Sports are special.

A lot of times, the heart of sports isn't on the forefront. It's all about recruiting stars and wins and losses. The fans are often the forgotten masses in the history of the game. Sometimes, though, the heart shines through.

Credit to Coach Chris Beard, because at Texas Tech, he not only allows that to happen, he encourages it.

Coach Beard strives for his program to be about people, which in turn makes people strive to root for his program. It's a special connection that has been brewing in Lubbock this basketball season, and culminated over the weekend with Texas Tech men's basketball reaching the Final Four for the first tine, and the City of Lubbock responding in kind.

As I was perusing Facebook soaking in the weekend, I found a letter I wanted to share from a Red Raider named Ashley. You can find her original post at the bottom of the article, but here is her open letter to Chris Beard that caught my eye and got me thinking about how special sports can be. Especially when we realize that it isn't just about us.

An open letter for Coach Beard and Red Raider Basketball:

 

Wow! Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Texas Tech is my heart. It’s where I met my husband, it’s where I found my closest friends, and it’s where I received my education which would dictate my future. I’ve always had so much pride in being a Red Raider!

 

Six years ago, my husband and I moved right outside of College Station and one hour from Austin. To say we are outnumbered by maroon and burnt orange would be an understatement. Red Raiders around here are few and far between. My son, who is now 11, just may be the biggest Tech fan around, still sporting his red and black proudly. He’s heard it all from his peers at school- how Tech is a joke, how no one would ever want to live in Lubbock, how Texas Tech just wishes they could be the caliber of A&M or Texas....but blood runs thick and that boy is loyal to his Mom and Dad’s alma mater!

 

It’s always been fun to root for our Red Raiders. We’ve seen the highs, and we’ve seen the lows. My husband and I sat at the Tech vs. Texas game where Crabtree caught the infamous pass to take the win over the #1 ranked Longhorns, and up to this point, I believed that would be the best moment as a Red Raider. Last night, I learned that I was wrong.

 

As we sat at my cousin’s wedding in Waco, Texas, with the game streaming on our phones, we watched. Our hearts began to race as the game came down to its final minutes. Back and forth, back and forth. My cousin, his new bride and all their friends who went to Baylor, were coming by and checking the score, cheering on their fellow Big 12 team. It was great! My son watched intently, even starting to sweat as the clock kept counting down. And then....we won! We had chills. We had lumps in our throats. We had our Texas Tech Pride flowing through our veins. I even received congratulatory texts from some friends- Aggies, Longhorns, outsiders- congratulating me and my team (as if I had anything to do with the victory). It was an awesome moment- seeing fellow Texans supporting our “underdog” team and Texas Tech naysayers giving y’all the respect you deserve.

 

So why? Why was this moment my new favorite as a Red Raider? I thought about that on the my drive home today as my son was watching the post-game press conference from last night and locker room dancing videos, and it hit me- I think it’s because I’m seeing these accomplishments and these moments through the eyes of my 11 year old. All my son wanted for his March 19 birthday was to see Tech basketball play, so we took him to the Tech-Baylor game in Waco...in January! And we lost. It didn’t matter though, not to him, because he still got to see “his guys” play. Oh, and he claims that Odiase even looked at him during pre-game warmup 😉

 

He talks about them by their first names, as if he’s personal friends with them. He can tell you where they’re from, personal stats, etc. He loves that Culver was on his way to church listening to gospel music when he learned he was Big 12 player of the year. He loves that Odiase was able to come back and play with all his heart after the loss of two close family members. He loves watching the videos of both Brandone Frances and Davide Moretti’s surprise visits from family. You can tell when you watch this team that Coach Beard has truly made this team a family- a family that even an 11-year-old boy in Caldwell, Texas, feels like he’s a part of.

 

So thank you! Thank you Coach Beard for teaching this team and its fans about selflessness. Thank you for constantly preaching about being humble and having class. Thank you for allowing my child to see you yell in one of your player’s faces during a game and then shed tears when celebrating and hugging that same player after the clock runs out. Thank you for emphasizing hard work and being a “grinder” so that my child sees what success truly takes. Thank you for loving Lubbock, loving Texas Tech and for bringing our school so much joy and pride through your program. We are Texas Tech! We are going to the Final Four!

 

Sincerely,

 

A Forever Red Raider

Well said, and Wreck 'Em.