This may sound corny, but there’s something special about Bradley basketball.
For some, it could be the dedicated fans, the hardworking players or the atmosphere at Carver Arena that makes Bradley basketball one-of-a-kind.
But for me, it’s about tradition and family.
The Braves’ journey to the Sweet 16 my freshman year was one of the most thrilling moments of my college career.
I’m a senior now, and I can only think of a few other memories that can even compare to the excitement of the team’s success.
During Spring Break that year, my dad took me to see the Braves take on fourth-seeded Kansas in Auburn Hills, Mich., during the NCAA Tournament.
No one there even knew Bradley existed – until we won.
I remember a lot of things about that day. Sure, I remember the final score (it was 77-73 for those who were interested) and I remember the players (Marcellus Sommerville had 21 points). But, mostly, I think about sitting next to my brother rooting for our favorite team.
I think about my mom singing along to the Bradley fight song.
And I think about my dad.
I had never seen him jump that high or scream that loud in my life.
And even though the Braves haven’t made it back to the NCAA Tournament since then, I still know how much Bradley basketball means to my dad.
I can say that I know the players and the team’s record. I know some stats and can name the new recruits.
But mostly I know the number of games my dad has been to during the last few years. I know how many miles he has driven to watch the Braves play and to spend time with his daughter at the games.
I know how many T-shirts he owns that proudly display the Braves logo and I know the number of times he can sing along to the fight song before it gets annoying.
I know how much he loves Bradley basketball. But, mostly, I know how much he loves me and how much he loves sharing something in common with me not many people can share.
My dad is a Bradley alumnus, and you could say my family has a pretty strong affiliation with basketball.
My brother coaches Div. I college basketball, and it’s all I hear about when I go home.
But Bradley basketball is something unique I can share with my dad. It is a connection only we have in common. It gives us a reason to call each other and see each other more often.
Tonight is the first game of the season, and it’s no surprise my parents are making the three-hour car ride to watch the Braves play.
I’ve waited all semester for the season to begin, but now that it’s beginning I’m kind of sad. This is the last season of Bradley basketball I will witness as a student here.
That means no more cheap season tickets. And I won’t ever again be part of the Red Sea.
Next year, I plan on going to graduate school. And wherever I go, my dad will be the fan cheering the loudest in the stands of the first home basketball game.
But I will always remember Bradley basketball as one thing that brought my dad and me closer together.
So, in the spirit of tradition, I’m begging the players to try to make it as far in post-season play as they can.
I’m hoping for another NCAA Tournament run.
Sarah Raidbard is a senior English and Spanish major from Skokie. She is the Scout editor-in-chief.
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