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A Jersey State of Mind

Learning to love the Border War

My exposure to the KU/Misery rivalry came early. I was raised a Jayhawk fan by parents both born and raised in Kansas, but I grew up in New Jersey with limited exposure to the Border War. When my sister and I were old enough to understand, my Dad told us both that my parents would pay for us to go to any college in the country we could get into except one... the University of Missouri. This caught me by surprise. I could not understand why my Dad would feel so strongly about that. Needless to say, after attending KU and going to multiple KU/MU games, I understand. The strong feelings about Misery stuck and have only grown since then. As a KU student, I went to the rivalry games every chance I got. My sister and her fiance met at the game several years ago.

The most memorable experience I've had with the rivalry was back in 2005 when a group of my friends and I went to Columbia for the last game at the Hearnes Center. The year before, Aaron Miles had won the game for KU on a last minute shot that silenced the entire crowd in Columbia. The KC Star headline the next day was "The Shot Heard Round the Border" with a picture of Aaron Miles. My friend and I made up fliers on card stock paper with the inscription "You're invited to a replay of..." followed by the headline from the previous year's KC Star. We wrote Rock Chalk Jayhawk Go KU in red and blue permanent marker on every flier and placed them on car windshields outside the Columbia Mall the night before the game. Little did we know that one of the cars we'd put a flier on belonged to an MU basketball player! They weren't too happy about the flier, and we had to hide in the van we had rented for the drive down (even though the windows were covered in KU flags/banners). We made it to the game the next day though, and we got together with a random group of KU fans in the upper deck. The group ended up outcheering the Misery fans throughout the game, and we won another one in Columbia. I got autographs by the entire team on my hat after the game. But one of my favorite parts of the whole experience was hearing the Rock Chalk Chant echo through the halls, closing out the final game of the Hearnes center as we exited the building. What an experience!

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A Jayhawk for life

I always knew I wanted to go to KU, because I grew up a Jayhawk fan. My parents are from Kansas and took me by the campus almost every summer. When I got to my first semester of college, all my friends called me Jersey since I grew up there, and the nickname stuck. Growing up with a Dad who was fanatical about KU basketball must have stuck too. Most people are familiar with the Jayhawks due to the basketball program, and I've seen some great games over the years. I was at the thrilling overtime victory against Georgia Tech at Allen Fieldhouse in 2005 and the last game at the Hearnes Center in 2004 in Columbia where we won with 2 seconds remaining on a shot by former Jayhawk David Padgett. The most exciting of them all was being at the NCAA Championship Game in San Antonio, Texas. I was living in San Antonio at the time and had decided to go down to the Riverwalk to watch the game. With about 20 minutes left until tipoff, my friend and I decided to walk the few blocks to the Alamodome and see if we could find some cheap tickets. People were still trying to sell over face value, so we decided to give up with about 10 minutes to go and try to find somewhere to watch the game on TV. We were approached by a scalper, and after we told him we only had $30 each for tickets we figured we'd be on our way back to the Riverwalk, but we got tickets instead! Once we had the tickets in hand, we turned around and ran all the way back to the Alamodome, got through security and got up to our seats. They were limited view, but what did we care? We were at THE game! We met up with another friend a few sections closer to the court and sat in a couple seats abandoned by UNC fans. I almost shed a tear for the UNC fans missing the game. The semi-final was for many KU fans a game of redemption, beating Roy Williams in such a commanding fashion. But there was game left to go. In the middle of a huge crowd of Jayhawk fans, I lost my voice and almost lost my hearing throughout the course of the game. The place was electric. I didn't think I had anything left, but when Mario hit that shot with 2.1 seconds to go, I was cheering and jumping around so much that my friend had to grab the back of my shirt to stop me from falling several rows forward. I knew then that we had the Championship, the 2nd one in my lifetime. Nothing compares to hearing the Rock Chalk Chant at the end of a title game and watching our team cut down the nets. Between the NCAA title and the Orange Bowl victory, 2008 has been a great year to be a Jayhawk fan:one I will never forget.

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