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Spontaneous Goodness: SEC Men’s Basketball Final Four

Chloe Stegeman

This weekend was one for the books.

Friday night I planted myself on my bed to watch the SEC Men’s Basketball tournament coverage on my seldom-used television after a day of relaxation and running at the park. It was the hour of greatness: after a season full of “almosts” and “could-haves,” the Vanderbilt Men’s basketball team shamed the Kentucky Wildcats in one of the biggest upsets of the season. Call it Memorial Magic or just a long time coming—either way, I was compelled to reach for my computer.

In an out of body experience, I found myself purchasing tickets to Session 6 (i.e. the Final Four) to watch the Commodores take on 3rd seeded Ole Miss. Let the weekend begin!

On this particular Saturday, in addition to hosting the Men’s Basketball tournament, downtown Nashville was hosting its first annual St. Patrick’s Day festivities. As I cruised in my ride with the windows down, my senses were bathed in the sights and sounds of the city—Florida and Alabama fans, Kentucky, Ole Miss, and Vanderbilt fans littered the sidewalks, intermingled with the St.Patty’s Day celebrators.

Unsurprisingly, in proper southern-town fashion, I was greeted kindly by strangers young and old on my walk from the parking deck to the stadium. Nothing beats sunshine and smiles folks!

On approaching Bridgestone Arena, I was swept up into the sports-fanatic frenzy: announcers were giving a play by play of the current tournament standings, Cory Smith fans gathered in front of the large red and black stage adjacent to the stadium entrance, and vendors pushed the sales of SEC tournament t-shirts and funnel cakes.

It was time. I entered the arena just in time for the start of the Florida-Bama game. Fans were screaming, the Florida mascot was dancing, pom poms glittered in the light, and the teams were set. For someone who has never been to a legitimate basketball tournament before, the feeling of being in that stadium was engulfing and surreal in the best of ways.

After a quiet first game, I came into my natural element when the ‘Dores took the court after the end of the first game. The Vandy fans united, cheering our team on in what was to be a match of highs and lows.  Edged out by a competitive Ole Miss team, the ‘Dores’ loss was hard fought.

Overall, I’d like to say my spontaneous adventure paid off. In spite of witnessing a hard loss, Nashville became my home on that Saturday. Call me floating on Cloud 9 from a day in the sunshine, but from the people to the sports fanatics to the rich history of the city, I rediscovered that Nashville, TN (and Vanderbilt of course!) is right where I want to be.

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