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Thread: How did you get to be a GU fan/student?

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  1. #1
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    Default How did you get to be a GU fan/student?

    Just out of curiosity..I'm sure there are stories that are much more interesting than mine, and I'd love to hear some of them.

    I went to school in Sandpoint and frankly, wanted to go to a Catholic University and didn't have a better idea. I was accepted to a few east coast schools (I'm sure because I was from Idaho) but didn't want the travel time/expense...and couldn't afford it at the time. I'm the oldest of 5, my dad wasn't wild about plane tickets to Duke....thank God in heaven I didn't go there. In the end, I met my amazing wife and will cherish my days at GU to the grave. Through basketball..in a small way, they continue.

    One of my biggest regrets at GU was not taking advantage more thoroughly of the basketball/athletic programs (as a fan, obviously, the only thing I've done with a basketball is break my fingers...repeatedly...I gave it up.) In fact, while I attended some games, it was always as a student/casual/social observer...not a real fan. Only later in life did I realize what a great way it was to connect with fellow alums/local fans in Spokane and the surrounding areas. My wife and I were married by F. Tony, and that connection kept us attached to the school and the basketball program. Since then, my rabid "fanism" has grown to include my extended family, kids, and many many new friends. While y'all are anonymous, I include many of you on that list as well.

    Please...someone has to have come from further, been here for a better reason or have a better family connection to the U.

    Special note to the "old timers" at GU, what are your impressions of the U as it has grown changed and remained the same to its core values?
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  2. #2
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    I was interested in Gonzaga because a couple of friends of mine, who were older, attended.

    When my Dad found out I was interested, he was all for it and that was all I needed to here as my Dad's opinion was always golden to me. He had attended GU his freshman year, but then transferred to the U of Montana for Pharmacy school. My uncle played baseball for GU and I have several cousins that attended as well. The Weinand family (Quincy, WA), in case anybody knows any of those folks.

    Once at GU, I competed in XC and Track, so in that respect I became a Bulldog. That really didn't make me the fanatic I am today, though. I still went to the games and all, I just wasn't a nut, yet.

    I think what ultimately started to really spark my fandom is when my friend from back home was recruited to play ball for GU. Some of you might remember him, Felix McGowan. We were buddies from 5th grade through to high school and graduated together. He originally went to Montana State, but had a falling out with the coach after his first year and so he transferred to North Idaho. There he caught the eye of the GU coaching staff and was offered the schollie. Having that personal connection really got me started. Of course, it didn't hurt that that was when they started to turn the corner as a program.

    As I recall, we were in the WCC championship game at least one of the season's Felix played. He also pulled a couple of wins out of his keister for Gonzaga in WCC play with some spectacular offense.

    Anywho, there was no looking back after that and I've just been getting worse (or better, depending on perspective) ever since.

  3. #3
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    Mine is not incredibly interesting, but I like to share...

    I was a huge college basketball fan when I was in high school, but my favorite team was...Duke. The skeleton is out of the closet! Of course, I wanted to attend Duke because of its reputation, not because of the basketball program. I applied to and was accepted at Duke, but the thought of moving across the country was a little daunting to me (I am from Nampa, ID). Plus, I don't think they offered me enough in the way of scholarships, so I began to explore other options. I was looking hard at Pepperdine and even UC Berkeley, but then one day, a recruiter from Gonzaga came to my high school. I met with him and was impressed with what the school had to offer. And it was both far and close enough to my parents--far enough to do my own thing (and not be caught) yet close enough for me to go home fairly often. My school counselor was really jazzed about my interest in Gonzaga for some reason, and sent off my application without my essay. I was still accepted, I have no idea how that happened. Maybe my reputation preceded me. Ha.

    I only remember going to a handful of games in the Kennel, I was usually too distracted by other "social engagements" to attend. Only recently did I realize that Steve Nash attended Santa Clara the same years I was at GU. I had friends that played lacrosse and rugby, and I actually lived with two soccer players my freshman year, but sports where on the periphery for me at that time.

