March 25, 2009 10:08 am ET by Kyle Whelliston
The euphoria, the overwhelming sense of relief, that had initially accompanied my return to Petersburg faded, and an unexpected melancholy took its place. The people I chatted with in Kito's didn't seem to doubt that I'd been to the top of the Thumb; they just didn't much care.This was not a popular section of the book with most readers, and I've heard it described as grandstanding, unnecessary filler, narcissistic even. Hollywood had little use for Krakauer's tale -- the film version edited him out altogether, and opted to make Chris' sister the primary narrator instead. But for me, this threw the entire book into a five-dimensional perspective, give the work ballast and true weight. Without the inclusion of the two chapters on the Stikine Ice Cap, Into The Wild is a third-hand, third-rate version of Catcher -- a point proven, perhaps, by the massive story exaggerations contained in the movie script.
...Less than a month after sitting on the summit of the Thumb, I was back in Boulder, nailing up siding on the Spruce Street Townhouses, the same condos I'd been framing when I left for Alaska. I got a raise, to four bucks an hour, and at the end of the summer moved out of the job-site trailer to a cheap studio apartment west of the downtown mall.
It is easy, when you are young, to believe that what you desire is no less than what you deserve, to assume that if you want something badly enough, it is your God-given right to have it. When I decided to go to Alaska that April, like Chris McCandless, I was a raw youth who mistook passion for insight and acted according to a obscure, gap-ridden logic. I thought climbing the Devils Thumb would fix all that was wrong with my life. In the end, it changed almost nothing. But I came to appreciate that mountains make poor receptacles for dreams.
There are 343 universities and colleges that compete for the NCAA Division I men's basketball championship every year, but nearly two-thirds of those schools languish in the shadows of the well-moneyed and constantly televised power conferences. For the past five years, I've travelled from coast to coast covering "mid-major" conferences like the Big South, Big Sky and Big West, leagues that are only as "big time" as their exceedingly hopeful titles.That's what this book should have been, and what this site should be: a 100 Games Project with insider access. I'm going to take this chance to do it right. If I stopped now, I'd always regret quitting without achieving that perfect season.
I plan to chronicle my 2009-10 season on the road, as I travel to and between over 100 Division I games. Along the way, we'll stop by hallowed halls like Butler's Hinkle Fieldhouse and Penn's Palestra. We'll meet head coaches on the rise, as well as on career declines and rebounds. We'll visit with student section superfans and explore their odd rituals, and reveal heated local rivalries often overlooked by the national media. Invariably, a previously unknown school will leap into the limelight as a surprise nationally-ranked instant powerhouse. We'll discover players who go from unknowns to legends in a single episode of March Madness. And as winter turns to spring, small towns across America will become transformed, as tiny local colleges achieve berths in America's ultimate college sports showcase, the NCAA Tournament.
The real texture to this story of mid-major basketball, however, is provided by its inherent struggle. There will also be trips to run-down, dimly-lit 1,000-seat gymnasiums with empty seats, failed recruiting trips. There will be November "guarantee games," in which power-conference teams exchange five-figure checks for certain beatings, and long 700-mile team bus rides through the night. Players who excel in smaller leagues often have their weaknesses cruelly exposed against higher competition. All of these programs are defined by their relative lack of finances, and struggle to achieve or maintain excellence at the highest level. It's a world where big success becomes bittersweet --larger programs routinely lure away winning coaches with multi-million dollar contracts, reducing the role of mid-major schools to simple stepping stones.
The chronicle will be narrated in an even-handed, philosophical style that's been honed and perfected over three years as a national college basketball reporter. Travelogue-style elements will be woven into the story as I criss-cross the country for five months, driving tens of thousands of miles in pursuit of small college basketball's pulse. In book form, the 2009-10 mid-major college basketball season promises to be a patchwork of hope, faith, expectation, disappointment, pride and heartbreak -- it may end for each team with inevitable elimination, but it's always an interesting journey.
I send you some money because I actually felt bad for you and your situation.That I couldn't personally thank everyone who donated and wrote in was regrettable. So, too, was the play of this gentleman's favorite team at the end of the season -- its destiny was to lose in the biggest seed-upset in that conference's tourney history. But far more regrettable was the open nature of my request for funds, though at the time and under the circumstances this was the only course of action. The ESPN situation forced my hand.
You slag [school redacted], you don't return an email nor say thanks for a donation.
I think you suck and I want my money back.
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