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How did I become a Kansas fan? Honestly, sometimes you are just born into something. Kansas fandom is one of those things for me. How else is someone born in Iowa City, stop through Oklahoma City, do a stint in Ames Iowa, "grow up" in Quincy Illinois and through all that find themselves a fan of Kansas?
I haven't made a stop in my life prior to moving to Lawrence for college where Kansas wasn't the enemy. Iowa is obviously Hawkeye and Cyclone country, OU dominated the OKC market and Quincy Illinois had a large number of Illini fans and more Missouri Tigers than I care to remember.
Despite that, for as along as I can remember I followed Kansas. Yes I have fond memories of Johnny Orr and Cyclone basketball, but the games I can remember most vividly include Kevin Pritchard and Mark Randall in Hilton Coliseum.
Why is that? Well, I'm a third generation Jayhawk. Both of my grandparents on my mothers side went from small town Waverly Kansas to Lawrence for college. They were married in Danforth Chapel and I'll always remember my grandmother singing along with the fight song or watching the '91 title game loss to Duke with my grandpa.
On my dads side interestingly enough both grandparents attended Missouri. My dad ended up at Kansas and to this day my grandmother roots for the Jayhawks over the Tigers. I think I honestly thought she went to Kansas until I was in my later years of high school.
It wasn't that the Jayhawks were force fed to me, I think it was just a gradual series of great memories associated with Lawrence, the Jayhawks and Kansas that created the draw. The games, the sites, the sounds, the smells, everything about it sticks in my mind.
Roy Williams basketball camp. Receiving Mark Randall's shoe for taking the most charges. The five hour drive to Lawrence for a football game. A walk across campus on a fall day. Probably my favorite was the annual trip to the Big 8/Big 12 tournament with my dad. Three days of non stop basketball, one monstrous Italian dinner at Jenny's and the late movie at the crown center. Same every year and I wouldn't trade it for anything.
Kansas was and still is a common bond with family. Amazingly of my grandfathers twelve grandchildren, I am the only one to have chosen Kansas for my college destination. Yes there are Ivy league grads, a pilot, a Notre Dame soccer player, musical standouts and world travelers in the group, but to this day he often makes a special note of my Jayhawk roots when we all get together in Kansas City for Thanksgiving.
For me Kansas was where I belonged. It was a passion. There really wasn't another option on the table in my mind from the word go. I'm a fan, a graduate and a Jayhawk for life. Kansas basketball and Kansas football are a welcome diversion and one of the things I look forward to most on any given gameday.
Yes it's cheesy, the story can probably be retold on many different levels all over the country, but this is my story, it's where I come from and it's made the University of Kansas and Kansas sports a pretty special place for me and my family.