Saturday, February 25, 2012

Time and Overtime

They say you learn from your mistakes. What doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger and all those other clich├ęs that are supposed to make you feel better about losing. But when it comes to life lessons, do we have the time to correct our mistakes before the final buzzer?
            In sports world, athletes have coaches pointing out the areas they need to improve on. In life we call them parents, mentors, older siblings and sometimes friends. Athletes watch video before playing their competition to learn the other team’s strength and weaknesses. While we often don’t see our mistakes until they end up on YouTube the next morning. All the while, athletes, practice day in and day out on the same plays or techniques they intend on using to win the game. For many of us, “life is like a box of chocolates, never knowing what you’re gunna get.”
            Down by two in the last moments of Game 3 of the 1970 NBA Finals, Jerry West infamously dribbled past Walt Frazier and heaved a 60-foot shot that went in like it was a free throw. While this was a clutch moment, ultimately, the Lakers lost in overtime.
In the 2009 Wimbledon, Roger Federer during the second set won five straight points in the tiebreak against Andy Roddick down 6-2 to win the set and even the game at a set all. Both Federer and Roddick played 29 games of no break tennis until finally Federer proved to be the most clutch and won the match.
A bit of local history, on November 8, 2001 Roy Miller High School beat Mary Carroll High School 38 to 37 after 8 years of losing to the Tigers in football. The Buccaneers won the game by a field goal in over time also making it their first time to the play offs in 25 years.
The place: The Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas. The players: Martin Laird, Cameron Percy and Jonathon Byrd, each tied at 21-under after regulation. They played three sudden-death playoff holes, each taking turns teetering on the edge of disaster. With darkness fast approaching, they agreed to play one more hole. Byrd stepped up to the tee on the 204-yard par-3 17th, and smacks the ball over the lake, past the sand trap onto the green where it rolled majestically into the hole for a sudden death ace.
As far as games are concerned, mistakes can be made and still made up for in over-time.  As for life, it’s better explained in the wise words of a certain Marshall Mathers, “you only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow, this opportunity comes once in a lifetime.” There is no over-time in the game of life so when that final buzzer rings make sure you’re MVP.  

A league of Our Own

With all things in life there will be those that motivate you to be better, possibly the best and things that leave you exhausted yet underwhelmed. Meaning you aren’t always going to be pinch-hitting the ninth inning of a deciding World Series game. Sometimes you’ll be waiting in the dugout. Regardless of how important or tedious your position may seem the whole point of a team is to work together to be greater than all your solo counterparts. Why doesn’t this logic hold true in the classroom?
            I’ve been lucky enough to experience classes with professors that walk in the first day and immediately instill the feeling that their class will be the one you actually gain something from, if you put in the time and effort. Then there are the other types of classes: the professor you can’t bring yourself to respect course, the homework and tests all seem to be just time killers instead of learning aids course or the required for your major but I-never-plan-on-using-the-material course. It’s these classes I find my fellow Islanders surfing Facebook and Twitter, among other sites, the most. The worst part about these classes is, I lose interest in attending class, I don’t feel the need to participate in class discussions and I rarely put in the proper study time for the exams. So surprisingly, or ok not so surprisingly, these classes often earn me my lowest grades at the end of the semester.
            I think many students, including myself, are going about this class thing all wrong. We lead ourselves to believe this class sucks therefore we do the bare minimum to pass. Instead we should look at each class as being on a team. This means getting to know the students who sit around you. Asking and answering questions when the professor begins to sound like Ferris Bueller’s economics teacher and offering to share your knowledge to the kid that just muttered how stupid the class is after receiving a low grade.
Universities don’t earn merit based on an individual’s success, but by the overall success of every graduating class. Instead think of your mundane classes like Adam Sandler’s The Waterboy. The football team decides they will always suck until an unlikely outcast, Bobby Boucher, inspires his teammates to believe in themselves and of course the beauty of high-quality H20. While the team sucked, as may your class, they had to play as if they weren’t the worst team in Louisiana in order to become the best. We have the privilege, to be on the same “team” as some of the greatest scholars studying in South Texas, utilize it!  This is a wake up call to the professors, the coaches of the classroom, as well. Just as an athlete needs a coach the student cannot become the master if there is no master to succeed.  

Stalemate Tailgate

I remember thinking, in highschool, the only good thing about pep rallies was skipping them to get out of school early. It really wasn't until my senior year, when I became the mascot and took on the responsibility of boosting school spirit, that I fully appreciated having school spirit and what it meant to support a team.

      Then came college and all the glory of the "adult" pep rally, better known as tailgating. While I was attending the University of Texas at Austin I made sure never to miss a tailgating event. It was a magical time where total strangers would gather to share laughs, debates, beers and BBQ. However the greatest aspect about tailgating, isn't the beer and BBQ although those are an extremely close second, it's the sense of really being apart of something. The rush of cheering on your team as they prepare to defend your honor against the rivals, like troops going to war. I think tailgating is a way to connect the fans to the players.

