HORIZONS- Return ‘home’ was a mixed bag

This past Saturday was a day I had been looking forward to for some time. It was also a day I wasn’t looking forward to.

Saturday marked the day I got to come to Hillsboro with my basketball team from Southwestern for the evening’s games against Tabor.

From the day I decided to attend Southwestern and work with the women’s basketball team, I knew the concept of traveling to my hometown for a road game would be weird. I was excited because I got to come home, but I was also nervous because for the first time I would be on “the other side” of Tabor Gym.

The experience was really no different than I expected. Tabor’s hospitality is among the best in the conference, but having grown up in Hillsboro, I was well aware of that.

The only undesirable part of the experience was the final score of our women’s game, but that’s nothing I can control. I will say, though, that Tabor fans need to know how lucky they are to cheer for the “Lady” Jays. Coach Rusty Allen’s group will make some national noise down the stretch.

While I’m on the topic of KCAC basketball, I’d like to give out a few awards. I don’t have a fancy name for them, but I think they need to be mentioned. I’ve yet to visit Friends, Saint Mary and Bethel, but at this point, I’d like to offer the following awards.

For the “Best Basketball Atmosphere” award, the winner has got to be Tabor. No other school I’ve seen yet has such a great combination of pep band, PA announcer, and student section as the Bluejays. Lots of schools can brag about having one or two of the aforementioned qualities, but none has the combination Tabor has.

The winner of my “Best Gym” award, though it may sound biased, is Southwestern.

I still remember the first day I walked into Stewart Fieldhouse. I stood in the doorway for a second just to take it all in. The first thing I wanted to do was find out what kind of historical value the place had. It only seats about 1,000 people, but in my opinion, it’s far better than any of the other gyms in the conference.

Most of the gyms I’ve seen feel too much like high school gyms. Kansas Wesleyan needs to demolish their place and Bethany… well… Bethany’s gym is just plain weird. Ottawa’s Wilson Fieldhouse would be my runner-up in this category.

The ever-popular “Toughest Place to Play” award this year goes to Sterling College. The Gleason Center is dark, the students are loud and crazy, and there’s something I can’t put my finger on that makes Sterling such a tough place to play. Not to mention the fact that Sterling’s basketball teams tend to be pretty solid each season. Bethany would come in as a close runner-up in this category.

To counter all of my positive awards, I’ve got to make one negative award. My award this season for “Worst Basketball Atmosphere” goes to Kansas Wesleyan and the Muir Gymnasium. The yellow lights, an awful sound system, and the fact the gym is no more than a tin shed with a locker room complex tacked on to it-not to mention a less than rowdy student and fan base-makes KWU an easy choice for this award.

Too many people fail to realize what kind of basketball the KCAC offers. They think KCAC athletes are the ones who couldn’t make it at bigger schools. In some cases that’s true. In other cases, it’s far from the truth.

What is generally true about KCAC basketball is that the athletes are good people. Academics seem to carry weight in the conference, and that makes its sporting events so intriguing to me.

The sporting world is going to be exciting in the next few weeks. Not only is the Super Bowl coming up on Sunday, but the basketball post-season is looming as well. NASCAR will also be starting soon.

I’m a sports fan, so I’m definitely excited. Keep reading, maybe you’ll get to hear about it next month.

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