BFOTBE and proud Cardinal father

Steve Springer, the Biggest Fan of the Big East, ran into one Calvin Bibb, father of former University of Louisville defensive back Don Bibb, while in the Big Apple to get the ceremonial keys to the new Volvo S60 at the Big East championship.  Don lettered for the Cardinals playing under coaches Ron Cooper and John L. Smith.  The proud father was very excited to let Card Game know who his son was and display his son’s Motor City Bowl ring from the 1998 season. The car? Still going through U.S. Customs.

Biggest Fan of the Big East & the trip to the Big East Tourney

 

Volvo’s “Biggest Fan of the Big East” contest culminated with me and my family getting to cash in our prize by venturing to New York City to witness the Big East Tournament finals and semifinals. With wife and kids in tow, we made it in town in time to catch the Cards come from behind and exact revenge on Notre Dame in the semis and then watch a great game which had the Cards falling to UConn in the BET championship.

As part of the grand prize, I participated in the halftime ceremonies and presented a check from Volvo in the amount of $10,000 to the University of Louisville’s scholarship fund. It was one of those giant cardboard checks that one always dreams of getting their hands on. I held up the left side and at the other end of the check was Volvo Cars North America CEO Doug Speck. Mr. Speck ended up being the only male on the planet I’m not related to that was on the receiving end of a big o’ kiss as I planted one on his cheek when they announced that I also won a brand new naughty Volvo S60.  Below is my interview with the Big East Network reporter:

Big East Video On-Demand interview with Steve Springer, “Biggest Fan of the Big East”

It was a great privilege to be able to share the experience with my wife, Casey, and the kids. Not only did we see some great Cardinal/Big East basketball in the most famous basketball venue in the world, along with all the extras like the car, going out on the court, hanging in the tunnel, etc., we took in a few sights and sounds in New York City, as well. We stayed two nights in the beautiful New Yorker Hotel, ate some local cuisine, rode the subway for the first time, and toured Ground Zero and paid our respects at the memorial.

We would have had time for a couple of other places if not for us pulling a silly tourist mistake, getting on the A-train going in the wrong direction and riding something like 200 blocks the wrong way and having to go all the way back and then some. Then getting off at the wrong stop and walking for blocks and blocks to finally get there. Oh well, the Empire State Building and Statue of Liberty will have to wait until next time.

Many thanks to the people of Volvo US and Cake NYC for their hospitality and for putting up with our crew for the weekend. They sure know how to treat people right and made this basketball season extra special for our family.

 Also, we have much appreciation for the too-many-to-name people that helped me throughout the course of the contest. And even if I tried to name everybody, I would inevitably leave someone off because there were probably lots of people that voted, retweeted, etc. that I don’t even know about. You know who you are and your time and efforts are much appreciated. This post is dedicated to all of you.

Louisville fan wins! Thanks to Cardinal Nation!!!

I have been named Volvo’s Biggest Fan of the Big East!!!

  • A trip to New York City for the Big East Tournament Championship Game to be announced at halfcourt at halftime of the tournament championship
  • The University of Louisville will get $10,000 from Volvo.
  • And I will be the recipient of a brand new naughty Volvo S60!!

Thanks again for the support, U of L fans!  I couldn’t have done it without you!!

Now, I’m supposed to be working, so more details to follow later!

Go Cards!  Go Big East! and GO VOLVO!!! THANK YOU!!!

Here’s the announcement e-mail from Volvo:

We’re very pleased to announce that Volvo¹s Biggest Fan of the Big East is Steve Springer.

Volvo feels that Steve has gone above and beyond throughout the season. His challenge posts showed his unique perspective in an engaging way, and always gained a lot of reader conversation in the comments section of UofLCardGame. He’s gained support from other Cards blogs along the way, and has made a number of Volvo videos (and appearances on WLKY, his local CBS affiliate) to hype the competition. He also got the word about the campaign out by putting pictures and videos up on Facebook and he used the #volvos60 hashtag on his Twitter account the greatest number of times of any of the fans. Not to mention, he’s been leading the fan poll for most of the season!

We’d like to emphasize that this was a very hard decision to make. The entire competition was fierce; the Final Four especially displayed all of the characteristics of a true Big East fan. Congratulations to Steve for winning the competition, and to everyone for a great season!

