The 2017 NCAA Division I wrestling championships. | NCAA
Monday, April 3, 2017 || By Rev. Dr. Regi Ratliff || OPINION || @maywoodnews
The spring, particularly the month of March, is my favorite sports season of the year. So many events, so little time.
First and foremost, there is the greatest sporting event of the year! If you think college basketball, I would ask if you were crazy asking me that type of question. Later for that! The top athletic event in march is wrestling.
There is the NCAA Wrestling Championships, which took place at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis. It was a wild three days of championship wrestling on ESPN. So much so that I jumped off my couch and started showing my daughter some of the moves the wrestlers should do.
I hope to convince her to give wrestling a go one day and become a state champion like one of my former girl wrestlers who now attends Proviso East. In the end, Penn State claimed the team championship, thanks to five consecutive Nittany Lions wrestlers winning their individual titles in dramatic fashion.
Because I grew up in Maywood, I remember the days of Proviso East basketball. After wrestling, basketball was a close second in popularity. I remember some of the former Pirates who represented our community and played in the NCAA Tournament.
Some of the names that come to mind are Jim Brewer (Minnesota), Glenn “Doc” Rivers (Marquette), Michael Finley (Wisconsin), Steven Hunter (DePaul), Ronnie Carswell (Illinois), Keith Carter (Valparaiso), Jacob Pullen (Kansas State) and Dee Brown (Illinois).
How can I forget that late night on March 26, 2005, when Brown led a fanatic comeback against Arizona and helped Illinois overcome a late 15-point deficit with less than four minutes remaining to stun the Wildcats in overtime at All State Arena and earn a spot in the Final Four?
I encourage you to watch the last four minutes of that game on Youtube. Even if you aren’t a basketball fan, just watching how Illinois closed regulation with a 20-5 run will give you chills. Let’s not forget that fellow Pirate Shannon Brown helped lead his Michigan State Spartans to the Final Four on the other side of the bracket.
I also want to acknowledge former Pirate Al Nuness for becoming the first African American full-time coach at the University of Minnesota. The University of Minnesota Hall of Fame player served as an assistant under the late Bill Musselman, who led the Gophers to the NCAA Tournament in 1972.
The latest Pirate to represent Maywood in the NCAA Tournament included Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Javon Carter (West Virginia) and Second Team All-American Athletic Conference Sterling Brown (SMU).
For the sake of argument, I am going to include Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year Paris Lee of Illinois State as an alternate. His Redbirds had a fantastic season, winning the regular season championship. They should have easily received an at-large bid.
With all that said, we are about to experience NCAA Championship Madness tonight, when Gonzaga clashes with North Carolina. When I wrote this column, before it was published, I picked first-time Final Four participant South Carolina to beat North Carolina in the championship. Well, I was halfway right.
Let us not forget about the Lady’s Final Four. Before this was published, I had the South Carolina Lady Gamecocks beating UCONN to win it all — which they did!
There are other sports taking place during this Month of March Madness. For you hockey fans, there is the Frozen Four. This event is college hockey’s equivalent to the Final Four. Four storied programs will take the ice during this great competition. Those teams include the University of Denver, the University of Notre Dame, Harvard University and the University of Minnesota-Duluth, who will skate it out for dominance at the United Center this week.
Finally, we have the start of baseball season. The World Series Champion Chicago Cubs (say that 106 times!!!) will lead the charge to repeat as favorites for another World Series Championship. They’ve lost a few key players from last season, but they have reloaded. For White Sox fans, hope does Spring eternal. They should at least make it interesting in the A.L Central this season.
On a side note, I would like to congratulate Village Free Press Editor Michael Romain on the successful transition to becoming a paper. I wish VFP and Mr. Romain continued success.
It’s March Madness! Let the Championship games begin! VFP
Reverend Dr. Regi Ratliff is the founder and executive director of Eternal Light Community Services. Eternal Light provides the following programs: public speaking, financial literacy, health and wellness, and entrepreneurship classes to youth, ages 5-18.
The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of The Village Free Press.