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Old 06-08-2016, 12:33 PM   #1
Marc Wigim
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Default ***ARTICLE*** Wes Washpun Will Go Out A Winner

Wes Washpun Will Go Out A Winner

I have written a few times about my experiences with schizophrenia, but rarely have I talked about my attempts to re-right the ship. One such attempt to improve my mental stature that reaped a lot of significant rewards was my undertaking of meditation. I know what some of you are thinking: “Oh, that’s ridiculous.” I just have to tell you this story to maybe parlay what kinds of cool things happen when you sit down for at least fifteen minutes a day and clear your mind of everything bothering you from day to day.

It all started about a week before the 2016 MVC Tournament. I sat down for my daily meditation session. Normally I make an attempt to clear my mind and allow whatever occurs to me to pass like a river’s current. This time, however, I had selfish motives.

Knowing full well that UNI needed a three-game sweep in St. Louis in order to get into the 2016 NCAA Tournament, I sat in meditation and decided I was going to implore the mysteries of the universe in order to get an answer to what was probably a fairly insipid question in the grand scheme of things. “How will the University of Northern Iowa do in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament next week?”

I felt a sensation wash over me. It wasn’t exactly a voice, but it was a feeling that I couldn’t shake. “Wes Washpun will go out a winner,” was all that I could get from this particular session. Realizing the folly of asking such a trivial question in the grand scheme of things, I admit that I didn’t think much of it leading up to the tournament in St. Louis.

I told my father about my meditation session on the car ride down to St. Louis. He shrugged it off in the same fashion as I did. “It would be nice,” he said. “But we’re definitely going to have to win the tournament in order to get a bid.” I agreed. There was one thing that no one could ever take from us, however: the fact that we were going to have an absolute blast watching high-quality Division I basketball.

“I don't feel like I had very high hopes for the team heading into the tournament. With the highs and lows in the season I didn't want to expect a championship and then be let down, yet I knew it was possible after the win at Wichita,” said long-time Panther fan Rob Weiss about the feelings going down to the tournament. There were two losses to Loyola, along with the undeniable fact that at one point in the season UNI was 10-11. If an NCAA Tournament bid was in the cards, it would have to come in the form of a three-of-a-kind.

As you all may know, UNI won their first game against Southern Illinois in a thriller. My father (here on referred to affectionately as “Pops”) and I had a great time celebrating the win afterwards. The Wichita State fans in the hotel we were staying at had very little to say about our upcoming matchup the following day other than they were desperately hoping SIU would win because they didn’t want to face us a third time. Again, you all know what happened next. The Panthers won in overtime in one of the greatest non-championship games in MVC Tournament history. Pops was exhausted after that game and left me to my own devices. I decided to venture out of the hotel room and see what was going around in the area.

I ran into some very pleasant Southern Illinois fans at the bar at our hotel. We were staying in the Southern Illinois team hotel, so their presence wasn’t exactly a shock. I asked them what they thought about the direction our program was headed. I’ll never forget what a long-time SIU fan told me.

“You have the right coach, the right facility, and the right fans,” she said. “We’re a little bit jealous of where you are right now, but only because we’ve been there before and want to get back to it. It’s important to remember that you have to maintain that standard every year, though.” We talked for a while, but that quote always stood out to me.

Then came the game against Evansville. I remember going outside at halftime of what was looking like a dominant UNI win. The UNI fans were nervous, and the Evansville fans had given up hope. Pops and I kept telling them, “This isn’t over. It’s going to be a game until the very end.” It was true: with a lineup that featured D.J. Balentine and Egidjius Mockevicius, they weren’t going to go away without a fight.

Well, let’s all say it together: Wes Washpun for the win. In the ecstasy and joy that permeated through the UNI section of fans Pops and I were sitting in, he turned to me with a wild look of joy and mystery. “Wes Washpun will go out a winner,” he said to me with a huge smile. “I know!” I replied with shock and elation. “I’m freaked out, too!”

Is it coincidence? I don’t know. Is it coincidence that I got to meet Wes’ father before the Wichita State game and finally got the opportunity to tell someone how much I appreciated that Wes Washpun came to UNI to stake his claim? Is it coincidence that Wes’ father and my father work together, which set up the meeting? Is it coincidence that Washpun scored 47 points in three games to get UNI a well-deserved bid in a season that featured a win over the nation’s runner-up for the national title? I’ll let you all be the judge of that. In the meantime, I don’t think it would hurt anything to ask in my meditation how UNI will do in the 2016-17 season with Jeremy Morgan and Wyatt Lohaus returning at the guard spot along with Bennett Koch and Klint Karlson inside. Not to mention Juwan McCloud and Hunter Rhodes coming in to step the Cats up on the outside. But that’s an article for another time…

"Once it starts, it never ends."
-Eldon Miller
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Old 06-09-2016, 07:00 PM   #2
Last Online: 05-07-2017 09:39 PM
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Default Re: ***ARTICLE*** Wes Washpun Will Go Out A Winner

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and story. I got goose bumps reading it!
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