I can’t help but think that as a sports fan I chose the best time and place to attend university, here at USF over the past four years. Between the Giants, 49ers, and Warriors I have witnessed so many incredible feats of will and athleticism and I know that I will always be grateful to have been able to attend school in an area with so many amazing teams doing so many amazing things.
It all began in October of my freshman semester. The whole city was abuzz with excitement over the Giants and their stellar postseason run, which had just landed them in the World Series. For the first three games of the series I watched with my friends in the dorms on a tiny television, or down in the UC first floor, crowded around the TV’s in the lounge area. But when it came time for the final clinching game of the series my friends and I piled onto a bus with a jug of Caribou Lou and dozens of other excited fans and traveled down to the Civic Center where the game was being projected on a massive screen. The crowd was tense as the game went to extra innings but a Giants score in the top of the inning sent everyone wild and put victory in sight. Everyone was on their toes as Sergio Romo took the mound to attempt to seal the deal for the Giants but that tension quickly turned to elation as Romo struck out the final batter to make the Giants world champions.
The crowd erupted in celebration and soon was coursing through the streets in the direction of AT&T Park, not as individuals but as a single united entity. When we reached the park it seemed like the whole city showed up to take part in the celebration. There were people everywhere,jumping and screaming in glee while chants of “GIANTS!” and “SWEEP!” could be heard coming from a thousand different directions. That night was one of the most exciting times in the city and even though I do not root for the Giants, it was wonderful to see the city and its people come together to celebrate in this way.
In the second semester of that same school year my friends and I were still ecstatic about the Giants victory but our attention was now focused on another San Francisco team that had fought it’s way to the championship, the 49ers. At least eight of us crowded together in our friend Zed’s dorm room to watch the Super Bowl, hoping to once again pour into the streets to celebrate a championship. Sadly, our expectations turned to disappointment as the Niners fought hard but came up just short of the victory. Despite the loss, it was still a great experience to watch the city’s team play in the Super Bowl, surrounded by all of my friends and fans of the team.
Despite the loss, the city’s hopes of another major sports championship would not have to remain hopes for too much longer. Just two years after their last chip, the Giants were back in the World Series and this series would prove to be much more exciting than the last, going to seven games instead of a sweep. My memory of the victory is similar to my memory of their first win, with my friends and I trekking down to City Center to watch on the giant screen. The crowd poured into the streets after the victory and the city was filled jubilation once more.
Two championships were more than enough for me but little did I know that the ride was not over yet. During my time at USF the Bay Area’s basketball team, the Warriors transformed from a good team to maybe the most formidable force in the NBA. With 67 regular season wins, they cemented themselves at the top of the Western Conference and were soon on their way to the NBA Finals. The Warriors, who had gone without a championship since 1975, were facing off against another city and team just as hungry for the gold: Cleveland. The Cavaliers and LeBron James put up a good fight, extending the series to six games but in the end the Warriors were too in sync to be toppled, and they brought the Bay Area its first basketball championship in 40 years.
While everything I had seen up to that point had been amazing to watch, the most awe inspiring sporting event happened in my final year at USF: the Warriors breaking the single season win record. In Dec. 2015, Golden State had already broken the record for best start to a season with 24 straight wins without a single loss. This put the same question on everyone’s minds. Could they actually do it? Could they really hit 73 wins? It was one of the most stressful regular seasons of the NBA I’ve ever watched but the Warriors kept winning, making it more likely with each victory that they would hit their mark. Nearing the end of the season they were still on track, but they had one massive obstacle still in their way, the San Antonio Spurs, who they would have to beat twice to set the record. The Spurs had been nearly as good as the Warriors during the regular season and were also hunting for a 70 plus win finish. The two juggernauts faced off twice at the end of the season and each time the smoke cleared the Warriors came away as the victors. These two victories gave them 72 wins and set them up for an easy finish against the Grizzlies in their final game of the season. So once again I crowded around a television with my friends to watch something incredible happen. The reason I say this was the event that amazed me the most was because I really did not think it was possible to finish with single digit wins. I never thought I would get to see it happen, and yet I was lucky enough to witness it in the area where the team is from. I was in absolute disbelief and quite honestly still am.
As if all of this was not enough, I am still getting to see sports history being made. Even now as my college career comes to an end I am lucky enough to watch the Warriors fight for yet another championship. It has been an absolute privilege to experience all of this in a beautiful city, filled with die-hard fans, who root for amazing teams that do unbelievable things.
Photo courtesy of John Holton/Foghorn