    If I remember correctly, I became the rabid GU basketball fan that I am today during the Elite 8 run in 99. I remember watching the games at work, just so excited that my little alma mater was creating such a huge stir. Now college basketball season is my favorite time of the year!

  4. #4
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    Don't have time to post my story, but I just wanted to say this is a great thread idea (esp during the offseason)
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  5. #5
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    Attended one of last summer's basketball camps. Loved the campus and atmosphere, followed the team awhile before that, but fell in lurv with the team after that. Die hard Zag fan.

  6. #6
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    I lived in Ohio and had lived there all 18 years of my life. First and foremost, I wanted a change. I had been following Gonzaga basketball avidly for a while and began to look further into the school. It had exactly what I wanted--small class sizes, good History/Poly Sci program, an involved community, no sororities/fraternities, and of course, the basketball team.

    The only problem was that my parents didn't want me to go all the way across the nation. I fought like hell to convince them all through high school to no avail. They wanted me close to home, and there wasn't anything I could seemingly do about it. Both my brother and sister went to OU and OSU respectively, and my parents wanted to keep us all close. I can't blame them for it, but sometimes a person just needs a change. Finally, I wrote them a letter. I'm not known for keeping my cool in arguments so I figured a letter would be a good way to get every single thought down. First, I put the financial information out there with Gonzaga compared to Ashland University, which was the best choice I had in Ohio. My parents had always said Gonzaga was too expensive, but low and behold, Gonzaga was cheaper than Ashland after factoring in financial aid.

    I really wish I still had the letter saved, but I don't. After the financial information, I basically went on to say how much even a visit Gonzaga would mean to me. If I didn't like it, I would commit to Ashland. I then went on to say how they don't have to be afraid of me going so far away, and mentioned all the potential positives that would impact my life if I attended Gonzaga. It was a really emotional letter of almost two pages single spaced.

    My parents said they'd think about it, which, of course, I took to mean "no." But about two weeks later, my dad sat me down and told me that he bought plane tickets to Spokane for April 27-29. I was beyond elated. He said that he was making no promises; just because I was visiting didn't mean I could necessarily attend. I agreed. On April 27th, we got to Spokane. It was about 65 degrees, a few clouds in the sky. I took this picture:

    http://photos-076.ak.facebook.com/ip...23076_9128.jpg

    As cliche or stupid as it sounds, I knew Gonzaga was the place for me as soon as I stepped on campus. It was so beautiful and all the people were amazingly nice. When I was walking, I saw so many smiles on the students' faces. I was amazed, to say the least. I tried to downplay my enthusiasm so I didn't disappoint my parents, but I knew they could tell how I felt. On the plane back to Ohio, my dad handed me a piece of paper and told me to write the positives and negatives of both Gonzaga and Ashland. All I came up with were positives for Gonzaga, and I had a few negatives for Ashland. I committed fully to Gonzaga the next day.

    Now that I'm here as a freshman, I haven't regretted a second. I love everything about Gonzaga (ok, maybe not the COG). But this place is just awesome!

  7. #7
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    MBZags! What a great story! Thanks so much for sharing.

  8. #8
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    Mine is as boring as they come... Mom works there so therefor I went to where school was free.

    But I will say that the years I spent at GU are some of the best in my life.
    "And Morrison? He did what All-Americans do. He shot daggers in the daylight and stole a win." - Steve Kelley (Seattle Times)

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  9. #9
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    I entered the Spokane diocesan minor seminary (Mater Cleri in Colbert) when I was 14; I was the only one of my graduating class of 4 that went on to the major seminary, Bishop White. Bishop White is a collaborative effort between the Spokane Diocese and Gonzaga--the seminarians pursue degrees in philosophy and fulfill their pre-theology requirements as admitted Gonzaga students. I left Bishop White mid-way through freshman year, but wanted to stay at Gonzaga, so I became a "regular student" and moved into a dorm room in Madonna, the first year it was a coed dorm.

