The Maryland vs. Duke game… I am still stunned. I am still in awe. I am still in shock at what I got to witness in person yesterday. It was something of pure excitement and exhilaration; a game that I will never soon forget. I’m still trying to find words that would be even remotely accurate in explaining how great the game was.
Have you ever been to a sporting event – or any event for that matter where everyone around you is going crazy with pride and pure unadulterated excitement? An event where you lose track of anything and everything that doesn’t matter except for what’s going on at that moment? What about being so caught up in a game that you are an emotional wreck. That was me and the atmosphere inside University of Maryland’s Comcast arena yesterday. It felt as though there were not 5000+ individual students, but rather 5000+ students that were exact clones of yourself. Everyone’s emotions were aboard a rocky roller coaster which followed the ups and downs the team was experiencing. We were one coherent whole raging an epic battle against the #2 team in the nation, the Duke Blue Devils.
But before I get to that…
The line for the Duke game early Friday morning with people camping out in front of the student entrance of Comcast arena. If you’ve ever gone Black-Friday shopping you know what I’m talking about.. People had sleeping bags, beach chairs, books and footballs for entertainment and bountiful amounts of blankets. People were curled up sleeping on the grass and on blankets on the pavement. There was a constant stream of students coming and going, some with boxes of pizza or McDonald’s and of course with hot chocolate and coffee in hand. The strategy of most groups in line was to sit/stand/lay in line for 3 hours or so and then have their friends (who also had tickets) take over keeping their spot in line. And I honestly cannot imagine staking out a place in line the morning before the actual game. But people are just that dedicated to seeing the Maryland vs. Duke game, and they are right in being so. The game exceeded every expectation I could have possibly had. Even before the game, the excitement had built in the lines outside the arena. People were pumped up. PEOPLE WERE TOO HYPE.
But my day started off by waking up at 7:15 for my sisters high school regional swim meet at P.G. sports arena over in Landover. One of my roommates Andrew, was out the apartment door at like 6:00 am to meet up with some of our friends Jace, Jeff, and Brian who were in our group. Our strategy was the same as almost every other group, we would come and go but there would always be someone holding our place. Some of our group members had work, some went to get food (and to get warm) and then there was me.. stuck at a swim meet.
I had to support my sister but my proprieties were with my fellow students, in line, as soon as possible. The gates opened at 3:30 at which time there would be a huge, mass rush of students trying to get the best seats possible. And you can be assured that it happened. But the game itself didn’t even start until 6… so we all had 6+ hours of waiting.
The mad rush was terrible.. and by terrible, I mean pretty awesome and we were packed together like sardines on the hill of Comcast Center to get into the student entrance. There was tons of shoving and pushing and yelling of the “Ass-hole” chant to people who tried to sneak in line. I’m Sure like most of the students there, I had absolutely no control over my body. I was being shoved every-which way and haven’t been that close to someone in a couple of months… My only concern was to keep my feet planted flat on the ground as to keep myself from falling over and being trampled to death. I was legitimately frightened at one point.
But once I got into the arena, it was a mad-dash to find the best seats. Brian and I were separated from our other group members who fell behind so it was up to us to get seats. We tried to find seats behind the basket where the yellow shirts were but when we got down there, we realized that they were for the most part taken. We needed 5 seats and the most that were found (still vacant) 3. So we went back up from where we came only to find students had taken our back up seats… But we eventually found seats right in front of where the high school recruits and their families were. All along the student section, free shirts were placed and grouped by color. We were in a black shirt section and it made for a great visual when everyone had them on. The seats were not bad, but I would have liked to be seated down farther with more of the student body. Regardless though, I cannot complain too much because we had decent seats, and we were actually at the game!
Anyway.. the atmosphere inside Comcast was indescribable. Truly. Between the crowd noise and the excitement for the game, it was magical. There were 2 flash mobs which were awesome to be a part of! They worked out so well (Go to YouTube and search “Maryland Students Flash Mob at Comcast Center”) and I cannot remember or put a number on how many times I said “Fuck Duke” either… My guess is a couple hundred times. But I was heavily involved in jumping, shouting, and distracting that I didn’t notice how bad my throat and knees and head hurt until I left. There was not a single dull moment but my stress levels were through the roof. I couldn’t handle it. We were up at the half and we were up for most of the second half but I knew that at any point, Duke would come back and get hot. That was the worst part. Knowing that they could lose the slender lead they had at really any moment. But when we tied the game at 81 with 2 seconds on the clock and with Seth Allen at the charity stripe shooting 2, I knew we had a great chance of winning. And let me tell you… Comcast ERUPTED at the final buzzer and we all stormed the court. (My first picture was when I was on the court) I’ve stormed courts and fields before but nothing compares to this one. Everyone who was anyone was running down the stairs and onto the court. It really is a great feeling getting into a big mosh pit at center court cheering and breaking into chant.
But the night was far from being over.. because it was time to riot.
With close to four minutes left on the clock, Brian turned to all of us saying “They have the riot police out in force.” which was kinda exciting and scary at the same time. I kept saying last year that I wanted to be apart of a riot at UMD just to say that I had been and now I’ve had that chance. After the game we all funneled out of the arena and made out way to our friends apartment on the other side of campus. Cars of fans-mostly middle-aged men, were honking and screaming “Fuck Duke!” out their car windows to the excited crowds of students. I feel as though I will be like those men because I am actually 5 years old at heart and will be forever.
Whilst walking to the our friends apartment, we passed the memorial chapel with the huge 60 wood pallet bonfire raging hard. Don’t worry it was supposed to be there. We all knew and could feel that Rout 1 would be a mass of rioting students so that was we headed.
It really was just a mass group of students moshing and lighting toilet paper on fire. There were people climbing light poles, walls, and at one point the top of a building. A light pole was taken it down to the loud chants of “Bring it down, Bring it down!” But that was the worst of it which was good. All in all I think the riot was quite peaceful, only a couple of students got arrested for disorderly conduct. Although at one point some guy came up to us (while we were in front of Ratsie’s) who was clearly drunk and handed either Brian or Jace a metal pipe saying something along the lines of “Take this and lets break some shit!” But other than that, it was quite enjoyable to just stand on a wall and watch the events unfold. The police did a good job of quarantining the area and letting it run its course. I am so incredibly glad and happy that I got a ticket to this game and that I went. It was easily one of the top 3 moments of my life and I will not soon forget it.
I love being a student here at the University of Maryland especially when we win big games like the one yesterday. I love our fan base and nothing compares to the atmosphere inside Comcast arena when all 17000 people are on their feet, yelling and cheering for our Maryland Terps. After looking back on the game what stands out the most isn’t the fact that we beat Duke, but that we beat the #2 team in the nation and the #1 team in the coaches poll. I have high hopes for the basketball team in the future after last nights nail-biter, things may finally be looking up for UMD sports. Go Terps!