Photo Credit: Stew Milne/PC Athletics

It wasn’t supposed to end this way.

I’ve started writing this article maybe five different times, and every time I type the first part of that sentence I stop, and try to think of something better to say. I don’t want this to be the opening statement on one of the last articles of the season. I want there to be something optimistic to say. I took the weekend to meditate on this. I spent my Sunday wishing for Selection Sunday to be on and looking for my copy of College Hoops 2K8.

Like everyone else in Friartown, I’m crushed right now. I’ve been crushed since Thursday afternoon when it was announced the Big East would not continue its tournament. I was even more crushed when, hours later, the entirety of the NCAA Tournament was cancelled as well.

I tried to put my feelings into words, and I tried to have conversations with other fans about this, but it was hard. What was there to say that could make this better? It wasn’t a crushing loss early in the season, or an upset in March that bounces your team, this was something deeper and harder to contextualize.

I saw the Friar fanbase come together through this. This is a highly opinionated fanbase, and it’s part of my job to take those different perspectives and add context and understanding to them.

This doesn’t make me more important than anyone else, I’m just the guy with the difficult job of holding the pen. But this time it wasn’t hard – we’re all on the same page. This was an opportunity that was taken from young men who represented the Providence College name and lineage with pride.

They turned their season around, earned every inch of what they accomplished, and did not quit – even when I’m sure it was as frustrating (if not more) for them as it was for us as fans. They were the story you hoped for them to become.

Heck, before the cancellation I was brainstorming an article about how this team became that coming-together-underdog story you see in most sports movies. And it was all of our stories – theirs and ours as the fans that support them.

We’re not just extras, we are a part of that momentum. We cheer for them because they have represented us on that court.

But their story was abruptly cut off just before the penultimate moments of the NCAA Tournament. And now we’re left asking the “What If” question in a way we’ve never had to ask it before.

Sure, we can ask “What if Marvin didn’t get injured in 73” and “What if they ended up winning in the Elite Eight of 97” but this isn’t the same context. Once the ball goes up for tip-off, anything can happen.

In 2020, the ball never went up.

The Friars never took the court, they never got to decide their fate. Asking “What if” now is a much different question – and not one that’s easy to speculate.

Days later, I’m still trying to find the right words to describe what I feel. I’m still trying to place this unforeseen and unfortunate event into a context that I can reconcile. I’m not sure if I’ll ever hit that point to be honest with you though. I’m really upset, and angry, and frustrated.

This is so far beyond any of our control that it feels both powerless and exhausting all at once. If I’m having a hard time expressing that on paper, I apologize. If this feels a bit more stream of conscious than my other articles, or more personal, this is the best I can offer right now. I don’t know if more time will change that, so I don’t see a point in putting off writing this any longer.

But there is something good I’ve thought about, and that’s the Friar community coming together.

This is a time when, no matter who said what on Twitter, or what you saw posted on a message board, you can forget all that to offer comfort and validation at a time when it’s very frustrating and hard to find the good in something. I suppose in that way we’re reminded of how lucky we are to be Friar fans.

We are an intimate, close-knit community. We know each other. We recognize one another and enjoy celebrating our team together. Much like our team overcame their challenges by coming together, we too will overcome this hardship in the same way.

I have been writing a fan column for YurView (formally CoxHub) for six years now. Prior to that I wrote for places like FriarBlog, BEBC, Scout, and WPRI. Writing from a fan perspective is what I do, it’s what I love because I love being a fan. And even now, when something so impossibly unthinkable happens, I’m proud to be a Friar. We’ve overcome so much together, and we’ll continue to do that.

I’m grateful to be a Friar for these reasons, and I’m lucky I’ll get to keep sharing that for a long time to come.