I grew up in a small town … a very small town, that houses a small school — Harrisonburg, Virginia, home to James Madison University.
In fact, I pretty much grew up on their campus. Literally, the campus was a mere few blocks from my house. My dad use to take me to every men’s AND women’s home basketball games. I affectionally refered to the Duke Dog as one of my friends and hailed their former coach Lefty Driesell as my hero. I even made him a cake for Father’s Day one year … no, he’s not my dad, but my own dad was certaintly proud of me for it.
But when it came time to go to college, I couldn’t go to JMU because that would require me to stay in Harrisonburg … so I went to another small town with a college in it about 2 and a half hours south, Virginia Tech.
I’ll never forget my very first football game in Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, which also happened to coincide with Michael Vick’s first time on the field there. We played JMU and beat them 47 – 0 as Vick did flips into the end zone as he was running the ball, and running up the score. And then fast forward to 2010 — another moment I’ll never forget. I was in Richmond with the NASCARnival working on the show I hosted, 3 Wide Life. After I did my interviews on pit road I rushed to a motorcoach to catch the end of the game to (as I thought) see how badly my alma mater (ranked 13 at the time) was embarrassing my hometown team. And much to my (and the rest of the country’s) surprise, JMU shocked Tech with a 21-16 win.
My pride was hurt for about five minutes, but then I found myself getting really excited despite the humbling season-ending loss for my team … the win was good for my hometown’s economy! Since James Madison starting excelling in sports, my town has blown up. We even got a Super Walmart now! Every time I go home to visit my parents there’s a new big business or building occupying the farm fields I use to romp through as a child. And the downtown area in which my parent’s still lives all of a sudden has a row of cool bars to go to … oh, but the poultry plant is still there too though!
Cason-Point: I am, and will always be a Duke. And I haven’t been more excited about the NCAA tournament … well, ever. The last time the Dukes went dancing I was still living in Harrisonburg, attending middle school. And now, my fairytale story is coming true … CINDERELLA IS GOING DANCING!
However, as excited as I was about James Madison beating LIU Brooklyn last night, I kinda just feel sorry for them now that they have to play Indiana. How is that even fair? So tomorrow, Jim and I will not be friends. I may love my Dukes, but I’m not dumb enough to pick them to win on my bracket.
Check out this video courtesy of SB Nation: “Chasing Cinderella, James Madison University” - it might make a James Madison fan out of you!
You all know what I’ll be doing at 4:10 p.m. Friday afternoon
Let’s go dancing boys,