       I have to admit it was a real shame when I came to Texas A&M University- Corpus Christi and found that tailgating didn't really stand for the same things. The Islanders that actually do show up to tailgate appear to use the time to build animosity towards the other team instead of showing unrelenting love for their own. When your team goes in to battle for a win feeling unsupported, they go in wanting a win for themselves. They can't draw that extra drive that only comes from knowing hundreds of people are counting on them. Supporting your school and showing school spirit is the best way to show university faculty that you value your school and therefore should be seen as an important aspect to university life not just another body in a classroom. I look at tailgating like an old childhood playground favorite- Red Rover. You call for your opponent to come over and dare them to break "the chain" (your hands clasped to teammates'). Try as your opponent might if they cannot break your chain they are forced to become one with your team. This should be tailgating. Your opponent cannot break your support for your team therefore they must respect them for gaining such a loyal following. 

       Sports and life are one in the same, you are going to win some and lose some. In the end, it's like a wise man once said, "Those who do not stand for something, will fall for anything." So stand at your tailgate, inspire your fellow Islanders with love for their team and let your rivals know we will fall to no one. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Ice Ice Baby

Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend my first IceRays game coincidently it was also my very first hockey game. I had always found hockey to be seemingly slow and dull. Dudes prancing around an ice rink whacking each other with sticks, yeah that was an instant channel change. However, I had a friend visiting from New York that week and he swore up and down hockey was the only way to go, so I figured we’d both try something new and cheer on the IceRays.
The moment we got to the ABC a couple in front of us had two spare tickets they offered up free of charge. So far I loved this sport. We grabbed ourselves an ice-cold brew (no pun intended) and made our way to our seats, directly behind the glass and right next to the penalty box. It hadn’t been more than two minutes before a fight broke out among two of the players. Gloves off, fists flying, blood staining the white ice- brutality at its finest. I sipped my beer and settled in excitedly as the crowd rooted and roared. It wasn’t long into the game that I began to really appreciate how gracefully these guys were gliding around controlling this tiny puck on ice. Then out of nowhere, BAM, they would just smack straight into each other causing the crowd and myself to whip into a state of frenzy. I was in love. Hockey not only gave me the excitement I’d been looking for in a sport but it also some how brought the crowd together in a way I had yet to experience in Corpus. It wasn’t the beer or the drop in temperature either.
I realized just how relatable hockey was. As a student I often find myself drifting from class to class as quickly and effortlessly as possible. It isn’t until someone shouts my name, bumps into me in the breezeways or a long boarder cuts me off that I even notice I’m walking around a campus on an island. I think we are all just trying to glide through our time here until the inevitable “body check” occurs and we are thrown into a spiral of frustration; the metaphorical fist fight. I fight studying early for exams. I fight the project I’ve been given all semester to complete, until a week before D-day. Sometimes I even fight the effort to give my fellow Islanders a friendly smile. It’s not until you have fought all these things that you realize you have placed yourself in the penalty box.
Maybe we all just need the occasional support from the crowd, the shouting of encouraging words and the occasional pounding on the glass. This means no more walking coma. Ace the exam, get to the project promptly, and smile at strangers- hat trick. 


I was recently reading “Sports Page Magazine” and was pleasantly surprised to see the Islanders had made the cut of the “Top 100 Most Unique Collegiate Mascots.” However the article had nothing to actually say about Izzy or his legend and because one of the first stories I ever wrote for the Island Waves was on the tiki-masked man himself, I decided to take the chance once again to talk about Texas A&M University- Corpus Christi’s unique spirit.
            Not long ago (2004), Tarpie left the school’s spirit in Izzy’s hands in order to return to the sea. They say it’s better down where it’s wetter, but perhaps that’s a marine biologist’s bias. Regardless, Izzy worked to please alumni as well as hype current and in-coming students, which for going to school on an island would seem like a pretty easy thing to do, but he had his work cut out for him. After about seven years, however, Izzy’s seaweed hair and liberal grass skirt were seen as “creepy” by some, while others felt Izzy’s laid back demeanor portrayed the school in a negative way.  Heaven forbid we let today’s society see us as too laid back. Thankfully instead of sending Izzy back to life in a hut, he was given a pair of board shorts and a hair cut. While I was a bit upset anyone felt the need to civilize Izzy, I also know how hard it is to wear a skirt on the daily and expect to be taken seriously.
            I still hear how creepy and weird Izzy is, from time to time, but isn’t that exactly why we love him? He’s our spirit. He’s the laid back happy go lucky beach bum we all hope to be, after we’ve received degrees and high paying jobs to buy the perfect beach villa. My only concern with Izzy has always only been his fair skin. For being an Islander the man rocks the SPF better than a lifeguard. This doesn’t make him creepier than the UC Santa Cruz banana slug though.
            Whether Izzy is pale, or creepy, a hippy, a beach bum or whatever, he is the spirit of our island, the face of the student body, the skill that dominates our competition and the hug of a friend when times get tough. Would you rather be the Volunteers or the Friars or even worse, the Lumberjacks? So the next time you want to hate on your spirit ask yourself this, is it better to be remembered for originality or be characterless and conform only to float through life and then fade away?