Saturday, April 4, 2015

Sports Fandom 101: The Importance of a Roster

Once you walk through security into Oracle Arena, the home of the Golden State Warriors, a staff member may ask you a question. It's an important one, so pay attention. They may or may not look you in the eye. Do you want a roster? My answer is always "yes." 

Recently, at a De La Salle boys' basketball playoff game, my dad turned to me and said "it's too bad they don't have rosters anymore." I feel the same way; I'm my father's daughter on this one. At a SI boys varsity volleyball game earlier that week, I wanted a roster myself. I did what any (pre)millennial would do. I pulled one up on my iPhone. "Problem solved Dad," I said. A roster is an essential component for watching a game. Perhaps it separates true sports fans from spectators.

It's important to know who the players are. It helps to know their height, weight and age. Rosters in professional sports will list the college where the athlete once played. I enjoy reviewing this. I also look to see that there is but one athlete still competing that is older than me. That person is much harder to find.  

One thing I love about the rosters created for sports teams at St. Ignatius College Prep in San Francisco, where I teach and coach, is that it also lists where the athlete went to grade school! It's as if this player gets to represent some of the storied and historic parochial schools of San Francisco. It's hard not to love the athlete from St. Anne of the Sunset or St. Vincent de Paul a little more than the one from San Francisco Day School. Sorry, I admit my bias.

Looking for a connection to the athletes and teams we admire is a natural thing. Catholic-Christianity is so rooted in community and in today's too often disconnected world, sometimes our schools is all we have. 

So it should come as no surprise that I have been rooting extra hard for the Notre Dame men's and women's basketball teams this year. Steve Vasturia a 6'5" guard who looks like he is 12 years old, graduated from St. Joseph's Prep in Philadelphia. A close friend of mine does all he can to "Rep the Prep" on the left much so that he connected me with a faculty member there, who has become a friend. Thank you Frank for always being so generous with your time and helping us navigate through Philly traffic.
Vasturia was a clutch 3-point shooter in the post-season.
And a great touch as a ball handler.
Is it me or does he look younger now?

For the past three summers, I have taken students on a week-long service trip to the Romero Center in Camden, NJ. We make a point of visiting the Prep on West Girard Street so my students can see our shared tradition. Something clicks when they see the same statue of Ignatius of Loyola on their campus and  when they read our common mottos of AMDG and Men (and Women) for and with Others in their hallways. You better believe I will be seeking to purchase a Prep basketball t-shirt from their Bookstore in August.

And watching the Notre Dame women's team for the past three years has been that much more exciting because a junior guard, Hannah Huffman went to my alma mater, Carondelet High School. I got a chance to meet Hannah after the Irish defeated the UCLA Bruins at the historic Pauley Pavillon. I felt like I had known her a long time and really enjoyed our conversation. It's was a though I were talking to one of my own friends that I made back in high school. Common teachers, experiences, traditions and path from Concord CA to South Bend have a way of doing that. I wrote an article about "Huff" for our alumni newsletter, The Carondeletter. Can't wait for fellow alumnae to know more about her.
At it best, sports offers us a platform by which to represent some much more than just ourselves. A jersey doesn't just bear a school's name, it also represents a family name. And we never get to the next level without the places and people who helped us get there in the it our grade school, our high school or our college. It's important to know who we are and where we come from. A roster is just a simple reminder of that.

Photo Credits
Steve V

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