AUGUSTINKY: University builds life long passion for ‘Nova athletics

Jamie Augustinsky

Four years ago, I didn’t have much to be excited about in the sports world. I grew up a diehard Philadelphia baseball and football fan, but throughout my high school years I watched each Eagles’ playoff runs end in heartbreaking defeat. The Phillies’ playoff runs were nonexistent. Since no one in my immediate family had ever gone to college, I had no real ties or loyalty to any specific college team.

I went to a very small Catholic high school in the very small town of Dunmore, Pa. All of our athletes tried really hard at their sports, and we had a tremendous amount of school spirit for such a small school, but we just didn’t have the amount of people or the pool of talent needed to compete with the bigger schools in our area. During my freshman year of high school, the only other small Catholic high school in the area won the state championship in basketball. I remember seeing news footage and newspaper photographs of Gerry McNamara, who was a senior in high school at that point and went on to play basketball for Syracuse, holding the championship trophy and being so envious of the students at that school. They went to a small, family-like school that was still able to be part of a winning tradition. I didn’t know at that time that four years later, I would be a part of that exact kind of place.

During my senior year of high school, I was having a hard time deciding between the schools on my list of three or four colleges, one of the being Villanova. I was watching the NCAA tournament with my mom when ‘Nova was playing UNC and I boldly made the statement that if Villanova won that game, then that would be the college I’d attend. As we all know, Villanova did not come out of that game with a victory, but on the very last possible day before the first deposit deadline, it was the school I ended up sending my check to. It was one of the best decisions of my life.

When I first came here, I found the pride that the students had in their school amazing. Everyone was so passionate about not only the men’s basketball team, but all the sports teams and just the entire school in general. Villanova was so much more than just a school to any of the students who attended it. It was a community and a family.

By my sophomore year, this Villanova pride was a huge part of who I was. I would wear my Villanova gear whenever I was home, and when people asked me if ‘Nova was my school, I would smile and proudly respond that it was. I looked forward to each and every basketball game, whether I was packed with all the other students in the Pavilion or making the trek to the Wachovia Center to watch a big match-up.

I would sit in crowded rooms with my best friends watching away games, and it always amazed how we knew that every other TV in the Quad was turned to the same channel, watching our Wildcats.

I can remember being in class during Big East tournaments when everyone would have their laptops out, pretending to take notes but really watching the games. I can remember knowing that on any given night when there was a game, if ‘Nova were to win, everyone would want to go out and celebrate, but if our ‘Cats were to fall, we would all just be too depressed to do anything. I was finally part of a tradition that went so far beyond just winning. We stood by our teams through wins and losses. The Wildcats were not only who we cheered for, but who we were.

One of my best friends from high school goes to Penn State, and throughout the last four years, I went to his school to visit him a few times. I’ve been to my fair share of Penn State football games, and if you’ve ever been to one of them, you can’t argue with the fact that they really are one of a kind. Everything from the tailgating in the parking lot before the game to the huge amounts of people able to fit into Beaver Stadium on a Saturday afternoon was incredible. But somehow, every time I was there, I could never sense the family-like atmosphere found here.

Being such a huge school, there are way more Nittany Lions then there are Wildcats, yet they are not the community that we are here. That’s what has always amazed me about our school. Our athletics have gained us national recognition and esteem, yet being a smaller, private university, we were always able to retain that sense of community and family that bigger state schools are just not able to.

While I didn’t have much in the world of sports to cheer about my senior year in high school, I have witnessed more historical sporting events as a senior in college than I could have ever hoped for. Earlier this year, I got to see the Phillies win a World Series and was fortunate enough to be able to attend the parade on Broad Street. I saw our football team have a great season and advance in the playoffs. I witnessed the women’s basketball team pull a huge upset in beating Notre Dame at the Pavilion, and I was fortunate enough to be at the Garden in Boston when our men’s team advanced to the Final Four for the first time since 1985. Just as I watched McNamara hoist up the state championship trophy those seven years ago, this time I watched our players proudly hold up the east championship trophy. I was there to take the pictures of it this time. I was one of the fans cheering for the winners.

During my time as a sportswriter for The Villanovan, I witnessed the triumph of so many of our own athletes and sports teams. I feel so fortunate to have been a part of the Villanova community. Next year, I will be attending Marquette Law School. People always ask me what team I’ll cheer for when the Villanova plays Marquette. My answer is easy: I am a Wildcat. And no matter where my life takes me, I always will be.

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Jamie Augustinsky is a senior communication major from Scranton, P.A. She can be reached at jamie. [email protected]