At winter’s end, a desire for more/The Red Line
When the winter sports season came to an end last year, it was immediately succeeded by a bizarre heat wave. It melted the snow right away, and even if there were some blustery days between then and summer, I, for one was pretty satisfied with how everything wrapped up.
This year, the winter sports season all but ended over the weekend with the elimination of Michigan Tech’s basketball and hockey teams. And then, one more snowstorm.
It doesn’t feel like the end of the winter and yet, waiting-for-snow-to-melt season has begun. It leaves one with an appetite for more.
In that same vein, I’m not quite ready for a couple of Husky basketball careers to be over.
2009 was the first summer in which we did “Tech Tomorrow” profiles on basketball players.
It didn’t take long for me to find Sam Hoyt’s from June 9, 2009.
“I really do like that they’re a winning team and that they win the conference a lot,” Hoyt said. “Because I hate to lose.”
And now we know how much.
As rare as athletes of her talent and accomplishment are, what stands out most to me about Sam’s career is how doubly rare it is for excellence to follow excellence. Steve Young followed Joe Montana. Aaron Rodgers followed a quarterback Who Shall Not Be Named, but otherwise, most Vince Lombardis are followed by Phil Bengtsons.
Sam Hoyt is a worthy heir to the point guard legacy left by Sarah Stream. And maybe in 10 or 20 years, we’ll all realize how amazing it is to have that continuity.
It would be tribute enough to list Hoyt’s on-court accomplishments, but having had the privilege to get to know her a little off the court, just counting stats is a weak reflection of her impact on Tech’s program and the community at large.
Sam’s small and quiet and a dead-eye shooter. Ali Haidar is something completely different and yet very much the same.
In a couple times I ran into coach Kevin Luke before and in the early stretches of Haidar’s first season at Tech, I remember Luke talking about Haidar a lot. Luker’s been around for a while and experience tends to moderate excitement, but Haidar delivered on his predictions and then some.
I remember trying to start a one-man effort to give Ali the nickname “The Big Cedar” in honor of a national symbol of his native Lebanon.
But with a personality like his, just sticking with “Ali” makes more than enough sense.
Ali’s yelling at himself after missing a free throw. Ali just scored on three guys. Ali just gave coach Luke a hug in the middle of the game. Ali had how many rebounds?
It’s the kind of story that doesn’t come along very often. It’s the kind of talent that comes along even less often.
The calendar will turn over soon enough. We’ll trade shovels for sunscreen, hockey games for track meets.
But give me some time, OK. I’m not quite ready to leave some of these stories behind.
Brandon Veale can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/redveale.