    My experience as a fan started when I was about 5 or 6 and my dad took me to see Frank Burgess and the Zags play in the old Spokane Coliseum. I went to nearly every game when I was student; when I was a senior, I was the sports editor of the Bulletin and got to travel with the team to some of the away games, including when GU played UNLV in a tournament in Vegas--the night before we left for Las Vegas, Professor Firkins from the math department gave the team, coaches and everyone else who was interested "gambling lessons."

    ABC (coach Buoncristiani) was fired in the spring of my senior year, a decision that was not popular with local sportswriters, especially Harry Missildine. Harry bad mouthed Fitz's hire; it pissed Fitz off so the Bulletin (and I) got the exclusive first interview with the new coach.
    You have to love the Gonzaga fan. Not satisfied to be affronted merely by common hosings at the hands of ragtag referees, he plows all avenues of discontent. - John Blanchette

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  10. #10
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    Ang...such a nice tour. John Firkins was among the best math guys I've ever met. Funny, bright and diverse in his interests. Funny how those teachers looked SO old then when they were a lot younger than we are now.

  11. #11
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    Default Becoming a Zags fan

    My dad took me to see the Bulldogs and Frank Burgess play when I was very little. I just barely remember it.
    I have also lived in Spokane a couple of times during my life, and actually took a couple of courses at Gonzaga through a cooperative education program, with Eastern, Wazzu and Gonzaga, that no longer exists, called Sphere.
    I watched John Stockton play when he was in high school, but did not live in Spokane during his college days.
    I remember going to the occasional baskeball game, in the Kennel, when you could walk up, just before game time, sit almost anywhere you wanted, and pay almost nothing, for the experience. How times have changed.
    Angelo, we must be about the same age.

  12. #12
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    Default zaglawdad

    I was born in Spokane but grew up in Southern California. One day our high school basketball coach announced that he was leaving our high school to become the head coach for the Gonzaga Bulldogs. His name was Adrian Buoncristiani. I began to follow Gonzaga basketball at that point. I would have to say I actually became a fan when we moved back to Spokane in the late 70's.

  13. #13
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    Default Easy

    I got in before they were too selective. My freshman year was 98-99, the Elite Eight run... I guess that's how I became a fan.
    If I could have, I would have stayed forever. As it happens, they forced me to graduate/leave. That's when the phone calls started... asking me for money I won't have for ten or fifteen years.
    I wear a helmet while internetting.

  14. #14
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    Oh, right. I forgot about the part where my mom was working on campus, too. That was a factor, for sure.

  15. #15
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    This is from my first post on GU Boards:
    http://guboards.spokesmanreview.com/...=4936#post4936

    My mom got free tickets on a regular basis from her aerobics friend Darlene Fitzgerald... the atmosphere in Kennedy Pavillion and C. Martin Centre was no less electric back then if you ask me, but I was only 5 years old so of course it was. I loved the jazz band. I really hated Pepperdine. Personal favs were the McPhees, Jeff Condill, John Rillie, and Jaime Dudley who also coached my h.s. jv team.

    My dad ('76) was a member of the "Snake Pit." Pre-Kennel Club, I believe. He was a rabid fan, even in front of his young 'uns he was absolutely inapproprate to the refs and opposing players. He sent me to Gonzaga Prep. Went to numerous camps at GU for basketball and baseball. He was a personal friend of Steve Hertz and asked him to scout me. He argued on my behalf to the financial aid office because GU offered less than the other schools. Since I'm a chip of the ol' block, I thought it would absolutely make sense to light his fire and go to Santa Clara and make an enemy of him... that's why I'm sonuvazag. Well...

    I tried out for the basketball team and the baseball team. I made the fall team in baseball but I developed an Ankiel sort of tick throwing the ball. As if deep in my psyche, I could never truly work on behalf of the Broncos. Being at Toso as an SCU student at the 1999 WCC Championship was a little embarrassing. Since those days, I've moved back to Spokane, it just feels more natural to root for the Zags. Everyone at Santa Clara was rooting for Gonzaga in the 1999 NCAA tourney anyway.

