One of the big perks to moving back to Wichita from NY was the ability to go to WSU basketball games, an experience that feeds the soul. Though I did not go to Wichita State, I grew up in Wichita and was hooked by the Shockers as soon as I went to a game and experienced that crowd, that team, the energy. It is something special. In NY we tried to get involved in local athletics but there was no tie to anything major for us in the Adirondacks. The Mets were 4 hours away as were the Sox, the Bills were 9 hours away, and the Jets or Giants could never steal my love away from the Chiefs. I did get to see Jimmer Fredette play in Glens Falls which was cool, but we were happier to just cheer with our friends for the Bolton Eagles in soccer, baseball, and whatever sports our friend’s kids were playing that season. Still, nothing has perked my passion like WSU Basketball. Since the Shocks are a Missouri Valley team they rarely got TV coverage so I often found myself crouched over a computer listening to the game streaming online…untill now.
Upon moving back I have only missed 1 home game in 2 seasons and have traveled to many away games, tournaments, and functions. This week I traveled with the team to Omaha, Nebraska for the heated rivalry game against the Creighton Blue Jays. Let me just say, Creighton fans might be the rudest I have ever met. Creighton and WSU have been jockeying for first and second place in the Valley all season long and have completely separated themselves from the pack. They beat us on our home court on New Years and now it was our turn to beat them on their court as the season closes in on the tournament. I won’t retell the entire game, for that go to ESPN for the recap, but I will tell you that WSU laid down a major ass whipping. Major.
I was sitting directly behind the bench so I got the full experience of the Creighton fans. During the National Anthem, the student section drunkenly sang along and intentionally over shadowed the singer on the court who was doing a lovely job…on their home court. Their timing was completely off from his so as they sang “…and the rocket’s red glare…” he was still singing “…were so gallantly streaming…” CentryLink Center is an arena where the fans can drink, most NCAA venues don’t allow this, so the fans tend to get belligerent early. On a trip to the bathroom we were boo’d by fans that yelled in our faces, I had popcorn thrown at me, and many expletives as well. Nice. Throughout the game we were verbally accosted…and not the kind of fan vs. fan banter you’d expect, this was just ignorant and mean. With 8 minuets left in the game their fans began to leave in a mass exodus! 8 minutes! We were up by a dozen points but anything can happen in 8 minutes! When the Blue Jays saw their fans leaving it took the wind out of them and they collapsed like flan in the cupboard. The game wound down, the final buzzer blew, and the once record-breaking attendance crowd had been whittled down to a spattering of the Omaha proud. One sign was still visible in the stands held up by one of Creighton’s finest,
“Remember You Live in Wichita”
Was that supposed to be a dig? Seriously? I mean, first of all that is choice coming from Omaha…its not like Omaha is the cultural center of the universe and world-renowned as a great city. They’ve got steaks. It just made me laugh to myself and think, “Hell yes I live in Wichita!” I’ve lived in Boston, New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Bolton Landing before moving to Wichita…and I have to tell you this is one of the best places on earth to call home. I too was worried when I moved here 2 years ago that it would be a boring place to live…I mean..seriously, has anyone outside of Wichita ever heard anything good about Wichita? Do people outside of Wichita even know where Wichita is? Probably not. When I talk to people from Wichita they assume I moved here from NYC because most Midwesterners think of the city when they hear “New York.” In fact I was living in Bolton Landing, a town with a population of around 2,000 in the Adirondack park 4 hours outside of New York City. Most people are shocked to learn that my area of New York is rolling mountains, lakes, and farms.
Wichita is the same, most outsiders have this image in their head of flat nothingness and country-folk wearing camouflage. Truth be told, more people wear camo in Upstate NY than in Wichita, KS. While wheat and dairy is the primary choice of farming in Kansas, Wichita’s economy thrives on entrepreneurial gusto. Wichita is where Pizza Hut, Rent-A-Center, Coleman, and Koch Industries were started along with almost every plane manufacturing company (like Beechcraft) that builds the aircraft that carries all of you over what you call “Flyover Country.” Wichita has very liberal morals and has a very accepting “go-with-the-flow” attitude about things. We are foodies and have a plethora of fine dinning establishments to support that. We have a thriving art scene including galleries, theaters, film festivals, and more.
We left Creighton and Omaha behind as the team plane soared into the night air and whisked us all home to Wichita to celebrate. As we flew into town, Wichita looked majestic from the sky. You could clearly make out The Arkansas River slicing through downtown, who’s skyline was lit up like thousands of stars. The edges of the suburbs drifted off like tendrils into the prairie, where the deer and antelope do truly play, Hawks and bald eagles soar, prairie dogs build communities, and horse back riding isn’t a hobby – its a means of transportation. Money Magazine ranked Wichita as one of the top 10 cities in America to live while MSN Real Estate ranked us #1 as the U.S.’s most affordable large city. MovieMaker Magazine just ranked Wichita in the top 10 cities in America for independent filmmakers to film, which is wonderful news for me as a film producer. There are so many reasons to love Wichita…but right now the most compelling reason is that there are no terrible Creighton fans here. “Remember You Live In Wichita.” You bet your ass I do! The fact that this sign was shown on national television made Omaha look like a very undesirable place to live. Tom Shatel of the Omaha World-Herald added to the disgrace of Creighton fans when he wrote a piece prior to the game childishly poking at Wichita and our coach Gregg Marshall saying, “…you might even see Gregg Marshall, the head Woo-Shock himself, do a jig on the C-link dance floor. Oh, the horror.” Mr. Shatel then referred to Coach Marshall as having “blue paranoia” twice in the article. What is blue paranoia? After the Shockers won on Saturday, Mr. Shatel left the press conference early to avoid the shame of having to face Gregg much like the Creighton fans who left CentryLink at the 8 minute mark. Disgraceful. However, as much as I hate Creighton fans, I wanted to thank them for reminding me why Wichita is such a great place to live. I’m glad I moved here and there is nowhere else I’d rather be right now – not even a big, thriving metropolis, cultural mecca, home of the WORLD-Herald, super-awesome place like Omaha, Nebraska.
Hooray for Wichita, God Bless America and her heartland, and go Shocks!