Introducing Myself, Writer and Founder of The College Basketball Nostalgic
Sunday, August 14, 2016
Background: My name is Chris Maynard, and I would like to introduce myself as the founder of The College Basketball Nostalgic. Born and raised in Chicago during the eighties, I grew up a huge fan of basketball, particularly the NBA, due to Michael Jeffrey Jordan. As Jordan and the Chicago Bulls won the first of its sixth titles by the end of third grade, I ditched my baseball glove and bat and became an avid basketball player and observer. Like many Chicago boys at the time, I lived and died with the Bulls, which, unfortunately, hasn’t been the case for almost 10 years.
Throughout the early to mid-nineties, I paid some attention to college basketball and was yet to be enthralled by the spectacle that is the NCAA Tournament. While I would watch the Final Four and root for teams like Duke and Michigan’s Fab Five, I was not as observant of the tournament as a whole. Essentially, my college basketball fandom was limited locally to the De Paul Blue Demons. With Chicago a pro sports town, De Paul solely generated my interest because of a player named Tommy Kleinschmidt, whom my uncle would take to see play on Friday nights. A McDonald’s All-American the same year as future Michigan Fab Five players Chris Webber and Juwan Howard, Kleinschmidt starred at Chicago’s Gordon Tech High School (he is now the head coach at the same school, the renamed De Paul College Prep) and was the best player whom I had ever seen up close at the time. While Kleinschmidt would have a great career at De Paul, his Blue Demon teams were not that strong, making the NCAA Tournament just once during his freshman year.
By the time Kleinschmidt graduated in 1995, Jordan was on the verge of returning to the NBA, and college basketball once again went to the backburner, that is, until the NCAA Tournament, when I would be introduced to brackets and other pools. It was not until 1997, my freshman year in high school, when the seeds of college basketball supplanting the NBA started to take shape for several reasons. First, it was clear in Chicago that the Bulls were nearing the end of its run, though the team would win titles in 1997 and 1998. Second, as a freshman high school player who still thought that he would play in the NBA, I naturally began to focus on the next level, college basketball. Third, while watching the 1997 NCAA Tournament, I realized through the inspirational Arizona Wildcats team how unpredictable March Madness could be as opposed to the rather prescriptive outcomes of the NBA playoffs.
By my sophomore year of high school, I had a favorite college basketball team in Arizona (you could call me bandwagon and would have been right, though I rooted for the Cats up until the end of the Lute Olsen era). As the Bulls dynasty (and my high school basketball career) came to an end in 1998, my love of the game only intensified. Whereas the game had not been fun for a few years, I played as much pickup as possible, and felt free on the court. As a young player, I always felt that I had an innate feel and understanding of the game, which extended to my observations of televised games. Additionally, I began to watch even more college basketball. By my junior year of high school, I was recording games like crazy. The 1999 NCAA Tournament was the first tourney that I recorded in its entirety, or at least, in terms of the games shown in Chicago. I have recorded every tournament since.
With the Bulls terrible my final two years in high school and local teams like DePaul and Illinois promising for different reasons, thanks to Blue Demon recruiting and the steadiness of Illinois head coach Lon Kruger, I focused most of my attention on college basketball. After high school, I would actually attend the University of Illinois, not only because it was a great school but on the verge of being really great at basketball. That would prove to be true as the Illini would reach the Elite Eight my freshman year and then the national championship game the semester after I graduated.
Now in my mid-thirties, my love of sports is no longer as strong; however, my appreciation of the NCAA Tournament remains. While I do not watch as much regular-season college basketball as I used to, in large part due to the Illini being in a funk for years, I continued to watch each NCAA Tournament with great excitement and interest.
Education and Professional Background: At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, I was not sure what I wanted to do as a professional. I vaguely held onto the notion of becoming a sports journalist, and graduated with a broadcast journalism degree. However, by the end of my undergraduate experience, I began thinking of transitioning into education to work with children. Yet, at the time, I wanted to graduate and try to use my journalism degree.
After graduation, I randomly moved to Raleigh, North Carolina, and landed a freelancing job covering the Durham Bulls for two summers. While appreciating the experience, I realized that I did not want to a traditional sports journalist in the locker room on a beat. At the very least, while living in ACC country, I did get a first-hand understanding of how fanatical Duke, North Carolina and especially North Carolina State basketball fans are.
