If Ohio University fans are looking to support their team at a Bobcat sporting event, they’ll be well off if they can clap and spell “O-H-I-O.”
Though the ability to yell and be within walking distance of The Convo is all fans typically need, cheering becomes much more difficult when their beloved Bobcats are playing hundreds of miles away.
As the John Groce-led Ohio Bobcats put on their glass slippers and made their way to the sweetest rounds of the NCAA tournament, missing the games in Nashville and St. Louis wasn’t an option for some OU faithful.
“Everyone knows exactly how rare of a moment this is,” said Trace Lydick, a senior at OU who made the trek to both Nashville and St. Louis.
During Lydick’s 4-year tenure, the men’s basketball team has appeared in the NCAA tournament twice, but he did not go to Providence, R.I., two years ago to watch the 14-seed Bobcats upset Georgetown in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
With a call to his father, the Belpre native made it known he wouldn’t miss the Big Dance two times as an undergraduate.
“I had no idea he was going to go until (OU) won the (Mid-American Conference) tournament,” said Brian Lydick, a 1988 OU alumnus himself. “When they did and got a bid, Trace called me up and said, ‘Dad, I’m going.’ That started the whole thing.”
Splitting gas money with a car full of Bobcat fanatics, Trace Lydick was able to follow the team to the Music City with a little help from his family and friends.
“For me, it hasn’t been difficult justifying the cost,” he said. “I ironically had a place to stay (with a family member) about 40 minutes outside of Nashville, so I knew I had lodging covered. Gas was split between friends, so gas down and back was maybe $25.”
After purchasing tickets on the Internet for about $100, Trace said the Nashville journey cost him about $150 in total.
When it came time to find a way to St. Louis, the fact that his mother lived in Louisville, Ky., about a four-and-a-half hour drive to The Arch, was enough for Trace. This time around, family members, including his sister Jaide, an OU junior, joined him.
Dedication such as Trace’s and the rest of Bobcat Nation’s — particularly in this NCAA run — didn’t go unnoticed.
“Our fans have been great all year. The student body has been great,” Groce said. “We traveled not only to St. Louis but to Nashville as well, and we had great support. People in Athens and at Ohio University care a lot about our program.”
OU President Roderick McDavis, first lady Deborah McDavis, and Athletic Director Jim Schaus joined Bobcat faithful in St. Louis. Former players Adetunji Adedipe, Asown Sayles, Armon Bassett and DeVaughn Washington also made their way to the Sweet 16 to support their former teammates.
The attendance at Friday’s game was 23,964.