I didn’t cry at my high school graduation, and I doubt I’ll cry when I walk down the hill in May.
But I’ll be completely honest, I’ve cried twice in Allen Fieldhouse.
The first time was on March 5, 2016. I was returning to my courtside seat after making a quick pre-tip trip to the media room to grab another soda. When I went to pull out my chair, there lay a handwritten letter from Holly Rowe to my mother. In red ink, Holly wrote to my mom because both of them were fighting cancer.
As I read the words, “Just want you to keep your spirits high despite this DUMB cancer. All my best as we fight together,” I bawled. There was no hiding my tears.
The second time was February 27, 2017 — Senior Night.
Yes, it was senior night for Frank Mason III, Landen Lucas and Tyler Self, but I wasn’t shedding tears for BIFM or Bonesaw.
I didn’t lose control of my emotions like last year, but I did tear up when I was interviewing Frank Mason Jr. at halftime. As he grew nostalgic of his son’s career, I became wistful of mine.
My love of basketball was affirmed here in Allen Fieldhouse.
I watched my fair share of Kansas basketball games on TV in middle and high school, but being from Nebraska, I’d never made the pilgrimage until I enrolled as a student.
I camped out near the Phog Allen statue for my first Late Night with one of my friends, and his dad brought us Dunkin Donuts. Though he put in more effort, starting to camp out at 2 a.m., we had third or fourth row seats. Even though the game was a glorified scrimmage, in that moment I knew — with my ass hanging off the bleacher — this was where I was meant to be.
I only missed one game that year, and consequently, it was the rare home loss to San Diego State. I didn’t see Kansas lose in the old barn until this season when the Iowa State Cyclones came in and handed the Jayhawks their first home conference loss since 2013.
I’d never seen a crowd so deflated. There was no “Rock Chalk Chant.” The cheerleaders didn’t rush onto the court. Everyone just left. It was eerie.
Thankfully, as a student, there were more good times than bad.
I’ll never forget the triple-overtime showdown between Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield and Perry Ellis or when Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart attempted the flop of the century against Wayne Selden. I won’t forget Kansas pulling off miraculous comebacks against Florida in 2014 and against West Virginia just a few weeks ago. Hearing the entire student section chant Perry Ellis’ name as he cut down the nets in 2016 or “We want Tyler” in the closing minutes of 2017’s TCU game brought chills down my spine.
I haven’t sat — or stood, rather — in the student section since I was a freshman, but that hasn’t detracted from my experience. One of the questions I receive the most is: do you miss it?
Truthfully, not really. I’ve been afforded an experience unparalleled by any other. (Thank you, Dave.) Yes, my college experience has been incredibly different than the average student’s, but I wouldn’t give that up for anything. Even if that means getting elbowed by Greg Gurley from time to time.
60 games. I’ve watched 60 games in this building. Some days it feels like more, while other days, it feels like less. I’ll remember some of those games more than others, but it’s this last one I’ll treasure unlike the rest.
Thank you, Allen Fieldhouse. I’ve learned more about myself in this place than I have any other.
Thank you, Allen Fieldhouse. I’m humbled to say that you were once my office.
Thank you, Allen Fieldhouse. It’s been an eventful four years.
Here’s hoping I’m fortunate enough to make the pilgrimage back some day. Until next time.
— Edited by Ashley Hocking