16 Mar
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Home State Team: Wyoming Cowboys

TV with NCAA basketball bracket

Wyoming is all I know. The things that drove me crazy as a teen and had me dreaming of ways out of the west are the same things that made me stay to raise my own family.

As a high school senior, I was set on moving to Michigan, but then an offer from the University of Wyoming had me packing my bags for Laramie. I was not excited, but in hindsight, that choice led me to a pretty darn good present day. UW is the only four-year university in the state. We’re home to several junior colleges, but there are no state colleges or in-state Division I rivals. The Wyoming Cowboys are the home team.

University of Wyoming Arena Auditorium

In a state of 580,000 people, you’re hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t own at least one piece of clothing with a bucking horse on it, the logo for the university, as well as the state. When things go well with the Cowboy football and men’s basketball teams, it’s front page statewide news. The current men’s basketball team is senior-laden and well-loved by fans. On Saturday, they did what few people truly believed they would and won the Mountain West Conference men’s basketball tournament, which is a first for UW.

University of Wyoming Arena Auditorium

This is BIG news for Cowboy fans. Social media lit up with the accomplishment. I had to restrain myself from posting just one more thing about the Pokes. The tournament win means we’re heading to the Big Dance with our cowboy boots on. The NCAA tournament hasn’t seen the Cowboys since 2002. That tournament is the center of one of my life regrets. We could have traveled to Albuquerque, N.M. to watched our beloved Pokes make it to the second round that year, but didn’t. Every March I beat myself up for not making the trip. Now, we’re more adult than we were 12 years ago, and have commitments and responsibilities that will keep us away from Seattle and this year’s first round game on Friday.

Children posing with Wyoming basketball player Larry Nance Jr.

We bleed brown and gold in this house along with so many other Cowboy fans across the state. We’ve had a few brief moments to chat with a couple of the players on the team. They are genuinely good guys who deserve to have this time in the spotlight. This season our kids patiently waited after a home game for a chance at autographs with Larry Nance Jr. and Josh Adams. It was a long line and those men made sure everyone who wanted a moment of their time got it. They chatted with our kids, willingly posed for photos and signed autographs. I’m sure they wanted to be with their friends or families celebrating the win they just earned, but I never felt they were trying to rush through any of the moments with their fans. They were gracious and friendly.

Children posing with Wyoming basketball player Josh Adams

My short-lived sports reporting career was in Laramie. I covered various high school sports, but also UW athletics. I saw firsthand the pressure on college athletes to perform. In a state with only one university to cheer for, the pressure from fans can be ridiculous. As a parent, I look back on those athletes I interviewed through a much different lens. Their athletic skill is one thing, but to handle all the aspects of being a student-athlete gracefully is a gift.

One of the perks for a college basketball junkie who works from home is the ability to clear schedules and watch a whole lot of basketball in March. I tease my husband that one reason I gave up a career to stay home with our children was for the opportunity to fully enjoy March Madness each year. We spent last night watching highlight reels from the Cowboy season. The kids are already talking about which is their luckiest Wyoming shirt to wear on Friday. Little ones are begging to stay home from school to watch the late morning game. Our youngest said we need to rest our voices in preparation for all the future yelling.  I can make a strong case for the radio at least being on in classrooms.

We take our Cowboys seriously in Wyoming. I’m ecstatic that their work and effort brought them to this point, and I’m excited to call our own. Let’s go Pokes!


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