First of all, I’d like to say that I’m thankful that covering UCSB sports is my job, so that I can get paid for all the stuff that I’d do anyway. On that note, I’m quite thankful I’ve been able to attend each and every men’s soccer playoff game since I started my tenure here way back in 2004. The memories of those games will be with me until I die, and I know I’ll be on my deathbed telling my grandkids about those fabulous times.
Something I’ll remember most about Gaucho athletics are all the standout characters that have come and gone. I’m thankful for being lucky enough to see Chidi Ajufo pretend to be an absolute thug to all kinds of intimidated girls, only for him to be completely kidding since he’s one of the nicest guys around. The “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, oye, oye, oye” chants every time Tom Garlepp stepped on the court are equally memorable, and I’ll never forget the amazing names of the baseball players who have played the last couple of years.
I’m thankful for being able to see Kristen Mann in her final season as a Gaucho, since she is probably the most dominant UCSB athlete I’ve seen since I’ve been here. Seeing the women’s basketball team play in the NCAA Tournament is up there with the best moments of my life. And, of course, I’m thankful to be a Gaucho during one of our school’s two national championships, even though the NCAA tried to kill me after the soccer title with a poisoned sandwich.
Believe it or not, I’m also quite thankful for several things outside of UCSB athletics, but this is not really the place for that. In a few days, I’ll be thankful for all the pumpkin pie I get to bring home because most of my family hates my favorite dessert.
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If there were Alcoholics Anonymous-type meetings for sports fans, I’m pretty sure the opening line of my little speech would go something like this: “My name is Alex and I’m a Bay Area sports fan. I have nothing to be thankful for as all of my local teams suck. Now would someone please direct me to the Alcoholics Anonymous meeting because I desperately need a drinking buddy.” Sadly, as a NorCal native, I have very little to be thankful for when it comes to sports. All of my favorite boyhood teams suck, so at this point, my pro sports life is pretty much just a countdown to the next Tim Lincecum start.
Luckily, as ABC once taught us, there’s a whole wide world of sports out there, which provides plenty to be thankful for if you’re a famous sports editor at a great sports school, like myself. With Thanksgiving upon us, I can’t help but remind myself that I’m thankful for UCSB soccer, the Harder Stadium press box, the fans, and the fact that I occasionally get to write a headline like “Bend It Like Ciaran” or “Record Crowd Watches UCSB Dominate Cal Poly.” While I’m at it, any sports editor worth his salt would be immensely thankful for Al Harris’ 23 points per game, Nedim Pajevic’s mustache, Milos Golic’s occasional blowups, Mark French’s quotes and plenty of pictures of women’s volleyball players to plaster all over the sports page as often as we can.
Seeing as how this is being written on a Tuesday night and there’s a men’s basketball game in an hour, I would be remiss in forgetting to mention that I’m forever thankful for press-room pizza as well. Keep up the good work, Giovanni’s. Without you, I would probably starve on most game days.
Daily Nexus sports editor Alex Pavlovic is also thankful for the fact that his fantasy baseball team – the aptly named “I’ve Got A Harden” – won a championship even though Rich Harden died again.