This post is sponsored by EA Sports NCAA Football 2011.
Everyone's story is different. Some come out of the womb wearing the colors of the school they'll root for the rest of their lives. Some grow up rooting for one team and end up going to their rival school bleeding those colors. Still others find themselves cheering in other ways. For me, it's as unique a story as any, but is one that I wouldn't trade for anything looking back.
Find my story after the jump, and feel free to share your story in the comments.I wasn't always a Wake Forest fan. I know Jake was. I know both Riley and Bart were. But I came late to the party. I grew up with two teams--Valpo (yes, that Valpo), and Xavier. I lived in Cincinnati and you were really a fan of one of five teams down there: Huggy Bear's Cincy Bearcats, Kentucky, Louisville, Ohio State...or Xavier. Family friends worked there and I was drawn to the school. And a funny thing happened; when Skip Prosser was there, they really were a fun team to watch. Skip was always active in the community and it didn't seem like you could go to a function in Cincinnati without him being there. And boy was he quotable.
Now we fast forward a few years. I'm up in Cleveland, I still hate Ohio State (and most other teams to be quite honest), but I was always an ACC fan. It was just the coaching, the players, the style of play, the history. And as it came down to pick a school, it was Xavier and Valpo, but then I took my trips.
When I made my way into ACC country and found myself in Winston-Salem (with Skip at the helm), I fell in love. With the campus, with the school and, of course, with the Demon Deacons. I wasn't as well-versed in the history, but damned if I hadn't read Muggsy Bogues's autobiography at least 3 or 4 times by then...oh and did I mention Chris Paul was there?
So on my official visit, after the tour was all said and done, my dad and I met Ron Wellman, Wake's athletic director. My dad talked with him about small school success on the big stage and Wellman gave us tickets to the game that night. The Joel was rocking. And in my head, that was the school I wanted to go to.
As a basketball fan first, there was no beating the ACC. And that's still the case despite what anyone will tell you otherwise. And the second I set foot on campus, it was over. I was locked in. The same way I was locked in with the Cubs from birth (that was an instance where I was given Cubbie blue as soon as I could wear shirts) and the same way I identified with Cleveland sports when I made Northeast Ohio my home.
My passion for Wake has only grown since. I played catchup on the history, with the help of every book I could find, a wonderful community of Wake fans, talking with spectacular ACC writers when I wrote for The Old Gold and Black, as well as just being there and making experiences and memories of my own. And although there are ups and downs, rainy days and sun, I'll always love Mother So Dear.