    It's all about the fans. At SCU the students show up when ESPN is in the house. At GU, well... it's different. I wish I could say there's more to my story than basketball, but I'm afraid there's not. Even my filmmaking aspirations have led me back here. One of my goals is to make an indie film with Gonzaga in it if they let me. I've noticed a lot of people on these boards think there are some made for Hollywood storylines going on here.
    Agent provocateur

  16. #16
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    I came from an Air Force family that moved every 3 or 4 years. My grandparents always had lived in western Washington, so it was home base for vacations and holidays. I always considered myself "from Washington" although I had never lived there. When I graduated from high school my family moved overseas and wanted me to go to college as close to family as possible in a good, stable environment. The family school has been WSU for three generations, and I was at first headed there. As a senior in high school I won both Army and Air Force ROTC scholarships. Back in the day, that was a full, no-cap ride to any school with those programs. Funny how the possibility of a free Jesuit education made WSU fall a few notches. I visted GU (Army ROTC) and University of Portland (Air Force ROTC). I liked both campuses, but in the end it came down to two things: less rain/better skiing in Spokane, and I didn't want to follow my dad into the Air Force (obstinant teenager that I was).

    Thankfully fate was good to me and the decision couldn't have been better.

  17. #17
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    A longtime basketball player/coach/fan, I arrived as a law student in the early 1980s in time to watch the Stockton-Condill guard combo, soon to be followed by Fitz's return to the bench. What fun to watch; never a dull moment! The Zags have been my team ever since.

  18. #18
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    Well I was the youngest and I knew my parents would send me where ever I wanted to go- I grew up in the university district of the U of O- my parents friends were the coaches and we had them over for dinner all of the time and both the basketall court and football stadium were five minute walk from out house but I knew I would not go there- just too close and familar-

    My parents wanted me to go to Georgetown or Santa Clara- I thought about USF and Seattle U- but a very good friend of the family went to GU and she was in the very first Gonzaga in Florence class and my brother was living in Europe ( and he still is) so I was interested and that was the reason and only reason I went to GU- was in the third GIF class- best decision I ever made- Kennedy opened up my first year and did not miss any BB games( growing up in a college town always went to the college games as parents had season tickets to everything)- I tell my wife that the four years at GU were the best of my life- still have so many good friends from GU and got to attend the WCC in Portland and just so much fun seeing so many people again. Reminded me of how special GU is and the people that do there-

  19. #19
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    I came to Gonzaga as a freshman the year after the Zags made their run into the elite eight. I grew up in Spokane and had attended numerous Zag games with my family, mostly remembering the days of Dan Fitzgerald. His Hoops camps and tournaments always were a highlight for my teammates and friends. GU wasn't always first on my list of colleges as my Dad was a Cougar fan through and through, so each weekend the cougs had a home football game, I traveled to the Palouse to fairly often watch the cougs somehow 'coug it', but I loved the atmosphere and truly thought I'd be a cougar someday. My mom, who attended UW (yes this creates many a controversy in our household over sporting events...namely the Apple Cup) was all for me being a husky, but somehow I didn't end up a husky either. I played soccer in HS and knew I wanted to play in college...so that's basically where it all began. Numerous visits with coaches and to college campuses (all in the Pac NW) led me to make a decision between Gonzaga and WSU. My recruiting trip to GU somehow happened to be the night that the Zags beat Florida in the Sweet Sixteen...Wow, an experience I'll never forget...college students everywhere screaming, running, climbing trees utter chaos at it's best! In the end I felt that Gonzaga was the best choice for me and ever since I've been a die hard Zag! Ask anyone...I currently live on the East Coast and no one knows how to pronounce Gonzaga correctly...until they meet me. It's been a great ride, I miss Gonzaga and will forever be a fan!
    "gotta love gonzaga"

  20. #20
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    Default How I became a Zag fan!

