Thursday, December 13, 2007

Two insane Davidson fans (not that there's anything wrong with that)

Basketball Is All They Need
By Josh Herwitt - December 12, 2007

One of the best things about working in this business is getting to meet some of the people that I used to look up to when I would wake up before school and open up the newspaper at the breakfast table each morning.

And as I'm quickly learning more and more everyday, your colleagues, even the ones that you don't directly work with, can often be a nice resource to have from time to time.

Sometimes, though, a story just falls in your lap. For me, it came in my Inbox one day last week from Michael Kruse of the St. Petersburg Times, a kind gesture from a colleague that I have never met, yet was nice of to think of me in offering up a story that hit home with me and hopefully does the same for you as well.

It's a story about Bro Krift and Tripp Cherry, two former Davidson students from the Class of 1999 who weren't just loyal fans of their beloved Wildcats. They were, at least to some, Davidson basketball fanatics.

But this isn't a story just about Bro and Tripp or even a story about Davidson basketball. It's a story, rather, about two friends, and even more, two fans.

Two fans willing to do anything to watch their team miles away from home, even if it meant spending nights in Econo Lodges and parking lots, dinners at McDonald's and Taco Bell and 25 hours driving just to watch 40 minutes of basketball.

It all started back in 1997 when the two were sophomores at the North Carolina private liberal arts college. Bro, who had always loved sports growing up as a youngster, managed to score two tickets to Davidson's game against third-ranked Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

And though the Wildcats would ultimately suffer a 100-65 blowout loss to the Blue Devils that night, it was there in Durham that their love for Davidson basketball blossomed, as the two spent their remaining college years attending game after game all over the Southeast of the country.

But when it finally came time to graduate, Bro and Tripp weren't ready to end their season-after-season basketball run that had defined so much of their college experience.

So when Davidson earned a bid to the 2002 NCAA Tournament and headed to Albuquerque for its first-round game against fourth-seeded Ohio State, Bro and Tripp were there.

And when the Wildcats returned to the Big Dance in 2006 with a game against none other than No. 2 seed Ohio State in the Dayton Regional, Bro and Tripp were once again there.

And this past summer when sophomore sensation Stephen Curry made the trip to Dallas, Texas, to play in the U19 U.S. national team's exhibition games, so did Bro and Tripp.

For many of us, keeping up with close friends from college is not always easy. Work, family and other life-long obligations often leave us never enough time to stay in touch with the friends we made during our four years away from Mom and Dad.

But for Bro and Tripp, Davidson basketball has been the glue that's held their friendship together for this long and most likely the rest of their lives.

And when Davidson headed to Southern California to face UCLA in the Wooden Classic this past weekend, who was there?

Bro and Tripp, of course, rooting on their 'Cats despite a 75-63 loss to the Bruins. Because, after all, it's moments like those that only come every now and then for two best friends separated by more than 1,300 miles.

So as Tripp continues to work in Charlotte for his father's T-shirt printing company, it's Bro who resides far, far away in Odessa, Texas, where he struggles to make ends meet at the Odessa American.

"I'm 31," Bro wrote in an e-mail to Kruse last week, "entering a new section of life, and still dependent upon my friends of old like Tripper to keep me 'grounded' while I'm struggling to make it in a dying business in a far-off, off-the-road location where 75 percent of America would never consider living and where 90 percent of journalists would never consider working.

"I can do that because of friends like Tripp."

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