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Parting Shots

Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, May 12, 2004
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Senior sports writers recall memories of life on the UA beat

Ross Hammonds

It all comes down to one

I've crossed the finish line and got my checkered degree. Just like the bottom of a ninth inning, the bottom of my ninth drink makes me wish for another.

Alas, it is not so. So, in my four sun rotations in Tucson, I've seen many things and probably missed even more. My point is, I have concluded one thing from carrying out Wildcat sports desk orders: Everything reduces to one.

It's like all those math teachers said: A line is points in a linear fashion. My line has too many points and it definitely went up and down several times, but there is an end. Whether it be one game, one team or one too many, it all comes down to one. I also discovered an unvarying truth through the known universe: It's a constant; everything works out evenly.

Just read. It will all make sense, then. Hopefully.

One time I saw Ortege Jenkins run up and down the field without making a pass, then once I saw Jason Johnson make nothing but passes. Once our football team was 2-for-12 in field goals, and I once saw two body-painted guys run into the field goal net with greater precision.

I once watched the rise and then the fall of one coach's desert swarm defense to see the savior fall even harder, again. Now I've observed the rise of another. This time it's for real. Stop laughing.

The men's basketball team was once one win short of a national championship, then one win short of the second round, running up many peoples' bar tabs. Once a basketball coach lost everything off the court and then showed everyone how the line continues. The court in McKale agrees with me.

I once saw people trample each other for Arizona tickets, and I once saw people throwing away Wildcats tickets. I'll let you figure out what sports those were.

Softball once won one game that happened to be the National Championship and lost another one, which was also the National Championship. I once saw Jenny Finch in person, and then once I didn't, every other day here.

I once saw soccer triumph when no one thought they could, beating a ranked Washington team in double overtime. I also saw the team lose one game it should have won. I once saw the gymnastics team defy physics before my eyes, and that was before practice started.

I've even heard the men's rugby team was one game short of the playoffs - four years in a row.

I once considered graduating from the UA in four years, and then this one time I did.

- Ross Hammonds is a journalism senior.

Christopher Wuensch

Can't beat being courtside in McKale

A capacity house packed into Sancet Field on March 7 as the Arizona baseball team geared up to host Sacramento State. Few were there for the game, however.

Adult men, many of them wearing Chewbacca T-shirts with the slogan "Hair today, gone tomorrow," knocked down little girls and elderly men just to get their Cheez Doodle-laden fingers on the day's promotion.

Before the final pitch was thrown that afternoon, Christopher Wuensch bobble head dolls could be found on eBay.

OK, so we all have our dreams.

Nothing I've ever experienced in life has made me more proud, more frustrated and brought me to the brink of madness, elation and tears more than working for the Arizona Daily Wildcat. So describing my most memorable UA sports moments isn't as easy as it sounds.

Maybe it's winning the first and only UA wiffleball league Dead Day tourney with a dramatic bottom of the ninth walk-off homer?

Could it be the time we dropped a 6-pound medicine ball of the roof of the Student Recreation Center into a 12-gallon water bucket waiting below, just to see how high we could get the splash?

Nah, those are way too easy.

My favorite sports moment at the UA wasn't one defining play or spectacular finish, such as beating Washington in football last year. Rather, the sports moment that forever clings to all five of my senses was a series of events, the likes of which a select few ever get to experience.

After signing in at the media table for a men's basketball game in the back of McKale Center, you enter a long tunnel that lowers you into the bowels of the house that Lute built. As you descend down this gray, lifeless passageway, there is this sound that overwhelms you.

That sound is a collaboration of band, fans and impending basketball bedlam. The anticipation is unbearable, and long before the fans stand at attention for the national anthem, the tiny hairs on your neck and arms are already doing so.

It's the reason why my partner, Brett, and I would turn to each other at some point during every game and mutter the phrase:

"I'll never get tired of this."

I wouldn't trade that for anything in the world.

At least not until the Rec Center renames its upstairs sitting area the Rivera-Wuensch Lounge or lets me drop another medicine ball off its roof.

Ahh, the memories will last until I forget them.

- Christopher Wuensch is a journalism senior.

Shane Dale

Learning to like women's hoops

Women's basketball is boring. It's unnecessary. It's something to watch if nothing else is on TV.

Those were my sentiments as recently as five months ago - the same sentiments most students, especially guys, still have.

Then, I started covering the Arizona women's basketball team.

The first game I covered was a favor to my sports editor last semester. He said the usual women's hoops writer was unable to cover the Wildcats' exhibition game in McKale Center that night, and wanted to know if I could take care of it. Reluctantly, I agreed.

The Wildcats lost in overtime that night.

About a month later, I had another chance to cover the team. I wasn't overly thrilled about it, but I agreed. This time, they won.

The next day, I found myself perusing the Internet, checking out the team's record and stats. I looked over the upcoming schedule.

But I didn't realize it until I covered the first Pacific 10 Conference game, against Washington. It was a big game, and Arizona blew out the Huskies.

It finally hit me: I was becoming a fan. Not just of the team, but of head coach Joan Bonvicini: a tough, caring and cerebral motivator who is equally classy in victory and defeat.

I wanted the team to get noticed, not just because it was my beat and my responsibility, but because the Wildcats were good. For perhaps the first time in UA history, the Wildcat women were better than the men.

Then 4,000 fans cheered Arizona on to a five-point win against Stanford. Two days later, the Wildcats took the Pac-10 lead.

The Wildcats' season ended too soon for a team that won 24 games and tied for its first-ever regular season conference title. And it ended too soon for me, as I won't have the opportunity to come back and write about the team next year, when the Wildcats will probably be even better.

The good news is, I'll be able to come back next year and do what I wasn't allowed to do this year: stand and cheer. The Wildcats will be favorites to win the Pac-10 title outright next season, and I intend on being there when it happens.

To all underclassmen who haven't been to a UA women's basketball game: Go next year. They're good. They're talented. As sophomore center Shawntinice Polk said, "We're not the men, but we do have game."

You might surprise yourself. You might become a fan.

- Shane Dale is a political science senior.

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