    I'll give you guys the Reader's Digest version. I became a Zag fan in the late 80's when I started following John Stockton's career. I read up on Stockton and followed his career closely finding out that he attended Gonzaga University. It's because of this that I took interest in the program. At first it was just something fun to do and tell my friends that I was a Zag fan and blah, blah, blah, but after a while I became a true fan and the Elite 8 run was the highlight of my basketball fan life. It seems since then people have embraced Gonzaga basketball and I love how the program has grown. I went for years and rarely ever saw them play on television until the past 5 or 6 years where I see them on a weekly basis. (ESPN2 or FoxSportsPacific) This past year I shared my passion with my brother, who plays high school basketball, and I took him to the Gonzaga basketball camp in July. We had a blast and it was the first time I had visited Spokane. As a middle school coach the camp actually taught me some different drills I can run with my kids and it left my brother with an idea of what he needed to work on to be a successful college player. I loved the campus and I thought Spokane was a unique city with very friendly people. To top it off..... I attended my first Zag basketball game this past December in Atlanta and then my wife and I went to New York for Christmas and we attended the game against Duke. Both losses but we had a blast. I am forever a Zag fan even from this far off state in the southeast where football is king!

    P.S. I still love John Stockton!

  21. #21
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    Went to GU High School team camp during the Fitz years. Fitz came in told us how no matter how good we thought we were we weren't ****. He added a few other things, but I don't want to overuse the asterisk button. I was sold.

    Second seller, during the Jared Davis, Jeff Brown, Geoff Goss, Matt Sanford days, the Kennel Club (a fledgling organization at the time) had a group of 5 guys (who clearly were sober at each contest) would spell out Zags during one of the timeouts during the game. Best entertainment I can remember at the games those days.

  22. #22
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    Default How did you get to be a GU fan/student?

    I grew up like many here in a devout Catholic family in Yakima, WA. I always thought for some reason that I'd go to Seattle U because that's where most of the students at Marquette High School went. Marquette was an all boys high school with an enrollment of about 160 students. St. Joseph Academy, the all girls school was across the street from us. Those were the "good ol days, when the boys would venture over to the Academy to visit our girl friends during lunch. We couldn't go onto their campus so had to hold hands through the fence....it was really a trip, and as I look back really, really funny.

    Anyway, I always knew that if I was going to go to Seattle U that I'd have to some how get a scholarship, so I worked hard all my life to try to get one. I had a number of offers to Universities around the PNW and was just unsure of what to do. I was Catholic through and through so I knew it'd have to be a Catholic University. My first visit to a University campus was to Gonzaga, and it blew me away. Coming from a small town like Yakima, and going to a small all boys high school, and almost never getting outside of Yakima because of my socio-economical background, made me a very nieve person with very narrow perception. I could never have even imagined going to school outside of the state of Washington. Spokane seemed a million miles away to me.

    We didn't even have a gym at Marquette. We had to rent the gym in the Yakima armory. And believe me...it was a dump. So when I first saw Kennedy Pavilion I was like completely sold. I thought Kennedy was the most beautiful gym I had ever seen, and it had a swimming pool attached, and that really impressed me. I was simply awestruck. I believe the facility was brand new and it looked like it to me. I was really impressed. I look back at those days, and I really laugh because I thought the Gonzaga Campus was huge. And I thought going to school with 2,500 students was about all I could take. I was totally impressed by the fact that Bing Crosby had been a student there (even it was only for a year).

    After meeting one of the coaches, Bud Presely, I got so fired up I was ready to run down stairs and suit up on the spot and play...Presely was definately the most passionate guy about basketball and especially defense that I had ever met. I was immediately sold on GU. Rich Juarez was an assistant coach from Wapato Washington (just outside of Yakima) so I thought that was really kool.

