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Commentary: A long, strange trip

Dan Komyati
By Dan Komyati
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday Apr. 30, 2002

Editorās Note: This is part one of a two-part goodbye column by Dan Komyati, the Wildcatās softball and Icecats reporter. Check tomorrowās paper for what heās not going to miss about UA.

Not to sound cliche or like an acid-warped Dead Head, but what a long, strange, trip to Tucson it has been for this Yankees die-hard from Jersey. And just when I had almost figured out which direction the doors in the Franklin building basement swing, itās time for me to move on and for my career to blow up like an al-Qaida training camp. Congrats to my fellow graduates who managed to finish in four (or six-and-a-half), and thank you, Mr. Gardner, for deciding to stay for four. Before I get more emotional than a ćReal Worldä confessional, there are some things about Arizona athletics ÷ and even just this school in general ÷ that will be a little harder than others to leave behind:

  • Just my luck that the year before I come to school here, the basketball team wins the NCAAs, and then ÷ one year after my departure ÷ light covers and rubber bullets should be flying on Fourth Avenue once again. Enjoy a season of watching the best point guard in the country, the best small (point) forward, the nationās top returning sophomore class, and the countryās best freshman trio all sharing the same court. And donāt get me started about the wizardry of legendary coach · Josh Pastner. Damn, maybe I should fail the UDWPE this summer and cover hoops next year.

  • It would have been fun watching first-hand an Arizona football team come of age and contend next season in the Pac-10. In 2001, ESPNās ćThe Seasonä brought us way closer to a 5-6 team than most sports fans needed to be. But it did show the upside of a squad that will return most of its talent as last season wore down. ćCompete!ä in 2002 fellas, because that early season trip to Madison is looking harder than Chinese algebra. And no one wants to see coach Mac bust up any more chalkboards.

  • The winningest and most dominant of all UA athletic programs, Arizona softball, truly is also one of the classiest. With Olympic-caliber talent year in and year out, itās refreshing to meet athletes minus the egos or arrogance. When people talk about the game this season that ended senior Jennie Finchās NCAA-record 60 consecutive victories, many will remember the two home runs that did in UAās All-American girl. Yet the image that Iāll be stuck with is that of Finch after the game ÷ as emotionally drained and distraught as ever ÷ hanging around to make sure she had signed an autograph or said hello to seemingly her entire throng of Hillenbrand Stadium admirers. Best of luck in Oklahoma City, ladies.

  • East Coast Super Subs. OK, so this is a sandwich shop, but any sports fan should appreciate the dŽcor inside paying tribute to the sports heroes from the greatest slice of land on the planet. The owners are lucky I know them, ācause Iāve been tempted for four years now to rip crap off the walls and haul ass. But I thank them, as itās been really nice to be able to hang out at a place that appreciates the Garden State and simply laughs at the severely misinformed who actually say Jersey is the armpit of America. Duh, thatās South Jersey.

  • Having played ice hockey for 14 years, I sure wish I had played for the Icecats rather than written about them, but then who wouldāve been able to go to the bars six nights a week? And speaking of boozing unconditionally, where else can you cheer UA athletes while inebriated and not have to worry about being chased out of the arena by UAPD? There are more mullets and Miller Lite flowing through ćThe Madhouse on Main Streetä than your average monster truck rally, but does anything compare to hearing ćASU sucksä chanted 147 times ÷ before the puck even drops ÷ when we are playing Utah State?

  • Bear Down Arizona. Agreed that the story behind the fight song is wonderfully moving, but seriously, how tacky and cheesy did you think Arizonaās theme was the first time you heard it? Almost as ridiculous as those male cheerleader characters. Yet somehow, after four years, that tune now gets me more spirited with Wildcat pride than a drunk Wilbur running his mouth at OāMalleys (how many times have we seen that?). These days, all you need to do is fill me with a fifth of Beam, and you could send me to a freaking UA underwater basket-weaving competition, and if a poolside crowd exists, Iāll have everyone singing in unison.

  • And last but not least, some final things that I will miss as my days out West wind down:

    Thirsty Thursdays at Tucson Electric Park, the drunk trolley from my house to football games, UofA(ss) shorts, the new student union (should be done when the rest of my boys graduate in 2006), the bearable ćdryä heat that manages to give me swamp ass every day, my babyās mama, Los Betos at 3 a.m. ÷ make that all 24-hour Mexican food ÷ not remembering the basketball games at McKale, and, of course, all of the tremendous athletes at UA who give dorks like me (and Connor Doyle) something to talk about.


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