marquette Wire didn’t exist. Student media was still divided. I was actually rejected as a Tribune reporter my freshman year. Can you believe that?

Instead, I devoted my time to Marquette Radio, producing games and doing color commentary. The high point of my year – and perhaps my student media career – was calling Vander Blue’s game-winning layup at St. John’s to clinch a share of the BIG EAST regular season title.

When I wasn’t doing radio, I was in the student section in my navy morphsuit, yellow tie and white sunglasses. I’ll always remember the raucous crowds at the Wisconsin, Syracuse and Notre Dame games that season. Both soccer teams and the volleyball team also had successful seasons and drew lively crowds.

It’s hard to describe the excitement at those games if you aren’t a current senior or older. I can’t say I’ve experienced a game with the same type of atmosphere as games in 2012-’13.

Buzz Williams, Terri Mitchell and Bond Shymansky are long gone. Steve Wojciechowski and Carolyn Kieger, as has been well documented, are still rebuilding their respective programs, while Ryan Theis’ volleyball team doesn’t quite have the same flair.

Part of it certainly ties into team success. When teams don’t win, fans don’t show up. Still, students only have four years to jump around like maniacs without any judgment. Students can literally rip their shirts off in public and become local heroes. They can write letters to a rival school’s athletic department and become national sensations. This is the only time in a person’s life when the term “fanatic” is unequivocally justifiable.

Sure, those moments have come around every now and again over the past three years. But those moments in a half-empty Bradley Center aren’t the same. As I move on from Marquette, I hope to return in years to come to full crowds – where the term “gold out” holds true and the student section spreads into the upper deck on weeknights. We’re all due for some new standout memories.

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