Introduce Yourself

Today I was asked to share my story since Ive become a passionate LRA member. So I thought I’d just start a new topic for those members interested in sharing a few details about themselves and interested in learning who your fellow members are. Ive noticed that as I become accustomed to your avatar, and read many of your conversations, my mind begins to subconsciously fill in the blanks with a vague fictitious story of who you might be. So rather than speculate, maybe anyone willing could share a few details about themselves. Could be two sentences, or several paragraphs. What ever suits you is fine.

First, The main thing to share would be, Who you are as a fan? You might want to give us some details like, When did you start following UVA sports and why or how passionate you are about the team? Also, What is your relation to the program? Etc.

Next, if you like, you can share a few personal life details if you wish, but not necessary.

No pressure and dont feel obligated to share if not interested. Ive posted a long story because I have lots of time to burn right now, and I just felt like it, but a sentence or two is also adequate.

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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!

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Great story and great thread idea here! Very VERY well put in the last paragraph there- I completely agree. I’ll post my story a little later when I have the chance to sit down and write it, but I can guarantee that it won’t be as long as that was

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Thanks Ben, And looking forward to your story. Could also be just a few simple details. Either way, no pressure. Im just sitting at the house these days eager to get back to work in a few weeks…Lots of free time to burn on my passion.

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1980 graduate of Engineering School but fan before attending. Earliest memory is NCSU basketball game in Uhall and watching this tall giant of a man with tiny head named Burleson. Had football and basketball season tickets for many years before having 3 kids and moving to California. Came back to Richmond in 2003 and go to as many games as I can. Some memorable games I attended include:

  • Ralph Sampson led undefeated team against Notre Dame in Chicago
  • Thomas Jones led football game against BYU in Utah
  • Meadowlands football game against Notre Dame
  • Win over FSU on last play goal line stand
  • Richard Morgan going off for 36 points against UNC
  • Ralph against Perkins, Worthy, and Jordan in Uhall
  • Sean’s OT thriller against Duke in JPJ
  • Ga Tech loss on long field goal when we were undefeated and ranked #1

Some great memories. Always been a recruiting nut, religiously reading The Poop Sheet and Bob Gibbons newsletters back in the day. In 1994 in the early days of the Internet dabbled for a short time with website called Orange and Blue and even wrote a couple of recruiting interviews.

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The Poop Sheet was genius back then.

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I have so much I want tu say but im learning not tu be overboard. Thank You for sharing Daniel G. If TB leave UVA, would you still love UVA and put in the dedication you do now tu watch games? Thanks Again for sharing and blessings tu you and your wife.

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I don’t really know what to write here, but I’ll take a stab at it just for fun.

I’m still a freshman in high school here in Charlottesville, so my experiences are much different from all of you guys, but my passion for UVA sports is still huge. I’ve lived here in Charlottesville my whole life, and I have grown to be a diehard wahoos fan. I love just about everything about UVA sports. I am a sports fanatic in general, and I really enjoy this type of stuff, including past players, styles, and everything in between, current players, styles, and everything else, and recently I’ve been into future players and things, too. For a while my goal in life was to become an ESPN analytics guy or even an on screen guy cause I really enjoy that type of stuff. I could go on and on about how much I love Virginia Sports and how much they mean to me, but there’s a basketball game on I want to watch.
Living in Charlottesville has provided me with so many great opportunities and experiences within UVA athletics. I am fortunate enough to be able to go to a good majority of the basketball games, all of the football games, and more. I have been to several camps with players and coaches, which is incredible. One particularly memorable one was during Malcolm Brogdon’ earlier years I went to a very small camp at ACAC with only about 10 or 20 other people, and we just played basketball games for an hour and that was awesome. I vividly remember during warmups before the thing actually started when I was just shooting around I had already drank a good amount of gatorade bottle, and Anthony Gill came over to me and joked about how warmups had already tired me out or something. Another thing I remember is on time Joe Harris came to speak at my school in front of like 30 people when I was in 3rd grade, and I got a front row seat. I remember I got hurt during PE that day (probably something super minor lol) so during the Q&A I asked him if he every got hurt playing basketball, and he said yeah, that’s just part of the game. I also remember that one of my good friend at the time asked him if he had a six-pack; he said no but then said my coach does, and pointed to the assistant coach that came with him. (I think it was Ron Sanchez) lol. Little memories like these are just awesome. I have several more great memories, but if I we to share them all we would be here forever. (tried to think of something funny to say there, but I couldn’t lol
Anyways, I am lucky enough to go to all sorts of events here in Charlottesville, have some great experiences, and meet some amazing people. My passion for UVA sports is huge and it is forever growing. Go hoos now and forever!

