Friday, February 25, 2011

Double your pleasure, double your fun

By Wally Mersereau

At the Fast Break Club meeting after the Oregon State game I was presented with the 2011 Margie Santillan Fan Spirit Award. It is an honor to become the latest in a long line of recipients who have participated in and contributed to the strong fan base for Stanford women’s basketball. At the same time, as I commented at the meeting, this is an easy award to win. To paraphrase Woody Allen’s quip, 90% of what you have to do to win is just show up.

I haven’t been showing up as long as many others. I’m fairly new to the game. So I’ve been trying to make up for lost time and lost opportunities to see the Stanford women play and Tara and her staff coach. I never knew Margie and I don’t know how she discovered women’s basketball. But I share her love for this ever-changing team and the game it plays.

I discovered the game while TV channel surfing when I came across a Tennessee game where I was dazzled by the talent and athleticism of Chamique Holdsclaw. I had no idea women could play like that. Eventually, I learned that Stanford had a good team and was close to my home in San Mateo, allowing me to see games in person. I attended a few games at Maples, sitting on the hard, backless general admission benches, then a few more, and finally became a season ticket holder with a regular padded seat and arm rests. A couple of years later I joined the Fast Break Club and my life changed. I started planning my life from October to April around the team’s schedule.

When I told my son how much pleasure I was having watching the Stanford women at Maples, he said: “You know, if you went to the away games you could see twice as many”. He was right. I was able to double my pleasure and double my fun by hitting the road. This season I expect to see every game the Stanford women play.

So here’s my tip to you, dear reader: enhance your life and have more fun by traveling to some Stanford away games. You may not be able to go to all of them, but with a little planning and a little effort you can go to some. There is simply no reason you cannot go to at least one road game. You may have friends or family in a Pac-10 or pre-season city, allowing you to combine a social visit with a game and giving you the opportunity to introduce others to the wonders of women’s college basketball.

The most popular trip is to Oregon. With Eugene and Corvallis only 30 minutes apart, attending both road games there is easy and the Willamette Valley is beautiful. Local Stanford alums and the Fast Break Club’s travel committee always arrange some enjoyable events around the Oregon games. Second in popularity is the trip to Los Angeles, easy to get to, and usually providing the chance to see some stiff competition on the court. Wherever you go, even to remote Pullman, you will visit other college campuses and college towns and experience their varying ambiance.

At away games you have the feeling that you are in on a secret, part of a small elite group that shares in the exotic ritual of supporting the remarkable Stanford women. You will astonish strangers when they learn you are not a parent or grandparent, but just a fan who travels to watch the team. More than once I’ve been told by a stranger or opposing team fan: “That’s amazing!” You will be able to see the team play in red or black uniforms and not just the same old white ones worn at Maples. And sometimes, when the stars align, you will find yourself staying at the team’s hotel, riding an elevator with Nneka or Kayla or Jeanette, or being on the same flight as the team and sitting next to Lindy or Sara.

Finally, by traveling to at least one away game you will become eligible to win the Margie Santillan Fan Spirit Award. Give it a try! Extend your horizon! Start planning now! You will find it’s an enjoyable and satisfying experience. I guarantee it!

Go, Stanford!

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