Commentary

A view from the Butler campus

Originally Published: March 31, 2010
By Emily Newell | Special to Page 2

I went to nearly every home basketball game this season, but never was there such intensity as there was on campus Saturday after the Bulldogs' win over the No. 2-seeded Kansas State Wildcats.

The win clinched a spot for Butler in the Final Four, which will be held at Lucas Oil Stadium, just a few miles from campus.

As soon as the game ended, I headed over to the main part of campus. Police had already shut down Hampton Drive, home of three dorm buildings and many of the fraternities and sororities.

A thousand or more students were in the street, hugging, celebrating, yelling and enjoying what is truly a historic moment for Butler University.

We're a small (about 4,500 including graduate students), private university located in the Butler-Tarkington neighborhood. Suddenly, campus is flooded with people. Members of the media are here to cover any small story that is, in some way, related to Butler basketball.

During the postgame celebration, music blared outside Atherton Union, which houses several offices, a computer lab, a dining hall, Starbucks and the bookstore. Students gathered together to sing Queen's "We Are the Champions," "We Will Rock You" and "Another One Bites the Dust."

Even Butler University President Bobby Fong got in on the action as he crowd-surfed across the student body that stood in the street.

What was most entertaining, however, was the growth of sophomore Gordon Hayward's rap he recorded with friends over spring break.

"Too Big Yo" has become the theme for almost everything. It was the first song played during the celebration. Students who had learned the words sang along. Facebook pages and Twitter feeds flooded with messages such as "We're too big yo!" It grew from spring break boredom to one of the anthems for the team.

I was already astonished by the outpouring of support that came in the street celebration after the game. What followed early the next morning brought me chills.

Butler students received an e-mail from the university informing us the team would be arriving home from Salt Lake City late Saturday night/early Sunday morning at Hinkle Fieldhouse. The goal was to get as many students and band members who had not made the trip to Hinkle to welcome the team home.

I immediately knew, win or lose, I would be there.

Around 1:45 a.m., I put on a sweatshirt and headed out to welcome home the team that could.

I was absolutely blown away when, as the minutes passed, more and more students, faculty and community members arrived.

People from the neighborhood showed up with little kids. Our adorable, beloved bulldog, Blue II, showed up, looking a bit tired.

By 2:30 a.m., more than 3,000 people were standing in the misty rain to welcome the boys home.

Finally, around 2:45 a.m., the band led in the buses, and the first bus, carrying the team, stopped right in front of me.

Senior Nick Rodgers was the first to exit the bus, carrying the West Regional trophy.

The crowd erupted in screams. People held out their hands to try to get high fives. Cameras flashed. Video tape rolled.

With such a small campus, seeing the players around campus is a daily norm. Seeing the reaction by the entire Butler community and how the players became overnight celebrities has grown my Butler pride tremendously.

Sunday, the bookstore was flocked with patrons, all trying to get their hands on Butler gear. The bookstore has reported an increase of up to 500 percent in sales.

To see this kind of support from the community, to see how, finally, the basketball world has recognized the greatness of Butler basketball, is incredible. I'm elated the team is getting the recognition it deserves.

Emily Newell is a sophomore at Butler University, majoring in journalism. She is sports editor of the school newspaper, the Collegian.


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