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Finally, redemption

Finally, it has come. Justification. A reason for returning home to the heartland. Just when I was thinking my childhood had no point whatsoever, the heavens shine down upon me with a magnificent karma refund. The stars and Martians and whatever else the heavens consist of collided in a fiery culmination this past weekend when the West Virginia Mountaineers reached the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament.

Never mind that they lost. Never mind that they were leading by 20 at one point in the game. Never mind that repetition as a literary technique is probably useless. For a brief, exhilarating period, West Virginia was an explosive wonder of basketball brilliance at a time when the nation could have been thinking about dying, comatose people or Condoleezza Rice. And for the state of West Virginia, and for me, it meant so much more.

Here I was thinking I lived in West Virginia for 18 years so I could be ridiculed constantly for the rest of my life. Little did I know, in addition to that sweet asset, it was also meant to estrange me from victory or even accomplishment so absolutely that when triumph ultimately arrived, it would be that much sweeter. You may be asking how I can measure a real accomplishment in terms of a basketball game. You’re probably a girl. More to the point, you haven’t lived in West Virginia.

Don’t act like you are aware of what is easily the most easily-forgotten member of the union. Other states have original names and those with cardinal directions in them at least have counterparts like North and South Carolina. There is no East Virginia. Everyone forgot it. Iowans and Wyoming-ans cannot contest; they have multiple tournament-quality NCAA teams and Dick Cheney, respectively.

The Mountain state may not be the dumbest or the fattest, but we’re averaging double-doubles in both categories. Our tradition of obesity is based on a solid foundation of inactivity, which can’t be blamed on the people because no one, not even the governor, Bob Wise, has anything to do. That’s why he spends his time publicly outcrying against Abercrombie and Fitch for making funny mountaineer-insulting T-shirts. Have a sense of humor, Bob; God did when he made West Virginia.

All that recedes back into the holler though, when the Mountaineer basketball team soars into the Elite Eight, thrashing some of the best teams in the nation and almost defeating the ever-resilient Louisville. You see, there are no professional teams for any national league in West Virginia, and I must have been sleeping when everyone got addicted to Nascar. The whole state, every last coal miner, sat in awe watching its sole heartbeat best Texas Tech after Wake Forest after Villanova after Boston College. I could have mentioned Creighton, but I didn’t. Led by the native “6-foot-11 sharpshooter” Kevin Pittsnogle (his tattoos portrayed 150 years of ignorance), they showed the nation that the Mountain state had something to say. Something incoherent and mostly consisting of three-pointers, but almost a complete sentence nonetheless. We are breathless. We are without breath.

To close, I’d like to quote Bob Denver’s pseudo-famous West Virginia ode “Country Roads”.

West Virginia, Mountain momma, Take me home, Country roads.

That is one example of a dumb, overquoted song. I speak personally when I say the state does not thank Bob Denver for that song. But don’t mistake my sordid fact-observing for a complete lack of pride in my home state. I mean, we have Jennifer Garner! Jokes aside, I may not have as much pride as the WVU mascot, but enough to be happy I’m not a New Yorker or a Texan. Sure you have subways and NBA basketball teams, but what about souls? The important fact here is that I’ve said the phrase “West Virginia” 10 times to embed it in your memory. The WVU Mountaineers put us on the map with their redick-ulous three point shooting. Literally. Mapmakers are writing the state in on national maps as I speak where previously there was only remote tundra. Now you will recognize when we come thundering back next year, after a one-year hiatus as a relative nonentity.

Ashwin Bhirud is a Trinity sophomore. His column appears every other Wednesday.

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