Rant with Randi: 30 years later...

As parents, we spend a lot of time working with our kids to help them figure out where they want to go to college, but for my husband and I, this choice should be simple. You see we went to Villanova, need I say more?

Unless you live under a rock, you know that Villanova beat North Carolina — in one of the most exciting games ever — to win the NCAA championship. To say that we were delirious with excitement wouldn’t do it justice. When you go to Villanova, a smallish, Catholic school, with a large group of Irish Catholic kids from the East Coast, you develop lifelong relationships by drinking beer and cheering for Villanova basketball games. To quote Jay Wright, “Villanovans do three things really well, pray together, watch basketball together and drink together.” Basketball at Nova was the epicenter of all that was great at our school. Even if you didn’t like sports, you went to basketball games. And when Nova made it to the final 8 (when we were there), everything on campus was shut down to support the Cats. I remember when the priests cancelled classes. That was beyond cool. Students like myself watched in the quad with the masses, while students like my husband, jumped in tiny cars, piled in seven or eight broke guys, and drove wherever they had to go to support our team. At Villanova, the alumni pay it forward. If somehow, you were able to get yourself to a game, the alumni were helping you with tickets, rooms, food, beer and anything else you needed. I can’t imagine our college life without Villanova basketball.

Here it is, 30 years later, and we are still very close with all of our college friends. My husband still has “group texts” with his buddies whom he speaks to on a weekly basis – especially during basketball season. This brings me to the magic of the past few days that my daughter just got to spend with my husband at the NCAA final 4. Nova Nation was in full force in Houston this past weekend. I barely have words to describe her experience. She met several of our friends, roommates and sorority/fraternity brothers and sisters that we went to school with. Some of these friends, we haven’t seen in 30 years. When people say “Once-in-a-lifetime experience,” this truly was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I can’t stop imagining what she had to be thinking after seeing my husband and all of our friends still so close after 30 years? It was an unforgettable experience for him as well. I wish I could describe how you feel, when you love something so much, and you see other people who love it just as much. When you see you dreams come true, somehow it means so much more. I received texts all night long, and the only thing I could say was, “I have no words.”

On that note, I was here in San Diego with our son. I was watching the game at a bar with another set of the greatest group of people I know, and it couldn’t have been a more joyous night. My head was literally about to pop off my body all night; so when Chris Jenkins, aka Big Smoove, hit that game-winning shot, I just remember breaking into tears for all of it. Because I love our old friends, I love our new friends, and I’ve never been more proud of a group of kids who played “Villanova Basketball” on Monday night. The core of that phrase being: respect, humility, unselfishness, and solidarity. When I think about Villanova basketball, I think of a class act all the way around.

I’ve watched the replay of the final seconds about 50 times because it’s just that good. We’ve been on a blackout type of high for several days now, and it never gets old. I can’t say that experience sealed the deal for our daughter, but if I were her I would have left that stadium, confetti in my hair, smoke from the fireworks still in my nostrils, begging to find a way to be a Villanovan, because damn they are some of the best people around.

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