The amazing rise of the Texas Tech men’s basketball team, and their first ever Final Four appearance, kept me glued to my television set the past two weeks. I love college basketball, and rooted for Texas Tech, my alma mater, enthusiastically as they knocked off opponent after opponent as an underdog team.
Texas Tech holds a special place in my heart because its where I was educated and it’s also where I met my husband, Larry. After we married at the end of the 1966 school year, we lived in student housing just two or three blocks from the basketball stadium on campus. Although we were often too busy to attend games, we still rooted for the team and kept a close eye on how their team was performing.
In the years that followed, I’ve kept a love for basketball at every juncture of my life. When I was in graduate school, at the University of Kansas, the KU men’s basketball program was dynamic (they still are) and I frequently watched live games in Lawrence. And while I was working in Chicago, I became a huge fan of Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls’ dynamic championship teams.
But my love for basketball started long before any of these experiences. In fact, my affinity for basketball goes all the way back to when I was eight years old in my hometown of Seminole.
I’ll never forget when the high school men’s basketball team earned the opportunity to play in the 1955 state finals in Austin, Texas. Daddy came home and announced that he and his friend, Brome Marshbanks, had decided it would be a fun idea to take their families to Austin, so we could support our Seminole basketball team.
By the time we decided to go to the game, there were no motel or hotel rooms available in Austin. But Daddy was a man who didn’t give up. We were thrilled when he learned that one of the nicest hotels had arranged to convert their huge ballroom into small units divided by wall-to-ceiling curtains. We slept on cots in our tiny spaces before the game the next day.
Spending the night, along with our close friends, camping out in a cramped hotel ballroom anticipating the big game was an adventure I’ll never forget. The next day’s Seminole men’s basketball championship matchup was even more amazing. I remember the game as if it took place yesterday: the thrill of the action on the court, the excitement of the cheerleaders and the cacophony of the scoreboard buzzer.
I’ll never forget Daddy explaining the rules of the game to me. He talked about fouls, scoring, shooting and the strategy on the court. Best of all, our Seminole team won the state title game that day.
Sadly, Daddy passed away the following year. The memory of him taking us to that state title game will remain with me always, etched deep within my soul. To this day, I’m convinced that my lifelong passion for basketball was born out of that experience.
Watching the Red Raiders run this year reminded me of all the great times I’ve had throughout my life watching this amazing sport. The experience of watching these beautiful athletes compete for the lifetime experience of winning a national championship is something that will always spark joy for me.
What are some of your favorite sports memories?
© Tyra Manning 2019