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Hey @TUGARD. Thats a very good question, and I had to think about it for 5 minutes. Its hard to say for sure, but I think it would depend on the circumstances of his departure. If he were to retire after a long 30 year career, it would be much easier to continue on as a passionate fan and not missing a game. If he were to leave early because lets say UVA administration was stepping on his toes and restricting his coaching style in some odd way, it would be much more difficult for me to be as devoted as I am now. Its would be a similar situation as to this last season with the Redskins. I actually was hoping they would lose every game because the owner of that organization is so bad and he has not given the coaches of that organization any control over the team. I even genuinely wanted Dallas to beat us so the owner would get the message. We were bad, attendance at the games was dwindling, everything was going wrong. Maybe he got the message because we now have a new coach and evidentially Dan Snyder the owner is giving more control to the new coach. We will See.
Back on topic Im a UVA fan initially based on geography and being loyal to the local team and always will be. But my love for my local team at UVA definitely goes much deeper then just being geography based. I know I have never been this devoted to any other team in my life because of the man Tony Bennett is. He has the best character and integrity of any coach in the game. So with out him, I dont think I would wake up at 2am to watch every game, But I dont think I would completely abandon my team either. The good news is I think Tony Bennett may be the youngest of the coaches that lead highly successful basketball programs in the NCAA…So Im forecasting sunny days for the next 20+ years!

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Thanks for sharing! Man Im honestly a bit jealous. Ive been to a few football games and that is it. You’ve already had so many real life experiences.

And evidentially your into graphic design? You are a good example of how my brain fills in the blanks. After seeing some of you work online, I subconsciously assumed that you were probably a university graduate with some marketing or graphic design degree, but actually your a freshman in high school. Seems like you are well ahead in your game! Keep up the good work @Benrekosh!

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Alright so first off thanks to @Daniel_G for kicking this off and thanks to everyone who has contributed so far. It’s cool to get some insight to some of the people in the community here. I definitely feel like this is a close knit group which is really cool.

I moved to Charlottesville in 88 while my mom was finishing her PhD at UVa. I lived there until I was a freshmen in high school and we moved to Nelson County. While I lived in Charlottesville my mom became an Ast Dean in the School of Arts and Sciences at UVa. As a result I spent countless hours in Garrett Hall hanging out while she worked. I spent a lot of that time stalking athletes and trying to get autographs. When I was in 5th and part of 6th grade I actually walked from STAB middle school back on ground to her office everyday.

My mom worked closely with the athletic department as a dean and a perk was we got a lot tickets to games. My first UVa game was in 1990 against Navy. We had dinner at President Casteen’s house then bused over to Scott. The Hoos dominated and I was hooked. The first basketball game I went to was during the 91-92 season against NC State we had floor seats and I could barely see over people standing but I remember Bryant Stith going to work. Sorry I dont remember seeing you @DFresh11 but I know you were putting in work too. Growing up in Charlottesville I went to countless games whenever I could score tickets I was in attendance.I was there the night the Hoos knocked off FSU for the first time (still one of my all time favorite memories).

I was also a good high school athlete while at NCHS football was my number one sport and I got some serious looks from around the country, but I was a 3 sport athlete playing basketball and throwing shotput and disc on the track team. I went to all the football camps and basketball camps during the late 90’s. By my junior year I was going down to the Dell and to Slaughter on a regular basis to test my skills against bigger stronger athletes I thought I was the ish. During my junior year playing football I blew up my ankle pretty badly and many speculated it required a major surgery that would have kept me out all that year and possibly my senior year. I elected not to have it and to play through after missing about a month of football season. As a result a lot of the top offers from colleges began to dry up.