‘Biggest Fan of the Big East’ Experience

A once in a lifetime experience only comes along, well, not very often.  Such was the situation I found myself in over the past five months.  Thanks to the generosity and philanthropy of Volvo US, I was one of 16 people that got to participate in The Biggest Fan of the Big East contest.  The newly redesigned Naughty S60 was the theme of the crusade and provided me one of the most wonderful sports-related memories, as well as a lifetime memory that transcends basketball, sports, and material things.


Everything began with an e-mail in September with an offer to participate in the program.  They were contacting sports bloggers from the various Big East schools looking for participants.  All they needed was some personal info about my social networking venues, Facebook, twitter, Youtube, etc.  After a little skepticism on my part, I followed through on that request. Next was an offer from them to fly me round trip to the Mecca of college basketball, New York City, to attend Big East Media Day, the preliminary festivity to kick off the men’s basketball season.  Thrown in was an accommodation at the beautiful New Yorker Hotel, practically right across the street from Madison Square Garden.  A day observing the coaches, players, and media in MSG topped the day off.  I got to take my first trip to The Big Apple and see some sights, including the Empire State Building and Times Square.  The city was electric because the ALCS was in town.


The next part of the experience was entitled “My Alma Mater Weekend.”  Each digital influencer received two tickets to one regular season game at their respective schools.  We’re not talking about going to watch the Cards play the Southern New Mexico Sisters of the Poor, though.  They hooked me up with a trip to see arguably the biggest rivalry in college basketball, the Cards versus the Cats.


But, wait.  There’s more.

Volvo put my wife and me up in The Brown Hotel – the most extravagant, historic, luxurious hotel in Louisville and chipped in some spending money to boot.  We wined and dined at Ruth Chris Steakhouse on their dime and treated ourselves to the best steak around.  We toured the city and I got to see people and places dear to me the night before the game.

Still more.

As I mentioned earlier, the contest was premised around their redesigned S60.  We dropped by Volvo of Louisville and picked up a brand new, sleek, all-wheel-drive,  300 horsepower chariot for the weekend.  It is absolutely the finest automobile I have ever had the privilege to drive.  And we toured my city in style.

There have been all sorts of goodies arriving in the mailbox and on the front porch throughout the season so far, as well.  Shirts, hats, pins, even a super-deluxe road safety kit assembled by the folks at Volvo, which is appropriate because they are known worldwide for their exemplary record on safety when it comes to automobiles.


I’ve gotten to write about some interesting topics over the course of the season and have had an engaging experience keeping up with the other bloggers and our competition.  The twitter feeds and other blogs have been a blast to keep up with and really have immersed me even more deeply in the college basketball experience, which I never would have thought was possible.  My wife has even become a bigger basketball fan.  She would follow the Cards with me, but now she tries to keep up with the rest of the conference and the unfolding during the season.  Wonderful sports-related memories all season long.

Trips, prizes, spending monies.  Still not enough for you?

Just when you think I’m wrapping up, there’s still more generosity up their sleeve.  Volvo will be donating $10,000 to the school of the winning blogger.  That’s good for a scholarship for some deserving soul or two out there somewhere.  The top blogger gets a trip to the Big East Tournament in March, as well.  And to top everything off, the winning digital influencer will be the recipient of a brand new Naughty S60.  Pretty sweet, eh?

If you’re still with me and not rushing out to your local Volvo dealer to see how to be a contestant in the future, you still haven’t heard the most personal and touching part of the story.

Last April, my family of six was struck with a tragedy almost overnight that has been our primary focus for almost the last year.  My daughter, Mackenzie, was diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis, a debilitating, crippling spinal cord infection that left her paralyzed from the chest down.  She went from a bouncy, bubbly, very independent, energetic 8-year-old little girl to a disheartened, frustrated dependent in a wheelchair.  She has been our focus for the last ten months.  My wife has had to provide round-the-clock care for her since they got home from rehab in May, mixed in with a couple of other trips to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital because of relapses.  With my wife as the primary caretaker for her, I have relegated myself to supporting her/them as best I can.  I work all day and my wife travels back and forth to Mackenzie’s school almost hourly for necessary care during the school day.  All of this has put a strain on our finances because my wife has had to postpone her final semester of college and is not able to start her passion, teaching English, as of yet.  I hadn’t been able to treat myself since Mackenzie got sick and my wife strong-armed me into jumping into this contest and insisted that I got to New York in October.  I almost didn’t go, due to feeling guilty for being so far away.

