Dayton, the city and the University, has waited 30 years to experience this moment in March Madness. The passion, the history, the last second shots, the upsets, the bracket, the pride, the pep-bands, the emotions, and the one shining moments – we’re a part of it all. And we’re the ones with the glass slipper.
The media’s attention to a Cinderella team is amusing, as it focuses on how the team’s streak will impact future enrollment or donations. I agree the wins benefit the institution, but something greater is happening that deserves more discussion: the mix of pride and excitement throughout the city, student body, and alumni that is producing some of the happiest moments of our lifetimes. And I can’t help but notice MARV in the Madness.
This year’s team fully represents the best of what the University of Dayton stands for: learning, leading, and serving. There is no superstar on this team. Selfless is the first word that comes to mind when you watch this team play. They are united in a mission greater than themselves and you can visibly see this in their play on the court.
Just like anything worth having, this has not come easy. Their story is so inspiring because of its grit, persistence, and resilience – and these players have overcome and performed like true champions. Going 1-5 to start the A-10 had most of the Flyer Faithful, including myself, pondering another season of mediocrity. This team didn’t, this tweet from Devin Oliver says it all:
The picture of what went down on Saturday at the University of Dayton is worth more than a million words. The thrill of being united together on campus was captured by UD junior, Natalie Kaufman:
“There were chants, strangers holding hands saying prayers, and literal tears in people’s eyes as Dayton came closer to the win. As the seconds on the clock grew smaller, we all grew more silent. 4…3…2…1…buzzer goes off and UD students go wild.
I have never in my life experienced such a rush of excitement than I did when UD won the game and made it to the sweet 16. Minutes after the win, students gathered in unison in the streets of the student neighborhood and celebrated as the community that UD is. I am currently living through my university making history, and I have never felt more proud of where I go to school and to call myself a Dayton Flyer.”
Flyers across the country experienced some of their most heightened and enlivened moments when the buzzer sounded on Thursday and on Saturday. Whether at home with family and friends, on campus in Dayton, or in the stands in Buffalo, time stood still for a few hours, maybe a few days, as we soaked up the positive emotion of our university’s special moment.
Carson Scheidler, a junior at UD put the excitement into perspective:
“Within 30 seconds of the finale, our shoes were on and we joined the stampede of students heading toward the center of the student housing (“The Ghetto”) to Kiefaber Street. It was as if suddenly time itself had frozen and the only thing that mattered was coming together as one student body to celebrate the achievements of our university. A brief two minutes went by with the police trying to keep us off the streets, but the overwhelming feeling of pure happiness overtook us, and the streets soon were completely filled with everyone jumping up and down, performing the popular Seven Nation Army chant.”
MARV is another word for happiness. Happiness, especially on a Cinderella run, is what I believe is the greatest gift the NCAA Tournament evokes in the purest of forms. I’ve always wondered what it was like for George Mason, VCU, Butler, and the list goes on.
University of Dayton, enjoy this MARV moment; it’s shining and has been a long time coming!