Sitting in the twenty-fourth row, seat 3, I prepare to watch the Iowa State Cyclones take on the Missouri Tigers in women’s basketball. To those who don’t follow NCAA division I women’s basketball, the Cyclones are one of the top programs in the country. They are consistently in the top 20, and are currently ranked 13th. When attending an ISU game, be it men or women’s basketball, one is sure to be impressed by ‘Hilton Magic’. The magic comes from the boisterous cheers of the fans, who I believe, supported the women enough to have the 4th or 5th highest attendance in the nation last year.
The style of play is fun to watch. In their last home game, against Baylor, the women made 16 three pointers from only 33 attempts. I look forward to the battle.
Sitting in row 24 and looking down at the polished hard wood floor, I think about my days working at Hilton Coliseum. I was on the custodial staff in college and loved working the women’s games. Back then, the crowds were much smaller, so it was an easy gig, plus I got to watch the games. I think about days working custodial, about studying economics, and playing speed chess every chance I could. I had no idea what life would be like after college.
The path chosen is markedly less interesting than the one I am on now. I ran a candle manufacturing plant, worked as an analyst at GEICO, and spent 3 years building spaces in virtual worlds. Each of those paths were interesting, but far less thrilling than running my hand across a piece of finely sanded hard maple or oak. Feeling the smoothness and marveling at the beauty of the wood. Woodworking, whether it is creating a jig for routing, reading a magazine or book on the subject, or wondering the isles at The Woodsmith Shop, it is the most fun I have ever had. And let me tell you, there have been some pretty fun times. Some of those times involved wearing a Santa suit, going on a bar crawl, and drinking more vodka than a Russian sailor on shore leave.
Admittedly, I remember more of the details from my woodworking, so it may not be a fair comparison. I do know that each day of the journey seems better than the day before.
While I tap my toes to the ISU band’s rendition of Dexie’s Midnight Runners, ‘Come On Eileen’, I review the day. Since I was in Des Moines and away from my, and I use the term loosely, workshop, I couldn’t work on my router table. I could, however, go to the Woodsmith Store. I had one goal, to buy some practice wood. When I purchased the bevy of DVDs from Taunton Press, I had included in the mix, one that dealt with the art of chip carving. I don’t know much of anything about chip carving presently. I do know that, for a novice, practicing on hard woods isn’t at all enjoyable. In fact, it boarders on impossible.
The helpful people at The Woodsmith Store, pointed me to some small ¼ inch basswood. I bought some of the basswood and a couple of magazines.
Time was not on my side. I didn’t have nearly as much time as I would have liked. For you see, I was in desperate need of an ‘Emergency Hair Cut’. In just the nick of time, I pulled into Sports Clip, where Katie, rushed in and performed the incredibly complicated and difficult, hairectomy. If I had been twenty minutes later, I probably wouldn’t have made it. Katie was brilliant! Cute as a button, she showed not the slightest bit of fear. I left feeling confident that I would no longer frighten small children or cause, normally friendly dogs, to snarl and growl.
The crowd began to cheer. The game was still 15 minutes from tipping, but Hilton was paying its respects to one of the greatest women’s basketball players in ISU history. Angie Welle, number 32, ran up and down the floor from 1999-2003, and broke scores of records. It was on her shoulders and those of the team from 2000, who beat Uconn, to advance to the Elite Eight in the NCAA tournament, that Bill Finley built his nationally respected basketball powerhouse.
The number 32 is unfurled from the rafters, the crowd cheers, and Angie Welle returns to sit with her friends, family and former teammates, in the stands. The current starters jump out to an 18 – 2 lead. Go Cyclones!