Written by Tyler Cate
Saturday evening, as Northwestern began to fuel a momentous run against tournament opponent Elmhurst College in the 2nd round of the NCAA tournament, I found myself firing tweet after tweet expressing my excitement with the effort the Eagles displayed. Stepping back I said to myself, ‘Those who follow me are probably annoyed with all of my posts regarding Northwestern’s Cinderella story’. Well, those who don’t want to hear about UNW’s NCAA Tournament trip should unfollow, unfriend, and undo any type of connection with me for the month of March because I’m not stopping. The pride beams from my fingers as I try to type the story of this incredible journey that I fortunately get to tag along on.
Closing in on graduation, I couldn’t ask for a better send off than being privileged enough to follow the most humble group of men in all of basketball. This team has had one goal all season, not to hoist a trophy in Salem, Virginia but to hoist the glory to God in victory and in each defeat. Standing in the winner’s circle in Salem will come second. Each huddle breaks with the echo of “For Him”, and each one of my post ends in #4Him because we as a University strive to compete for the purpose of God’s glory.
Dating back to my early years at Northwestern, when we were just a college not a University, I found myself setback from the close nit community. I saw it as overwhelming and often referred to it as ‘bubble-like’. Unfortunately, it took me all 4 years to appreciate the community at UNW. Fortunately, it’s something I’ll hold close to heart for the rest of my life. I can’t put into words how amazing this University is. I have lifelong friends on campus, support from faculty and staff that will never fade. Sometimes it takes a team dinner at Applebee’s to realize that. During the opening weekend of the NCAA tourney, I had a number of students, alumni, and parents reach out telling me how fun it is to follow my coverage of the Men’s Basketball program throughout its journey. Without a doubt, those tied to Northwestern have a family-like relationship, and that beamed throughout the weekend.
During the first game against St. Thomas, a number of Women’s basketball players sat right behind the Eagles bench after having made the 4 ½ hour drive to Green Bay. They cheered loud enough for me to feel like we were back at the Erickson Center. Students on spring break, and back at the 3003 sent their love over social media following Porter Morrell’s game-winner against the Tommies. UNW Nation let the team and world know they were supporting from miles away.
Ultimately, there’s something special about this team and school. Jumping to the top 4 play on ESPN, upsetting a top team in the nation, and moving on to the Sweet Sixteen is fantastic and puts UNW on the map but ultimately we’re not fazed because we’re on a mission. A mission to glorify our God, Jesus Christ; and part of that mission may include a nice little journey through the NCAA Division III Tournament, who knows. What I do know is that Northwestern has a rock solid community that is buzzing with emotion and can’t wait to see the noise UNW Nation puts out in the Sweet Sixteen.
Keep the dancing shoes shined.