Today I had the honor to participate in a local memorial event to recognize 9/11/2001. This was the fifth year for the event in which participants climb 2,071 stairs within Nippert Statium at The University of Cincinnati. This number symbolizes the stairs of the 110 floors each of the World Trade Center towers had. The amount of time to complete the event is 56 minutes. This was my first time attending the event and I must say, I was awestruck.
The number of people that attended the event was amazing. The event started at 6:34 this morning, I arrived around 5:30 and met with a local group that were going to ruck the stairs rather than simply running / walking. We each carried a pack, ruck sack, with us with a 30 lb weight plate. The goal was to complete the 4 laps that the event required.
As I was going through the repetitions up and down the stairs, they were making announcements of the events that transpired on that day in history, and the names of those that lost their lives scrolled across an electronic screen I began to recount where I was on that day. I was actually on that exact campus just a few hundred yards away. I walked right through that stadium on 9/11 to go to class.
The stairs began to wear on me quickly and I was only halfway through my first lap. Then I saw a group of young ROTC students with Xavier University’s Air Force ROTC program. That picked my hopes up for a bit and I went on. The harder it got for me the more details I remembered about that day. The more flights I did the more I thought about those that lost their lives, seeing the names I began to take a step for each one just to push on to the next. At the end of the time I did not complete the 4 laps needed to commemorate the total number of stairs. I did complete two full laps of stairs knowing that after that event was done I still get to go home and hug my family.
This day is always going to be a day of remembrance in my family. Today, I was lucky enough to commemorate it among some amazing veterans, active duty, and future military and first responders.
This week begins my favorite time of year – college basketball madness!
Like many of us around the country, my fan loyalty resides with a relatively small, local college that has seen a lot of program growth in recent years – Xavier University. For example, during the 2003-2004 season, the team was ranked preseason top 11 in the country but stumbled along the way and found themselves at 10-8 with a pivotal game against their in state, conference rival. They ended up losing the game and the players held a “team only” meeting afterwards so the seniors could, let’s just say, “focus” the team on their goals. Whatever was said in that locker room worked, as the team went on to finish the regular season with a 9-1 record and win 4 conference tourney games in 4 days (first team to ever tackle this feat) to capture the automatic bid to the national field of 64, where they eventually lost by only 3 points in their first ever Elite 8, to a certain team from Durham, NC. (It was the REFS fault and no I’m not bitter LOL).
In 2008 the team was facing a similar challenge as they had lost several close games and were now again faced with needing to win 4 games in 4 days to get the automatic conference title bid. They went on to secure the bid and were able to reach the Elite 8 again for the 2nd time in 4 years but their run ended with a loss to the #1 seed in the region. The school has now joined a larger conference which is great for national notoriety and recruiting but also brings a higher level in competition, either boosting or damaging their tournament resume.
This year has followed suit to previous years as the team didn’t perform up to expectations and spent much of the latter part of the regular season on the proverbial “bubble”. After each win or loss, the prognosticators would move them from a “lock” to the “bubble”, or even more confusing, “still has work to do” category. All that mattered was just win and let the rest take care of itself. The team did just that as they went on to make the finals of the conference tournament but were easily handled by the first place team and eventually lost.
The selection committee has rewarded their conference affiliation along with conference tournament success and ranked them as a 6 seed for this years national championship tournament (a little high in my opinion but I’ll take it!) playing the winner of one of the play-in games.
Who knows what tournament success or failure lies ahead but that is what makes this time of year so awesome. Even when my team loses, there is always a local team, an underdog or the year’s “Cinderella” that grasps the country’s attention and makes it hard to root against them. Since we are in Cincinnati, many of our folks live in Kentucky and the Wildcats prove their wide reach among many of our Ohio based people as well. It makes the office banter and challenges and trash talk more interesting when pitting the hopes of a small “bubble” team up against a behemoth like Kentucky. We would be remiss not to mention the other behemoth with a huge fan base in this neck of the woods, Ohio State. We cannot forget our loyal base of University of Cincinnati Bearcats, who have provided us with some stellar employees, though not much of a basketball team this year (I’m a Xavier fan, remember?). And with the late breaking news from last night’s winning Dayton Flyer team, we have some solid regional representation in the tourney year.
Wow, now that I think about it, we’ll be lucky to survive the next few weeks without a bit of office bloodshed. At the very least, a small skirmish is certain to happen ;-).
Here at EXAIR we have a great team too! From the production team all the way up to management, we understand that we need to remain focused on our main goal – to satisfy YOU, our customer! We are always striving to get better by developing new products, testing existing products or maintaining near perfect (99.9%) on-time shipments.