After weeks of asking, Haden finally delivered a blog post he could get into.  He’s recently watched lacrosse, soccer, monster truck derby, dirt bike racing, sidecar racing, hockey and basketball, mostly college, not NBA really, he told me.  Also he’s tired of watching LeBron James, instead of highlights, on Sports Center.  Though in the next sentence he refuted that. These are his favorites for 2015. Here we go:

Haden’s Top 50 College (Mens) Teams

  1. Kentucky Wildcats
  2. Louisville Cardinals
  3. Arizon Wildcats
  4. Gonzaga Bulldogs *
  5. Arizona State Sun Devils
  6. Eastern Washington Eagles**
  7. Northern Iowa Panthers
  8. Auburn Tigers
  9. Baylor Bears
  10. Wisconsin Badgers
  11. Dayton Flyers
  12. Manhattan Jaspers
  13. Iona Gaels
  14. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
  15. Minnesota Golden Gophers
  16. Ohio State Buckeyes
  17. Western Kentucky HIll Toppers
  18. Eastern Kentucky Cowboys
  19. North Carolin Tar Heels
  20. Florida Gators
  21. Louisiana State Tigers
  22. Arklansas Razorbacks
  23. Grand Canyon Antelopes
  24. Florida State SEminoles
  25. Michigan Wolverines
  26. West Virginia Mountaineers
  27. Utah Utes
  28. Washington Huskies***
  29. Boise State Broncos
  30. Seton Hall PIrates
  31. Green Bay Phoenix (so confusing!)
  32. Valparaiso Crusaders
  33. Cleveland State Viking
  34. Akron Zips
  35. Kent State Golden Flashes
  36. Central MIchigan Chippewas
  37. Kansas Jayhawks
  38. Alabama Birmingam Blazers
  39. Clemson Tigers
  40. Boston College Eagles
  41. Northern Kentucky Norse (again confusing)
  42. Southern Methodist Mustangs
  43. Virginia Tech Hokies (Pokies and you turn yourself around….)
  44. Connecticut Huskies
  45. Albany Great Danes
  46. Hawaii Warriors
  47. Iowa State Cyclones
  48. Iowa Hawkeyes
  49. Winthrop Eagles
  50. Maryland Terrapins  
  51. *Duke (Haden gave a special honor to them for being the last place of every single college in the whole United States.  He doesn’t like them.)

******There were several big ball games in Spokane yesterday, some high school, and some college.  There was a Gonzaga men’s game, in which the last few minutes were excrutitaing to watch by app, I can’t imagine having been there. A tough ending of that game, 73-70 BYU, especially for the seniors last game at the Kennel.  The Gonzaga women, however secured a victory of 73-66 on the road at BYU.  EWU played earlier in the day, and also, sadly lost to Montana in another close final 77-76.  Those Montana fans are hard core, you don’t mess with them.  The lady Eags also fell to Montana with a final score of 69-59.  The Whitworth Pirates (go North Spokane!!) however, won 69-58, claiming their ninth consecutive NWC tournament crown, and the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Division III tournament. 

Bonus: A hockey game:

Invited by my husband, I attended a sporting event last evening, one I go to once a year.  The Spokane Chiefs hockey team was in town, it was Breast Cancer Awareness night, and since he’d given me a pink shirt from last years game, I was bound to go.  I had a good feeling about the game, it was going to be the best one I’d ever watched.  It really wouldn’t have taken much, given my previous encounters with, (less than four games total) and lack of interest in, the game.

The thing I least like, the brawls that (int)errupt ever few minutes, were mostly absent, it was a relatively calm game.  And lots of pink; pink lights, pink logos, pink on helmets, pink hockey sticks.  The Chiefs ended up embarassing the visiting team and rival, the Tri-City Americans, 8-0.  Best game ever, since the other thing I can’t get my head around is the extreme low score of hockey games.

I sat in between my husband, who I know, and a really nice man of about sixty-ish, who I didn’t know.  I watched the players skate, the puck slide, and listened to Mark and the stranger exchange thoughts on the game.  My husband tutors the hockey players who attend Ferris High in math once a week, so he was doing a good job encouraging them from the stands. 

Meanwhile, I asked the man ( I guess we didn’t exchange names) several questions about the game, and told him that I enjoyed his (calm and quiet) commentary, and that he could narrate the whole game for me, then it would be far more interesting.  

As the game progressed, I learned he was originally from Ontario, Canada.  He would chuckle quietly at certain points of the game, when the “kids” (they are all high school or early college age), did something well, kid like. He seemed to just have such a love of the game, and always interested in people’s stories, I squeezed in questions during the few rare quieter moments.  

He had played hockey his whole life, still played with the two guys manning the penalty boxes actually, and was on skates at the age of three, which I gather is totally normal anyway in the NorthEast and Canada.  (My brother in law is from Kearny, NJ and played hockey growing up.  I suspect he’ll have my nephew Hudson up on skates come his third birthday this fall.)  

His family made an ice hockey rink in their backyard, which was when I told him I’d heard Gonzaga senior Kevin Pangos talk about how his family built an ice rink in their back yard, so he and his sister would hit pucks for hours. I asked him if ice rinks in backyards in Canada is like pools in backyards of California.  He said, “It’s not a real great selling point,” with a smile.  

He ended up playing hockey in the same league as the Chiefs and then he shared that he wasn’t going to be good enough to get into the NHL, so he “went to university and earned myself a degree.” 

In the third period, the Chiefs were ahead, the game had slowed down, and my new friend said that it looked like they were slacking off.  He was annoyed with the coach or the referees, and I asked him if he had reffed or coached at some point.  He said that he coached when “the kids were 16, 18, around this age”.  And then he said that at the end of the season he got many cards from parents thanking him because he had made the season so fun and positive.

“I just wanted them to have fun with the game, the team.” he said.  It was something that has always meant alot to him.  I said that that was exactly what I think sports is about when all is said and done.

The game was over eventually, and he left with a quick, kind goodbye.  Mark and I left the stadium into the ice cold air of the night.  He said that that seat next to me, that the Canadian sat in, had been empty the entire season, no one ever sat there.  He was the first person he’d seen in that spot.

My thoughts about hockey had begun to thaw, and last night in the space of a game, a stranger left me with a warmth for the spirit of the game I know so little about.

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