Game #9-032: Northwestern State at Campbell Fighting CamelsNovember 12, 2012 7:00 pm
It was around 11:30 p.m. when I pulled into the parking lot of a local bar in North Myrtle Beach. I had made the two- and-a-half hour drive home from a game and had seen my friend Rob's car in the parking lot, so I figured I'd stop in to say hi. I was not even in the door and I could hear his distinguishable laugh from inside the establishment. I knew I was in store for a "treat" when I walked in.
"Hhhhheeeyyy, what's going on man?!?!" as he sat at his bar stool with his customary bottle of Michelob Light and shot of Black Velvet in front of him. Telling by his condition, those weren't his first of the evening. I went on to explain that I went to Campbell basketball game in Buies Creek, North Carolina.
"Whhaaa...What? Where is that even? You did that all today? Was it even a good game?" Rob asked with a flabbergasted tone. I said it was an okay game. Campbell didn't put up too much a fight until the very end and also that the drive wasn't really THAT far away, I'd been to and from Greensboro in a day.
"No... No way...That's way out there, that's crazy. That sucks man, that the game wasn't even that good, and you went all the way out there....that sucks man!" was the response that I got. I had talked to Rob about this before many times last year when I was traveling through the Carolinas, but his shock and awe was almost amusing on this night. He spent most of the entire night telling the rest of local barfly buddies that I was the guy that would go anywhere to watch basketball, obviously in a much more slurred tone.
They say that people are more honest when they are drunk. I do not know if it is a scientific fact or not, but I have seen it happen countless times. Did he genuinely think I was crazy all this time and just decided to let it out tonight?
It is not as if what I do hasn't gotten me inquisitive looks from sober people before either. The previous day after the game I went to in Wilmington, I met up with a co-worker who lives there. We met at a restaurant to grab some food before I was going to drive home. He had another friend there and he was trying to make polite small talk. "So you went to UNCW?" he asked since I was wearing a teal Seahawk t-shirt. I explained I didn't, that I was just a big fan of college basketball.
The puzzled look became ever more so when I said I was said I was going to Buies Creek the following day. "Oh, Campbell? There's like nothing up there? Why are you going up there?" He asked as if I was going to the North Pole.
I tried to answer the best I could, but it is nearly impossible to explain why. It would take several hours to convey the experience of going to what is seemingly inconsequential speck of a game to other people.
I would have to go over why both teams intrigue me starting with the Fighting Camels. I mean the mascot is freaking Camel! What's not to like about them?
I would tell about how I had seen Campbell plenty of times before last year and while they started out promising, the year seemed to fall apart on them. It's a team that is favored to win the Big South North Division this year and they have two exciting players in Darren White and Trey Freeman.
Next there would have to be the explanation of my interest in Northwestern State. For me, there is the obvious answer of "that's the team that Kyle is 2-0 as an assistant coach for
", which of course would receive another puzzled look to anyone who doesn't know about the Mid-Majority.
I could also explain that the type of game would probably be pretty fun to watch. It still was with Demons' head coach Mike McConathy still bringing his up-tempo style of sub five in, sub five out strategy, and how DeQuan Hicks had a big night, receiving a ton of entry passes and easy scores. The Camels for their part ran an up-tempo style, but were off tonight, especially with White only shooting 6-for-21 on the night.
There would have to be a way for me to convey how enjoyable it is to watch a student section cheer on their team or heckle the opposing fans or coaches or watch Gaylord the Camel put smiles on kids faces or flirt with the various groups of coeds.
I could tell them about the late rally that Campbell mustered up in the last few minutes despite being down 21. How the one-third full Gore Arena became louder and louder after each deep three that was being made to the point where it was louder than some NBA arenas I had been in, or the disheartening collective groan when Northwestern State would answer to put the game out of reach.
That doesn't even touch the tip of the iceberg on why I go to these "middle of nowhere" arenas, but I could probably go for hours and still not get through to many people. It's just something you have to have a passion for and truly enjoy and experience.
After I made sure Rob got home safely, I made one more stop to another bar before heading home to see a friend who bartends there. She said it was her birthday this upcoming Sunday and she wanted me and my other friends to meet her out later. I said I'd be in Charleston during the day, but I'd probably be back in time. "What are you doing in Charleston?" she asked.