Despite that, I lived up the recruiting cycle as best I could as a half star recruit. I did take an official visit to UofM and was very seriously considering attending there. During that time trips to Scott became a regular thing. A former teammate was on the roster so they had me in pretty regular contact with him and others.

During the same time George Welsh left UVa and Al Groh came in. He didn’t have the same relationship with our high school coach as Welsh did, the two had known each other for 20 yers. He did offer me preferred walk-on status but I was in the same class as Elton Brown and D’Brickeshaw and I didn’t think I was at that level. Plus I was an egocentric 17 year old and in my mind I deserved the world and anything less was a slap in the face. So I spurned football all together and chose to attend Xavier University in Cincinnati undefeated in football since 1972.

While at X I picked up rugby and became a very good player eventually traveling overseas to play for several years before returning to the states and continuing to play for a 17 year career. While at X I hung with the basketball team and would train and play with them a ton. David West, Kevin Frye, Roman Sato and co. were around during that time. XU legend Byron Larkin ran a pick-up game 3 days a week and it was the spot to be, especially during the summer. He worked color commentary for XU on the radio and obviously had the ear of the staff. They would bring in the redshirts to play in that game, future prospects would play in it. Bryon would bring in his boys from when he played, players from the women’s team. It was a brutal hour, but made me one heck of a player.

This all happened during the time when X hit their stride and went to an Elite 8. The funny part was during that entire time I never really cared about X, I was suffering watching my Hoos night in and night out as the Pete Gillian era was winding down. The worst game I ever attended was in December of 07 I flew out to Cinci just to watch the Hoos at Cintas Arena and got their doors blown off by XU. I still haven’t forgiven Dave Leito for that one.

After college while playing rugby, I wrote and worked with some early iterations of sports websites and even developed a decent following online. I’ve hosted podcast and radio shows over the years. I’ve always wanted to be involved in sports. I started my career in digital marketing because I wanted to write about sports and wanted people to hear my opinions but didn’t want to go to journalism school. So I taught myself to code and eventually learned the dark arts of online marketing because I wanted eyeballs on my work.

I moved to Atlanta with my wife last March, she grew up in the mid-west but has become a die-hard Virginia fan. She loves CTB as much if not more than I do. She played college basketball herself but honestly never really cared about watch basketball until she started to see CTB and the boys going to work back in 12 and 13. Now we don’t miss a game. When we’re back in Va we try to hit up games, when the team comes down to the ATL we are there. I’ll be there for the season opener against UGa and when they play GT. I have the five pillars on a custom sign hanging on my office wall as well as on a signed poster from my favorite strongman (Strongman and powerlifting is my currently athletic passion).

As we await the birth of our first child this summer, I’m excited to usher in the third generation of Hoos in the Dragon clan, and you can bet your a$$ she is going to be a beast on the court.

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These are amazing!

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Appreciate your kind words @Daniel_G and love your thoughts on CTB and uva basketball in general! Great story from @BDragon too! Go hoos

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Great idea. interesting stuff guys

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Before I post my introduction, I wanted to take the time to respond to yous who have posted already!

^ Now that’s dedication @Daniel_G! I was wondering if you were in a similar time zone as me based on the times you post when I’m awake in the morning here in Ireland. I hope you get a chance to see a game at JPJ soon as well. And if I ever make it over to the Netherlands while I’m still living in Europe, I may have to ask you for some recommendations on what to see/do in the Netherlands that aren’t the typical tourist destinations!

^ A 1980 E-School grad @trips19581?? That’s the same year my dad @ohdeez graduated with a Chem-E degree! I know it’s a large school so you probably didn’t know each other but your post reminded me of some of his memories that he’s shared with me too. Thanks for sharing!

^ I love it! The kinds of experiences you get to have as a local fan are so special and unique @Benrekosh. The way you talk about it reminds me of what it was like to grow up in Wisconsin playing ice hockey, being a diehard fan of the UW Women’s Ice Hockey team — I still remember how amazing it felt to attend camps and meet some of the players I looked up to so much, especially when they played in the Olympics and won the national championship when I was in 7th and 8th grade. I also really appreciate all your contributions to LRA, especially the designs you create!