After almost two years in beautiful North Carolina, I moved back to Chicago and worked unhappily as a writer in the business world. Following those unfulfilling experiences, I made the decision to follow my heart and go to graduate school to become a teacher (the best decision I ever made). In 2012, I graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a Master’s degree in Elementary Education. Since then, I have been a fifth- and sixth-grade teacher, a profession that I absolutely love despite its many challenges.
The Motivation for The College Basketball Nostalgic: As I prepare for my fifth year of teaching, and am feeling more comfortable with my ability in the profession, I have had an itch to start writing again, specifically about something that I am passionate about, college basketball. I have always enjoyed the freedom of writing on the Internet, especially through blogging. In the past I ran my own pro basketball blog called Hoops4theSoul, which I now wish I kept active. Prior to graduate school, I launched an Illinois Fighting Illini blog called Writing Illini through the FanSided network. As I began teaching, making (and learning from) my many mistakes, maintaining Writing Illini was no longer feasible. Nonetheless, here is one extensive example of my Writing Illini work, specifically from my “Tale of the Tape” series.
While I understand teaching is my top priority, I want to strike a greater personal balance and do not want to neglect my writing skills any longer. I am excited to launch The College Basketball Nostalgic, even if it may not be the most search-engine friendly name, and provide a worthwhile read of a subject, the NCAA Tournament, that I am well-versed and heavily invested. I am confident that the site will be an engaging and creative read for not only die-hard but casual college basketball fans, due to the personal touches that I plan to bring to my entries.
To me, there is nothing more exciting in sports than the beginning of the NCAA Tournament. For three weeks, I basically shut down, with the exception of school, and focus my free time on the tourney. What better way to capture the excitement and possibility that comes with this special month for college basketball than writing about it all-year long!
Personal: I continue to live in Chicago, Illinois. When I am not teaching, I still enjoy playing basketball. I am a proud uncle of an awesome nephew and beautiful niece, and an owner of a goofy yet lovable greyhound named Garrett. At some point in my life, I would like to write either a sports or children's book, and learn an instrument (piano or guitar).
With that said, thanks for taking the time to get to know me, and I look forward to connecting with and getting to know my future readers.
Sincerely, Chris Maynard firstname.lastname@example.org
As an icebreaker, here are some vital statistics about my college basketball fandom.
All-Time Favorite College Basketball Team: 2004-2005 Illinois Fighting Illini
Most-Talented College Basketball Team Not to Win Championship: 1998-1999 Duke Blue Devils
Fandom-Changing College Basketball Team: 1996-1997 Arizona Wildcats
Fandom-Changing College Basketball Player: Mike Bibby, Arizona, 1996-1998
Favorite College Basketball Programs (not Illinois or Arizona): Marquette; Michigan State
Current College Basketball Program That I Secretly Root For: Kansas State Wildcats
Favorite College Basketball Teams (outside of Illinois or Arizona): 2004-2005 West Virginia Mountaineers; 1999-2000 Michigan State Spartans
Favorite Local College Basketball Player as a Child: Tommy Kleinschmidt, De Paul (1991-1995)
Favorite National College Basketball Player as a Child: Bobby Hurley, Duke (1989-1993)
All-Time Favorite Illinois Basketball Player: Roger Powell, Jr. (2001-2005)
Favorite Fundamental College Basketball Player: Mike Gansey, West Virginia, 2004-2006 (see 21:03)
Favorite College Basketball Coach: John Beilein, Michigan
Favorite Illinois NCAA Tournament Game: 2005 National Semifinal against Louisville
Most Memorable NCAA Tournament Game as a Child: 1992 Regional Final, Duke vs. Kentucky
Favorite Final Four as a Child: 1993 Final Four (North Carolina, Michigan, Kansas and Kentucky)
Favorite NCAA Tournament Runs(outside of Illinois): 2005 West Virginia, 2011 VCU, 1999 Gonzaga
Favorite NCAA Tournament One-Hit Wonder: Harold Arceneaux, Weber State, 1999
Favorite NCAA Tournament Venue: RCA Dome in Indianapolis, Indiana
Favorite NCAA Tournament Announcing Team: Sean McDonough (or Verne Lundquist) with Bill Raftery