Wednesday, January 23, 2008

National Anthem part 2

Current mood: happy

So I had a pretty cool experience tonight singing the National Anthem at the KSU-Akron game in Kent. For those not familiar with the rivalry between the two schools, the University of Akron and Kent State are only about 14 miles apart, so it's a very intense rivalry (sometimes referred to as a "crosstown" rivalry), not to mention a conference game. I'd say it's most intense in men's basketball, where after tonight Kent State leads the overall series just 63-60. It's intense in football too, but Kent State and Akron are hardly ever good so the game rarely has any meaning outside the bragging rights. KSU and Akron have never both been good in football at the same time. That is not true in men's basketball, where Kent State and Akron have been two of the best teams in the MAC the last several years and each meeting between the two has had conference implications. Such was the case tonight, with Akron coming in at 14-3, 4-0 in the MAC East and Kent State at 14-4, 3-1 in the MAC East. The game, naturally, was sold out and there was quite a buzz in the arena well before gametime, mostly due to the KSU students who arrived early to get good seats and the Akron students who came early and sat in the corner of the balcony.

As you can see, the students were already there well before gametime! Both end zones!

I was a little nervous about Katie, Becky, David, and Chris getting into the game, even though they already had student tickets. At every previous game, all you had to do was show your student ID and they'd give you a ticket. Tonight, due to the high demand, they were actually scanning ID's, so since none of them are currently taking classes, their ID's wouldn't get them in. Luckily I was able to talk to Chris Pinch, the guy in charge of marketing and promotions and the guy who arranges the singers. He was able to tell the ticker-taker to just let in the four people I identified. I felt so special doing that...look at me with all the connections! =) I was glad they could all come though. As much as I enjoy going to games, going by myself isn't as much fun.

Katie, Becky, David, and Chris came with me. We had a blast!

Even though it's out of focus, I thought it was still a good pic of the 3 of us.

This isn't a bad one either!

I sang about 8 minutes before the starting lineups. Kent State is different in that they have the anthem played or sung well before the starting lineups. At Lake Erie College, I sing just before the lineups are introduced. In high school I sang after the lineups. In both of those cases, I'm singing with both teams lined up on the floor. At KSU, I sing virtually alone in the middle of the court. It was something else to walk out of there and see the MAC Center full and to be in the middle like that. As for my singing, mind you, I'm a perfectionist, especially in singing, so I notice things that didn't go quite as well. Honestly, though, I felt good about how I did. It wasn't my best ever, but it was far from my worst. What a thrill when I finished to a loud applause. I think I floated off the court. I was happy to see my aunt Sue had stopped in just to see me sing, plus my Ridinger grandparents and cousin Jason were there as well. Some friends at KSU were there too. The only thing that kinda bugged me was the Akron student section started to cheer something before I was done (which I think is classless and disrespectful not only to the performer, but also to the anthem) and so the KSU student sections were trying to drown them out I think. Katie taped it all, so I need to watch it. I did hear an audio recording of it and thought it sounded pretty good.

I stood in the center of the logo when I sang, facing the flag (upper left corner of picture)

One thing that's kinda bugged me right now is I read a blog of a guy who blogs about the Akron Zips for the Akron Beacon-Journal's website I've always thought he's way biased (yes I realize he's blogging about the Zips, but he acts like they're perfect sometimes), epsecially against Kent State. Reading his blog, Akron and their fans are the class of the MAC while KSU is a rag-tag bunch of transfers and classless thugs with rude fans. I'll be the first to admit that KSU students do dumb things at games, but it's nothing unusual or widespread. This is what he said that bugged me:

"Kent State's students were really obnoxious during the national anthem. The singer missed at least three notes by my count, too."

Yes, that irritated me. I HATE it when non-music people try to critique a music performance, even as lame as his comments were. I think he was trying to be "clever," but unfortunately, he failed miserably. I did leave a comment on his blog, stating that not only did I not miss any notes, but he needs to have his hearing checked and not to comment on music unless he has a music degree. It's one thing to sit behind a computer screen and talk trash, but it's an entirely different thing to be out there in the middle of the arena singing a solo a cappella, especially a song like the Star Spangled Banner. It is not an easy song to sing. I also pointed out that Akron's students were just as obnoxious with that lame chant they tried before I was even done. It wasn't overly loud, and they weren't the only ones making noise, but nevertheless, that blogger, of course, only points out the faults of others, not Akron or their fans. I was happy to see a post from an Akron fan on that blog that basically pointed out the major bias and that as a journalist he (the blogger) should report the whole thing. Couldn't agree more. The Akron fan also said he was "embarrassed" to be an Akron fan because it seemed many of the Zips fans came just to "cause trouble." I thought the Akron fans weren't that bad, though they were annoying at times...

First half from our end zone seats after a slam by Q!

Inside the sold-out MAC Center in Kent, Ohio in the second half. Our seats can be seen in the end zone on the far left of the picture.

A view of the end zone where we were sitting. We were on the far right of the end zone. The student sections are both end zone areas.

Oh yeah, the game was AWESOME and very intense. Kent looked AWFUL in the first half and Akron couldn't miss from three-point range, so we went into the half down 35-25. The second half was a different story. Kent State slowly started chipping away and was finally able to get some inside points, while pestering the Zips into more outside shooting. Akron is a really good shooting team, so they were able to stay in it, but since they couldn't hit everything, Kent State was able to rally back and eventually win 75-69. It was very tense at the end when Akron fouled one of our players (a big guy known as "Q") and there was a shove and then a fight. Some students in the opposite end zone from us threw some trash (a few wrappers and broken balloon pieces), but it was still pretty exciting. In the end, three technicals were called: two on Akron, one on Kent. I swear, it literally took over 15 minutes for 4.6 seconds to go off the clock to end the game. Akron never game up though and they hit some big threes down the stretch to keep a faint hope alive even after it seemed Kent State had iced it. They are a very tough team. It will be quite a game when we play again March 9th in Akron. GO KENT! SCREW THE ROO!

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