I have a pretty straightforward resolution for 2011 – become a die-hard UC Davis Aggies fan.
It might come as a shock to some that I am not already a die-hard fan. It’s my job to write about all things UC Davis sports. One would think that just by surrounding myself with Aggie athletics, I would become a die-hard.
But things don’t work that way.
I have a theory that in order for me to go from a fair-weather-win-that’s-fun-lose-I-could-not-care-less fan to a die-hard-win-is-a-good-day-lose-is-a-terrible-day fan, there needs to be a team or a season that truly captivates me.
There is a squad on the UC Davis campus that has the potential to do this.
The women’s basketball team is off to one of its best starts in school history. The young season already includes a 40-point shellacking of Pac-10 Washington State and a comeback victory over SEC member South Carolina. UC Davis extended its home winning streak to 13 games this season.
Two of the Aggies’ three losses have come against nationally recognized squads – one to No. 8 UCLA and another to Kansas State, a team that has flirted with top 25 rankings.
The team is rich in storylines to capture the hearts of all UC Davis fans. Coach Sandy Simpson, arguably the Aggies’ most well-liked leader, announced he will retire at the end of the year. The team, after coming oh-so close to qualifying for its first NCAA Championship ever, is poised to make another run at the tourney for their retiring coach.
The team is currently ranked number eight in the College Insider women’s mid-major poll – the highest ever for a UC Davis basketball team.
The storylines (and columns) nearly write themselves.
This theory on becoming a die-hard isn’t built on fluff – I have personal experience in the field.
In my junior year at California High School, I had similar feelings to Cal High sports as I do now to UC Davis sports – fair weather. The football team that year went 11-2 and finished second in its conference. And from that point on, I lived and died all things Grizzly (the mascot) sports.
This theory isn’t just at the prep and collegiate level, it goes all the way to the top.
As many of you know, I am a die-hard Giants fan, but I wasn’t always one. I can trace my fan origin to the 2000 campaign where the Giants won the National League West.
This theory doesn’t even stop on the diamond. I wasn’t even a fair weather Golden State Warriors fan up to the 2007 season. But that miraculous 2007 team shocked the world and definitely caught my attention.
On the UC Davis hard-court, the women’s basketball team has already captured my concentration.
Despite an early season Big West Conference hiccup, this Aggie team has the experience and depth to run house in the league. Led by all-everything Paige Mintun, UC Davis has already showed its muscle over some strong competition.
The ultimate goal for this team is to qualify for the NCAA Championships. I see this as a very reachable accomplishment. Depending on how the Aggies do down the stretch in the Big West, it isn’t totally out of the question for them to earn a low teens seed for the Tournament.
Another thing this team has going for it is its fan base. The Aggie Pack has already noticed how special this team really is. I don’t think it will take much longer for the rest of the student body to catch wind of this team either.
Maybe some of the Aggie community can make a similar New Year’s resolution as me. This women’s basketball squad will make it pretty damn easy to accomplish this resolution. With the squad as good as they are, maybe this is the year we’ll all actually go to the gym.
JASON ALPERT has another New Year’s resolution: go to as many UC Davis home games as he can this year. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org to tell him what games you’ll be going to. Hopefully he’ll see you all there.