^ I could have quoted so many things to respond to in your post @BDragon — it sounds like you’ve had such an interesting and exciting life! I love knowing that so many others here like you connect with the Five Pillars as well. All the best to you and your wife as you await the birth of your first child!

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Okay, now to do my own intro post… I graduated from UVA in 2015 and am currently living in Galway Ireland doing a year-long masters programme. I grew up in Stevens Point, Wisconsin playing girls ice hockey so, even though my dad graduated from UVA in 1980, I didn’t follow UVA sports at all until I got to UVA. It’s funny, I remember my dad telling me about how Tony Bennett also grew up in Stevens Point, expecting me to be excited about that too, but I’m kind of embarrassed to say that it didn’t mean a lot to me at the time :see_no_evil: I suppose with the ice hockey season occurring at the same time as the basketball season, I just never had the time to take an interest in basketball and become a fan. Before college, it had been all ice hockey all the time for me.

That all changed on March 1, 2014 when one of my friends who grew up in C’ville invited me to watch the game with her at the UVA Club of Charlottesville watch party at Alumni Hall. It was my third year at UVA which had been a particularly difficult year for me mentally, emotionally, and socially, and I remember I didn’t really feel like going, but I was living right next door to Alumni Hall in the International Residential College so I didn’t really have an excuse to not go. Well, I’m sure you all remember the euphoric feeling from that night — beating a higher ranked Syracuse team to clinch an outright ACC regular season championship for the first time since 1981 — but I’ll never forget the feeling I had watching that game with the people in that room because of they genuinely made me feel so welcomed. I remember looking around and realising that this sense of community was something that I hadn’t experienced in a while and was something I had been missing.

So I guess my passion for UVA sports evolved from me chasing the feeling of connection you get when you’re a part of a community of really good people. From there, I started to find a lot of meaning in reflecting on and developing my own understanding of the Five Pillars. I also spent that whole summer and fall watching WatchESPN replays of basketball games so that I could really understand the game going into the next season. I went to all of the basketball games I could at JPJ during the 2014-2015 season (including a couple games where I was lucky enough to get a seat in the student section just a few rows behind the bench!) and then I’d go home and watch the replay, seeing what else I could notice from a different perspective. I started going to more of the women’s basketball games as well to show support and just to hang out at JPJ a bit more. Having not grown up playing basketball, I’ll probably never have the intuitive sense of the game like I do with ice hockey, but I couldn’t imagine enjoying any sport without being able to see and anticipate some of the intricacies of the different styles of play and what happens on the court (or rink or field or whatever). So even though you don’t see me commenting on these things a lot, I love reading everyone else’s comments and analyses to see what I noticed and what I might have missed. (I’m also just generally a more reserved, private person, so frequent posts aren’t usually my thing.)

I haven’t lived in Charlottesville since graduating but my love for UVA basketball has still had me eagerly tuning in for every game, whether I’m living in Chicago, Minneapolis, Kansas City, or Ireland (and that love has trickled down into other UVA sports as well that I love sharing with my dad now). I find it difficult to explain my love for UVA basketball to people outside of UVA because so much of it grew out of something that is very specific to who Tony Bennett is, who he has brought into the program, and how he has impacted those who are involved with or who follow the program.

It’s a beautiful thing to know that the culture of UVA sports has become such a strong source of connection for so many great people, like we have here in this space that LRA has created. I have a feeling that this sense of community and love for the program will extend well beyond Tony Bennett’s tenure as head coach at UVA in some way.

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Thank you for the kind words and great story! @shaza_od

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I also really like the word/theme you used thought it your story; community and connections. There is definitely a sense of community throughout uva sports and especially here on LRA. I could go on and on about how incredible the uva sports community is and how many connections I’ve made

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I love it! You’re so lucky you get to grow up in that community :smile:

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It is a community we can be proud of, doing things the right way with integrity. Holland and Welsh set the bar high on and off the field, and now we are very lucky to have Bennett and Mendallhall leading the same way.

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