Back in October, after witnessing our Washington State Cougars lose in the last minute to the Arizona State Sun Devils, I was visiting with my uncle in a Phoenix suburb. He’s a huge California Golden Bears fan. Always has been. Even stayed up late to see them beat the Washington Huskies after that lightning-delayed game in September. Owned season tickets for years even when he lived in Arizona. Stayed up many times to watch the Cal softball team once the Pac-12 Network launched. Taught his grandkids the Cal fight song.
He and I have shared a similar love-hate relationship with college sports. Cal hasn’t exactly been world beaters in the major sports over the years, much like Washington State, but they’ve had their fair share of success, like us. After the loss to Arizona State, I mentioned to him that I am beginning to wonder why I put so much emotional energy into a game played by college students. I will always support Washington State, but man do the highs and low pull me in all sorts of directions.
My uncle lamented that he’s worried he won’t see Cal in a Rose Bowl in his lifetime (he was way too young to remember their 1959 appearance). He admitted his fandom has simmered in recent years—not to the extent that he stopped donating and watching, though. Our reactions to the wins and losses are much more subdued and we don’t get too high, and we don’t get too low. We still support our schools however we can, but we don’t get too emotional. There are more important things than a game played by kids for our entertainment.
When we pulled it out late to beat the Oregon State Beavers last week, I was thrilled, but I wasn’t run-around-the-house-screaming thrilled like I was when we beat Utah in 2014. I wasn’t hugging random strangers like the 2017 win over USC. When we lost to the UCLA Bruins this season, I wasn’t the silent, angry fan like I was after the 2014 loss to Cal. I got over it pretty quickly because, what else was I going to do?
Which brings me to yesterday.
This is seven straight Apple Cup losses. That’s no fun, but I also can’t get too worked up about it. Not when we’ve had the success of the last five seasons, bigger picture and all. I know there are some who would trade it all for an Apple Cup win, but that’s so shortsighted and soft.
As soon as the Apple Cup ended, my attention switched rather quickly to the soccer game. Washington State was in Columbia, S.C. to take on the South Carolina Gamecocks in the Elite Eight. A first-ever trip to the College Cup was at stake. Of course, the match went to overtime because sports don’t care about my heart health.
When Mykiaa Minniss scored in overtime, all the joy in the world returned, and we were headed to the College Cup! It’s was an incredible swing of emotions for me, seeing WSU’s most consistently successful athletic teams punch its ticket to the Final Four:
Fours Up for the final four of Women’s soccer the College Cup#GoCougs pic.twitter.com/Wk5x2LpXWQ— Washington State Soccer (@WSUCougarSoccer) November 30, 2019
Yes, we lost the Apple Cup, but we still have a bowl game coming up. We’re also going to the College Cup.
I thought of my uncle after Minniss’ game-winner. He’d be in my shoes had it been Cal in that game. We’re fans of our school no matter the team or the sport because we love our university.
Winning is fun. Losing isn’t. But the sun still came up today.
I’m off to put up the Christmas lights.
Lightning in a bottle, Minniss and the Cougars are headed to the College Cup.— Washington State Soccer (@WSUCougarSoccer) November 30, 2019
>> https://t.co/qYDSFTZw54#GoCougs #CougsVsEverybody pic.twitter.com/BAL867ddi8
College Cup Bound - Washington State University Athletics
Mykiaa Minniss was golden to send the Cougs past No. 5 South Carolina, 1-0.
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Apple Cup stays with Washington after 31-13 win over Wazzu - Washington State University Athletics
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