A UVA Love Story
So Im Daniel, 35 years old and grew up in Stuarts Draft, VA just 45 minutes from C’ville. I have a wife and a girlfriend……Ok, so the wife and the girlfriend are the same woman. It will make more sense later, haha, just thought that would be a nice attention grabbing intro…
Ive always been a UVA fan, but I never followed seriously until 2013-2014 when I took notice that something had changed….prior to that time being raised in the Shenandoah Valley I was born a fan of the local teams. So Virginia and Virginia Tech was always equally liked in our house. Me and my Dad would always root for the team that had the best chance of making it the furthest in the post season. So in football that meant I usually would pull for Tech….Embarrassing I know. For basketball, well I don’t really have memories of Virginia being in the post season, or being any good, so I just didn’t follow along due to lack of interest. You could accuse me of being a fair weather fan, however I can say I sat through 5 strait years of NCAA tourney heartbreak. And after experiencing that empty hollow feeling in my stomach each year, I always was ready and excited for the next year to begin. Last years championship win was the most fulfilling sporting experience I have ever witnessed, especially after 5 years of disappointment in the NCAA tournament. (And 30 rough years of being a Redskins fan).
So back to the 2013-2014 season when I started watching UVA Basketball religiously. I was actually on a backpacking trip around the world at that time. I began with a road trip through Europe. I bought a cheap used car and lived out of it for 3 months while splitting traveling cost with various random friends who wanted to join. After 3 months on the road I began to to get burned out with traveling in this exhausting manner. It was Autumn of 2013 and it was beginning to get cold out. So I ditched the car and bought a plane ticket to Nepal where it was a lot cheaper and I could just relax for a while and not worry about money.
In Nepal I met the love of my life on October 19, 2013. Her name was Laura from the Netherlands. We traveled around for 5 months together to Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and finally we ended our trip in New Zealand. It was during this 5 month trip on the other side of the world that I took notice to the success Tony Bennett was having. I became a master at fighting annoying popups as I struggled to stream these UVA games on my computer. I could not get enough. Even not having internet access did not deter me. I can still remember how me and Laura were traveling/living out of a van in New Zealand. On game days/nights I would park our camper van in library parking lots and make sure I was within WIFI range to stream the game. Im glad I was instantly so fanatical about this team. That year we finish the ACC regular season 1st and beat Duke in the ACC tournament. I became an addict.
Since that trip, I have been watching religiously ever since. Somehow Laura has dealt pretty well with me converting to a UVA zealot, but Ive failed in fully converting her into being a passionate follower like myself. She only enjoys ice skating and singing competitions……However! She did watch the entire championship game and fully enjoyed it! So that made me happy.
Today me and Laura live two lives. We spend half the year in America and half the year in the Netherlands. We do this because we like to split our time between both sets of family and friends and fortunately our work situation allows for it.
I like to tell people I scoop mud for a living and Laura pulls weeds. What that translates to is Laura’s father owns his own landscaping company here in the Netherlands, so we always help him during the winter and summer months. During the spring and fall, we fly back to America and do the mud scooping. What I mean by that is Ive owned my own unique business since I was 18. Every year we clean out approximately 120 Koi/goldfish ponds in Virginia. My clients only need me in the spring and fall, so it has given me lots of freedom to travel around during the slow seasons.
So about having a wife and a girlfriend. Me and Laura have been legally married for a few years now, but we still have not had a wedding yet. We got married at the justice of the peace mostly for immigration benefits, but our relationship is obviously legit. Just trying to plan a wedding takes lots of work, and our schedule is quite hectic. So we usually just refer to ourselves as “Boyfriend” and “Girlfriend” rather than “Husband” and “Wife”. The added benefit of this is it makes you feel younger than you actually are! Also, let’s just say my parents are quite traditional, so they refer to Laura as my “Wife” and my friends call Laura my “Girlfriend”. However, I call her “Vrouw” which means “Woman” in Dutch. She’s a good sport about it, and I treat her well. Together we have mastered living this unusual “back and forth double life”.
So thats a bit about my past. Presently, I have watched every UVA game this year. Since Im currently in a different time zone, I wake up usually at 2am to watch a 8pm UVA basketball game. Yeah, Ive become pretty fanatically dedicated, even though I still have never watched a UVA basketball Game live. Heck, I haven’t even stepped inside JPJ before! Hopefully that changes soon.
Ive asked myself why have I become so fanatical about this team? Certainly their massive amounts of success has attracted me. But I know that the hook goes quite a bit deeper. Tony Bennett is such a great human being. He’s genuine and wholesome. You can see he loves the game, but he loves and cares about the players that surround him even more. He has his priorities strait. He truly has such a strong positive effect on so many lives and Im so proud of the role model he has become. This coach has suffered the most embarrassing loss in the history of the sport, and he handled it with such grace and character. Somehow after such humiliation they turn around and won it all in such dramatic fashion. This is the greatest sports redemption story thats ever taken place and it could not of happened to a better more deserving and humble individual. Ive never met Tony Bennett or any of the players from the team but they feel like family to me. When i cheer for these guys, it feels like Tony is an uncle of mine, and the boys are my bros. I also have this sense that I desperately want the “Good Guys” to win. I really only have positive adjectives to describe Bennett. He as a man of principles has giving me deeper reasons to want to see his team victorious. So when I say I “Love” UVA……I really truly mean it!