ASU comes in second in national championship
||Fourth graders are led in a cheer by Dr. Bloodworth.
Augusta State’s men’s basketball team is the second best team in the nation. It’s official. Coming in second in the NCAA Division II Elite Eight is quite an achievement. Fans who made the 18-hour bus trip to Springfield or who flew up by plane and those who followed the tournament on the web or on television may be a little disappointed that the Jaguars didn’t win—but they are more than happy with the way they played. Heart. Class. They made us proud.
In the quarterfinal round on Wednesday, March 26, ASU defeated Central Oklahoma University in double overtime, 106–104. In the semifinal round on Thursday, March 27, they defeated Anchorage-Alaska, 56–50. And in the final game on Saturday, March 29, they played extremely well, losing to Winona State University 76–87. And in-between the games, the team practiced, met with Springfield residents at a meet and greet, gave interviews to a number of television stations and newspapers, visited a children’s hospital, participated in a youth clinic, and won the hearts of over 100 fourth graders in Springfield.
Fourth graders in about 20 schools in the Springfield area were assigned Division II institutions to follow in regional playoffs. This allowed them to learn something of the geography, economics, and social conditions of the regions they were assigned. Darton Elementary School was one of the schools that followed the Jaguars. All of the fourth graders showed up for the quarterfinals, many sporting signs and homemade Jaguar tee-shirts. They were as vocal as the ASU fans who made the trip to Springfield. Their enthusiasm was contagious.
The following day, Kathy Schofe and Heather Hopkins, public relations office, and Leza Witherington, communications and professional writing, paid a visit to the school to take pennants, a team photo, and other Jaguar “goodies.” The children were still excited. One admitted to having started a fan club for one of the players. The team, cheerleaders, Al E. Cat, and president had made an impression on the students. As the school’s counselor reinforced the value and need for a college education, the message came through loud and clear. It takes more than talent to succeed; it takes an education.
In athletics, it also takes heart. And that’s a message that also came through loud and clear to the thousands of fans that ASU and the team didn’t even know they had. Throughout the city, there was pride in its team. Restaurant marquees proudly advertised that they were showing the game. Alumni gathered together to watch it, and students, faculty, and staff gathered in the Jaguar Student Activities Center ballroom. All cheering for their team. All proud of their team for taking them to the Elite Eight. It would have been nice to win the championship—but it was awfully nice just to have made it to the Elite Eight–and to make it to the final round. We made history. That’s something to cheer about. That’s something we’ll always remember. Thanks, Jags.
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