Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Love, Loss and What I Wore

It's a book I haven't read and a delightful play I just saw.

It also summarizes my thoughts on Illini sports during the month of October.

Love: I love my team. I often claim to bleed orange and blue. I watch. I cheer. I agonize. I rejoice. I support. I am committed to the Illini.

Loss: It started with the first play of the Indiana game - a kickoff returned for a Hoosier TD. The Illini special teams just seemed to have lost the ball carrier. Fortunately, the Illini got that turned around by the end of the first half, and went on to win in Bloomington.

Then came Stripe the Stadium (which looked really, really cool). The Buckeyes were desperate, and they have a very strong defense. It was a battle, and Illini lost turnovers were the difference in a depressing game. The Illini were poised to take off, with a very manageable remaining schedule, minus Wisconsin at home. And they couldn't go anywhere. They struggled to move (and hold on to) the ball. And the Illini picked up their first loss of the season.

Last Saturday the Illini were on the road for the second time this season. And in West Lafayette they picked up right where they left off, allowing big runs on D and struggling to move the ball on offense. Again miscues led to a very disappointing loss. I honestly don't want to dwell on it.

Later in the day, the #1 Illini volleyball team faced their toughest test of the season so far, on the road at #4 Nebraska, who were also undefeated in Big Ten play. This was a great volleyball match. The Huskers jumped out in every set, but in the first one, the Illini fought back and ground out a win. The second set was back and forth, but the Huskers finally pulled it out in the end. And somewhere along the way, the Illini lost their spark. They went on to lose their first match of the season 3-1 in Lincoln.

During the month of October these Illini teams felt the sting of loss.

What I wore: I'm not a fashionista by any stretch. Nor am I superstitious. But the last two Saturdays, I wore my bright orange sweater. It isn't exactly Illini attire, but I intentionally wear it to support my team when I can't wear my team gear. Or I did until last Saturday. I will find something else to wear this Saturday. That will be my effort help the Illini make a better showing in Happy Valley this weekend.

But losses and all, I still say, Go Illini!

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