Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Winless and Cold in Columbus

Columbus is a nice city, a mixture common in the Midwest of brick buildings—some built in the 1800’s—and flashy modern glass and steel buildings built more recently. High Street (not “Main”) is the major thorough fare and historically the road traveled by explorers and politicians from the East to St. Louis. Now a free shuttle bus travels along High, from German Village to Short North, past the limestone State House, for the benefit of residents and tourists like me. (Short North is the area between the OSU campus and Nationwide Arena.)

Food wise, Columbus must be famous for two specialties: Jeni’s ice cream, which offers flavors like roasted strawberry buttermilk, whiskey pecan, and pear Riesling; and Buckeyes, a chocolate confection nearly spherical in shape with a peanut butter center visible on top—a look-alike to the botanical version.

The weather was cold while I was there for this pilgrimage to St. John Arena where Tara fueled her fame as a basketball coach. Before Stanford’s game against OSU, Tara was honored as a former coach and member of the Hall of Fame and met by several of her past OSU players, including our Amy Tucker. The cab driver referred to St. John Arena as “the old one,” and, built in 1956, it did indeed have old wooden, back-less bleachers on the floor level and only marginally comfortable seats above. The Jumbo Tron installed above center court failed to display the correct team statistics, but at least showed the progressing score and individual player stats. (The OSU men’s team was playing in a newer OSU basketball arena.)

St. John Arena seats about 13,000, and we had nearly 6,000 in attendance for this Friday night game. Amy’s Ohio family, Tara’s sister Beth, and a large contingent of Shannon Coffee’s family and friends from Dayton were among the attendees. The OSU fans were knowledgeable and pleasant, but quiet compared with our fans in Maples.

Although the first half of the game was promising for our young team, Stanford could not keep up with OSU’s rebounding or scoring. We led only in turnovers. The best part of our game was Brit’s ability to play well despite her possible ankle injury last week.

Our Sunday game was in Nationwide Arena, which is new, big and beautiful—fitting for the site of the 2018 Final Four. The game against UConn did not go well; however, our rebounding improved.

An interesting trip, and I’m glad I went. But I’m so glad to be back in warmer California.

Harriet Benson
Author, Boosters Always Win! The Fans of Women’s Basketball