I applied and was accepted to the University of Maryland in 2007. My first day on campus at College Park was January 28th, 2008. I was moving into my dorm and had just set up my computer for the first time, when I got a text from a friend of mine, Robbie Glotfelty, who was a senior at the time. He said, “Hey if you’re in CP and settled into your room, I have an extra ticket to the Duke-Maryland game tonight.” I texted back “Yeah definitely, how do I get the ticket from you?” He explained that Maryland has a lottery system for awarding student tickets. Tickets for this game had been sold out for weeks, but he had one that he could give me. All I had to do was log into the ticketing website and as he released the ticket I would click the request button and hopefully get his newly released ticket floating in cyberspace. He texts me, “I released it.” I hit request. Nothing, no tickets available. I click it again. Still nothing. I click furiously about 10 times and still get nothing. Losing hope I click the button and finally viola “CONGRATS YOU HAVE RECEIVED A TICKET”. Holy shit, it worked.
By this point it’s only a few minutes before tip. I immediately get up, borrow a Maryland shirt from my roommate Nick whom I had just met 2 hours ago and walk with him all the way across campus to Comcast Center (I refuse to call it Xfinity. This is a story from 2008. It’s still and always will be Comcast). We arrive late and we squeeze into seats at the very top of the The Wall, the Maryland student section. The place is fucking packed. Immediately the entire arena goes dark and everyone around me grabs newspapers draped over the back of their seats and start rattling them in a papery cacophony. Zombie Nation starts booming over the loud speakers. I can hear nothing. Blindly I grab the newspapers and start flapping them in front of my face like everyone else. I’m going ape shit and I’ve been here for 3 minutes. THIS. IS. COLLEGE PARK.
Johnny Holiday, the Terps radio broadcaster/in-arena announcer begins announcing Duke’s starting line up as boos and jeers rise to a fever pitch. “A JUNIOR FROM SYRACUSE, NEW YORK, AT GUARD #3 GREG PAULUS” “SUCKS!” the entire crowd shouted at once. “A SOPHOMORE FROM NORTHBROOK, ILLINOIS, AT GUARD #30 JON SCHEYER.” “SUCKSSSSS!!!” I was in shock. It was the most amazing display of bold faced hatred and group camaraderie I had ever witness, and it was fucking incredible. THIS. IS. COLLEGE PARK.
The game started with Bambale Osby winning the tip followed by a fast break dunk by James Gist. The entire arena went absolutely nuts. I was jumping around and screaming like I had been a fan of this team my entire life and James Gist was my flesh and blood. From that point on it was We and not they. I had grown indifferent to Duke in the years since they won their title in 2001, and I had appreciated the 2002 Maryland team, but this was a feeling I had never experienced in my entire life. Duke was #4 in the nation and we were not expected to do very well in the ACC. We scored 51 points on them in the first half and played about as well as any team that I had ever seen in person. We ended up losing the game in the end, but honestly it didn’t really matter. My introduction to the University of Maryland was one that I will never forget. I have been a Terps loyalist for 8+ years now. I’ve lived and died with those ass-busting, over achieving Gary Williams teams of the late 00’s. They embodied everything that Gary represented. Outworking the competition. Fuck the Duke Blue Devils.
I love the Maryland Terrapins with my whole heart. Though my professional teams may make no sense logically or geographically, I am glad that I made a sensible decision in pledging my mind, body, soul, and higher education to the University of Maryland.