What touched me the most during this experience were not the bright lights of New York City (although still very impressive), the round trip flights, Madison Square Garden, big rivalry games, the luxury sports car, the extravagant accommodations, or even the little plastic gift cards used for per diems. The consideration for my family volunteered by the good folks at Volvo has been the Godsend.  When they offered to send a driver to pick us up for the UL-UK game, I had to explain that we would probably be more comfortable driving up in my own van, due to all the logistics that are involved in traveling with a special needs child and a one year old.  Volvo countered that with an offer for an extra room at the hotel (remember, the nicest hotel in the city-not cheap) so that we could leave the kids in the hands of trusted family members while we experienced my Alma Mater Weekend in the Naughty S60 (it’s got great trunk space, just not enough for our entourage :)).  We could fully enjoy the lavish weekend without having to worry the whole time about the kids.  My daughter loved staying in the hotel, and it was great to see her smiling and enjoying the taste of luxury and seeing loved ones dear to her that she hadn’t seen in a while.

This whole contest has gotten to be a sort of escape for me, and even my family, at times.  That has been the best and most memorable to me.  If I win the car or not, a lifetime of memories, enjoyments, and smiles have been realized throughout the whole experience and because of the generosity of Volvo, I never look at another Volvo again and not get all warm and fuzzy inside.  “Thank you” is nowhere near sufficient.

Cardinal Caravan checklist

Among the most exciting aspects of cheering for one’s team are the inevitable road trips that diehard fans take at least once a year to support their heroes.  The tunes are already programmed, so the next item on the agenda is prepping the vehicle itself.

First and foremost, the biggest fans don’t need an excuse such as a road trip to keep their vehicle forever showing their team colors.  Personally, I will probably never buy a vehicle that does not fall under the umbrella of the University of Louisville’s team colors:  red, black, or white. And as long as we’re being choosy, make that a Naughty Volvo S60.

If that doesn’t happen, there is still a round-the-clock decoration that can be arranged, the team license plate.  Not the ten or twenty dollar variety that fits on the front.  I’m talking the official state license plate that registers you as an official fan/alumni of your school with the DMV of your state.  That way your car is always decorated through the good times and the bad.  No taking it off after an embarrassing defeat.  Have to stay on that bandwagon!   Now, on to more temporary measures.

The team car flag is the official designation to let the world and fellow motorists know that you are on your way to a big game to support your team.  I love traveling the interstates during football or basketball season and seeing the various team flags ripping through the winds at high speeds and trying to figure out who or where they are going to cheer:   “Oh look!  It’s a West Virginia flag driving north out of Atlanta!  They must be coming from the butt-whooping the Eers just laid on Georgia in the Sugar Bowl! (HONK HONK)  Go Eers!  Go Big East!”  My car flag is so tattered from following the Cards, just can’t seem to throw it out – sentimental like that.  Too many miles, too many car windows, to just abandon to the heap.

Two flags at most, both on the rear windows.  Three or more is too much and if you put them on the front windows you’re liable to lose one by accidentally cracking a window for fresh air on those long trips, not Louisville to Cincy, say Louisville to the Big Apple.   Have you seen the All-State commercial?

I’ve never been a big fan of painting the windows;  it just seems too senior-prom for me.  Subtle, yet classy is the goal.  A few other miscellaneous pieces of flair, such as a front license plate, back window sticker with the mascot head or team letter, or maybe even the noble “UNIVERSITY OF…” sticker does the trick.

Secondly, another very important part of the trip is just getting there.  If your ride can’t get you there, what good are the decorations?  Keep the oil changed, use good gas (cheapest isn’t always the way to go), keep the tires properly inflated (and use Armor All Tire Shine to keep that shiny, wet look), and only use genuine factory parts;   you don’t go to AutoZone to for new discs or pads on a naughty S60!

Volvo of Louisville is the only option for properly maintaining your ride correctly.Things like this will keep you rolling down the highway to cheer on your team and have you looking good all the way to the win column!