Green River Star -

By Jack H. Smith
Staff Writer 

Cowboys game was a trip to the fountain of youth

 


It’s pretty simple to say that life was a lot more simple growing up.

There was nothing quite like waking up with the biggest concern being which hill to try to fly down on a bicycle or knowing that it was the weekend. I could spend literally all day trying to solve the video game I had just purchased.

And while this is a time you can never return to, there are some rare moments that take me back to my childhood.

It can be something a simple as a smell, or maybe a song that I used to jam on my tape player. The other day I heard a New Kids on the Block song and it made me cringe that I knew the words, but it also made me smile because I remembered being in sixth grade and riding around on my bike with my new New Kids on the Block album blaring in my walkman. As the late, great Stuart Scott would say, I thought I was as cool as the other side of the pillow. I sure wasn’t, but just the memory put me in a good mood.

On New Year’s Eve, I had another one of those moments that took me back to my childhood for more than just a brief second. It was two hours transported back to some of my favorite memories and some of my favorite people.

I’m a huge University of Wyoming fan and although I love to watch the football team, I’ve always preferred watching the Cowboy basketball team.

As a child, my grandparents would take me all the time to Laramie to watch the Pokes play at the Arena Auditorium.

As a ten-year-old kid, the A.A. was the most amazing place in the world. At the time, Wyoming had one of the better programs in the nation and the place was always packed and always rowdy.

The noise in that building when its packed is far louder than any pro sports stadium I’ve been to.

I was amazed by the passion of Wyoming fans. The way they yelled at the bad calls, or cheered with a three-point basket or dunk.

I could look around the stands and just be mesmerized by those around me.

This also gave me a strong love of college basketball, which I prefer far more than the NBA where the players are far to selfish and the games are far too long.

While I enjoyed the basketball games immensely, getting to spend the time with my grandparents was the best part.

They would do anything to make their grandchildren happy and we were also able to share a passion with them.

My grandfather, a UW alum who played both basketball and football in Laramie, loved to support his Cowboys almost as much as he loved my grandma and I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone love a couple that loved each other as much as them.

Even through high school, I would still go the games often with my grandparents and I continued to go with friends when I was a student in Laramie.

When I finished with school and moved away I started working with newspapers and often times this includes weekends or working at night which made if difficult to get to Laramie.

I would attend a few games a year, but would usually be limited to football because driving over Elk Mountain during basketball season can be a really stupid decision.

As a kid, I remember it snowing and the adults debating in Rawlins wether or not to turn around, but I never knew how bad of a stretch of interstate that was till I moved to Laramie.

Four years ago, the University of Wyoming basketball program hired Larry Shyatt and at that moment, I knew the team would be well coached and for the first time in years start to contend for a berth in the NCAA tournament.

This year I made a decision that I would try to make it to a few basketball games. Not only did I want to support my team, I wanted to return to the scene of so many great memories.

The week leading up to the game was awful. I was so excited to get to Laramie, but I was nervous because the snow came and the temperatures dropped.

At one point it was so cold I thought I was going to fall to the ground and not get back it back to the house with somethings as simple as taking the garbage to the outdoor trash can.

It turns out that although it was cold, the roads over Elk Mountain and into Laramie were as good as I’ve ever witnessed in the wintertime.

After a great dinner, I made it to the game and right as I walked into the doors of the arena, I was young again.

There were the smells of popcorn and the anticipation of all the fans not only excited to see the Pokes play a tough game against UNLV, but just to see a quality team again.

Thanks to a recent renovations, there were a lot of nice changes at the arena, but at heart it was still the same.

Because of the holiday and lack of students, it was a smaller crowd, but it was just as loud as those I remember as a child.

I felt young again and it was nice to scream and act like a bafoon to the point I thought my girlfriend was going to try and find a different seat.

It was a great evening and I think it’s an adventure I’ll be taking a lot more in the future.

 

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