Getting Personal: Pop Pulls Out Another One

The Observer steps aside briefly to allow the favorite son to pass along a few flashbacks of growing up in the family of a couple of University of Louisville diehards.

By Steve Springer

After sitting through one of the more hand-wringing encounters that I have witnessed as a University of Louisville fan, I knew that another of my great sports fantasies had come true. After a thrilling victory over No. 13 Notre Dame, I realized that the next UofL game I would attend would be against the No. 1 team in the land, the Pitt Panthers on the upcoming Saturday.

The chance to beat No. 1 does not come along very often. Combine this rare opportunity with the fact that one does not always get to attend such a spectacle with the engineer of one’s love. The win over top-ranked Pittsburgh will rank right up there with the best of many big moments as a Card fan. The Observer instilled a deep passion for Cardinal Nation in my soul and fueled it with ticket after ticket to big games.

Steve, Koby, Rick Pitino and the Observer
Steve, Koby, Rick Pitino and the Observer

I have attended Cardinal basketball and football games since before I could walk. The memories run together in a collage of college athletics. The clearest early memories that stand out are sitting so high in the Superdome to watch the Cards battle Patrick Ewing in the 1982 Final Four. The setting was so huge to my 6-year-old eyes that I preferred to watch the action on the big screen scoreboard instead of the tiny little players running around so far below. My first and only experience with the Big Easy and my beginning infatuation with shrimp and seafood tagged along for good measure.

Visions of hugging red-clad people I had never met when I was nine in Reunion Arena shortly after Jeff Hall intercepted a Duke pass at the end of the 1986 National Championship in Dallas stand out, as well.

A few days before my parents had upgraded their hero-status in my eyes as I secretly intercepted a phone call from the Observer’s wife and my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Osterman. Mom was campaigning for permission to allow me to accompany them to Dallas for championship weekend and I would have to miss a couple of days of school. Mrs. Osterman obliged; I guess the real life experience I was to receive would be worth way more than multiplication tables and spelling words.

Continued Continue reading “Getting Personal: Pop Pulls Out Another One”

Fan of the Week

Steve Springer
Steve Springer

He was a University of Louisville fan before he was born.

As a two-year-old, he was lifted high in the air by his dad after U of L scored a touchdown in his first U of L football game ever, at the old Fairgrounds Stadium, the dangling binoculars striking his old man squarely in the nose.

The first U of L basketball game he remembers attending was an 72-69 win over Duke in the NCAA Championship at Dallas in 1986. No wonder he has such high expectations for the Cards.

His first dunk came from a strong assist from Darrell Griffith at Male where his mom, Barbara, was teaching summer school.

He hyperventilated when Everick Sullivan hit a three-point shot at the last second to give the Cards a win over Florida State.

He remembers the basket brawl against South Carolina, U of L winning the game in overtime after trailing by 14 points with just over a minute to go.

He read Denny Crum’s mind, calling the play before Brian Kiser hit the winning shot over UCLA at Pauley Pavilion.

He traded U of L baseball caps with Howard Schnellenberger, the coach grabbing his own cap and sticking it on his admirer’s head at a weekly coach’s show.

He endured the frigid rain at U of L’s first Liberty Bowl win, with Jeff Brohm calling the signals against Michigan State.

He enrolled in college, but his head wasn’t in his studies. He became a dad, another U of L fan was born. He postponed his education.

Some time between the Michigan State win and a later frigid loss to Colorado State, in the the same Liberty Bowl, he matured and became a man.

He re-enrolled in college again eight years later, this time fully committed to the process. Made straight A’s his first semester. Stayed on the Dean’s List much of his four years. He graduated cum laude this weekend.

He is Stephen Springer, son of Charlie Springer, and Steve is this week’s U of L Fan of the Week.

Reasons To Back Memphis

This observer picks Memphis in the NCAA championship. Not because he likes Memphis, nothing could be further from the mark. Memphis is the choice because it is the non-traditional power overcoming all the biases against non-state universities and schools that are not considered by the herd as traditional powers.

Memphis is not at all likable, with players like Joey Dorsey who use intimidation more than finesse to get their way. The sight of Dorsey towering over and glaring at a Tennessee free throw shooter is one I won’t soon forget. Their coach, John Calipari, is a whiner personified, a man who recruits controversial players, the kind of person you like to see get canned and have his team placed on probation.

The pick for Memphis is for all the schools that have to work twice as hard to get recognition, that don’t get first choice at state monies to beautify their campuses, that have to fight the rural legislators and the big state university like dogs for recognition, that have to convert “state” fans to “hometown” fans or have to work or park next to state fans every day in their own communities.

Go get ’em, Memphis. Beat the stereotypes.

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