    I haven't seen much talk about it here on GU Boards, but my Freshman year (1966/67) GU had one of the better Zag teams in the history of the school. The Zags finished 20th nationally and unfortunately back in those days only 16 teams went to the national tournament. The All American player was a guy named Gary Lechman who played center at about 6'6", and was unstoppable. Other players I remember were Frank Thomas and Larry Brown at the forwards, and Paz Rocha was the guard. I think John Daughterty (his son played for Santa Clara this year) and Mike McGinley shared the other guard spot. Believe me. The kennel rocked in those days. The gym was filled to the rafters every home game. The thing I will never forget about those games were the wooden blocks. The whole student body would bring wooden blocks to clap with, and did they EVER make a lot of noise. It was just too darn kool for this small town kid from Yakima. I was always just so in awe about Gonzaga and all those people at the games, and HOW GOOD THE ZAGS Were. I just couldn't believe how Kool it was to be at a college game. And it was everything I had ever dreamt it would be when I was a young boy growing up.

    These were different years in our GU history too. Madonna Hall became co-ed. The girls were burning their bra's, and the guys burning their draft cards. Masses moved from the church into the homes of college professors. The nuns were taking their habits off (oh my God), and both nuns and priests were leaving their religious orders in masses in order to marry. Church goers could now hold the host and drink the wine. Guitars began showing up in Church masses. Basketball stars became poets of protest and anger and quit the team in order to protest against an evil and corrupt part of our great country. It was indeed a different time at GU. And for all of us who shared these special GU memories together, we are forever bound by a very very special time in history.

    1999 was such a special year for all of GU. We became a national hit, and I was taken away with it all like so many of you. The players seemed to have that same sense of wonder and innocense that I think I once had. I loved watching Santangelo and Frahm on ESPN. They were like two nuts...just so nieve about it all, and I think that's what the country loved. And still does. There is a place in us all for that kind of innocense and romance. I also loved all the live news shots of the campus, and seeing all those nutty GU students hanging upside down in the trees and just going bazerk. Soccer14js gives a great description of it. Those images will stay with me forever.

  23. #23
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    well, not much of a story but my family has been involved at GU for a long time. My grandparents were good friends with Jack Stockton and his wife ( who's name is slipping from memory this early in the morn) My dad and all his brothers (4 of them) went to GU along with 3 of their wifes. My father was on the head of the council for the move to get COED dorms at GU. My dad's little brother grew up best friends with John Stockton they used to ride their big wheels around my grandma's house and my dad used to babysit them. My uncle did radio for the zags while he was there. Anyway's basically out of about 20 people in my extended family on my dad's side only 2 did not attend GU, myself (UW) and my sister (WSU). We did both grow up as GU fans and have been attending lots of GU events/games etc... for most of our lifes. Anyway's that's the rhyme and reason why i'm a Zag fan.

  24. #24
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    Well, a Massachusetts native born and bred from the city of Worcester... (pronounced "Wisstah", locally). Attended College of the Holy Cross along with most family members. Season ticket holder at HC for many years in late '70s, early 80s (when HC had a great PG: Ronny Perry). Moved to Seattle area 10 years ago and knew of GU. HC has a big statue of St. Al in the rotunda on campus. Now, I have two daughters attending Gonzaga, with my oldest graduating next Sunday. They enjoy everything about GU... My girls have cousins that attend BC and UConn today. So, we are all very excited about GU playing in Boston this Dec. Should make for a great reunion for all.

  25. #25
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    I've always had a bit of wanderlust in my soul and couldn't wait to get away from Spokane and see some of the world.

    I taught English in American schools in Japan and Germany for seven years, but I never felt that I had a deep enough background in my field, so when I returned from teaching overseas, I went to Gonzaga to earn my masters. My family lives here, so GU was an obvious choice. I loved my time at Gonzaga, but I took a job in California when I finished there. I didn't have much interest in basketball until I retired from teaching and returned to Spokane in '96. I went with other alumni to a game and I was hooked.

    I thought it was great when I was in Rothenburg, Germany, a couple of years after the Elite 8 run. We were talking to a gentleman from North Carolina, and when we told him were from Spokane, he told us that he followed the Zags faithfully.

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