Conley: Extending Christmas to March

Dec. 20, 2012 @ 10:33 AM

Christmas is just five days away and even though I just recently celebrated my first 29th birthday, I can’t help but get excited.

There is just something about this season that melts about two decades away, and turns me into the kid who shakes the presents under the tree every time new ones are added. Every Christmas it seems I’m the one who wakes everybody up at 5:15 a.m. and I don’t expect this year to be any different.

The reason for my excitement has changed, however. When I was younger, I could barely wait for Christmas because of what I was getting. Now I can’t help but smile at the thought of what I’m giving.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love to get gifts and lots of them. That’s why my motto is, “It is blessed to give and receive”, but I must admit it gives me much greater pleasure to give the perfect gift than to get the perfect gift.

Some gifts work both ways. They bring just as much joy to the giver as the receiver. There is one such gift that has been at the top of my list for a long time and this year it looks like I might finally get it.

My wish this Christmas is to go dancing. No this dance is not the mash potato, the twist, or even the funky chicken. You see, I have an obvious condition that keeps me from ever stepping on that dance floor. I’m white.

This dance has a basketball instead of a disco ball, high tops replace platform shoes,

See Conley/Page B2

and One Shining Moment is what everyone longs to hear, not Gangnam Style. It’s none other than the NCAA Tournament, The Big Dance. The Gardner-Webb Bulldogs are well on their way to earning an invitation.

In their first Bracketology of the season, ESPN predicts that Gardner-Webb will enter the Dance as a 16 seed in the Lexington Kentucky Regional and do battle with the Florida Gators. GWU has had success in the Bluegrass State before, knocking of Kentucky in 2007.

Gardner-Webb has also already beaten a power conference team in DePaul this season and these factors bode well for the Bulldogs. I’ll admit, it’s a long way until March, but with each passing day my anticipation grows. Dare I say it? I’m like a kid waiting for Christmas. I have visions of first round upsets dancing in my head.

What a gift a tournament appearance would be and not just for the players on the floor.  

For me, covering a tournament game would be a high point in my journalistic career. I can just see it now, Jacob Conley sitting on the same press row with the giants of the sports writing world. I might even bump into Bill Raftery and get him to say, “Send it in Jerome.”

If I don’t get to cover the game, that’s fine too.

I’ll watch from the stands, taking it all in with the wide-eyed wonder of a child who wakes up on Christmas morning to find snow on the ground and presents under the tree. Some of you may consider these sentiments nothing more than fantasies on par with a jolly old elf sliding down the chimney. After all, Gardner-Webb hasn’t even opened conference play yet and so many things can go wrong between now and March Madness.

But, I say this is the season when we should all be filled with big dreams and the faith that anything is possible. That’s what Christmas is about. So I challenge you to give yourself the gift of seeing Christmas though a child’s eyes. Let’s all go to sleep on Christmas Eve dreaming those long forgotten, impossible dreams and have faith that they will come true.

Some dreams or gifts may come on Christmas morning and that’s great. I’m perfectly content to unwrap mine in March.

Merry Christmas everybody.