Our family caught â€śJimmermaniaâ€ť in more ways than one.
For us, the new noun not only refers to adoration toward BYUâ€™s talented point guard but love of the game in general â€” a madness that pervades long before March.
If you donâ€™t already know, Montana is a breeding ground for intense girls basketball teams. When we first moved north 12 years ago, we were baffled when local sports news segments led with girls basketball highlights.
Thatâ€™s right. I said led.
We couldnâ€™t believe lore of school buses full of traveling basketball players being rolled over by defiant opponents from feisty mining towns â€” no matter who won the battle in the gym.
Then, we watched the inspiring and gritty Montana PBS documentary â€śClass C: The Only Game in Town,â€ť which follows five small-town girl teams through a rough and tumble season. It educated us on the varied reasons girls basketball gives lifeblood to small, depressed towns and reservations on Montanaâ€™s prairies and essential hope to players trying to aspire higher.
Now, weâ€™re living it.
Our 13-year-old twins, who grew too long for a gymnastâ€™s balance beam, started dribbling â€” much to my husbandâ€™s delight. They discovered inner aggression and competitive fierceness as well as the ability to read strategy on a court that leaves me dumbfounded.
My husband volunteered to coach their seventh-grade club team and forged not only strong father/daughter bonds but a fundamentally sound group of winners who are scrappy and tough against girls sometimes twice their size.
For them, a perfect day is to return bruised and battered from their own game and then watch a recorded BYU matchup where they can learn from the likes of Jackson Emery and Jimmer Fredette.
Iâ€™m supportive of Cougar mania because thatâ€™s how I was raised.
My dad, a dedicated BYU fan and king of sports trivia, took my brother and me to Provo twice a week to watch Danny Ainge, Devin Durrant and Michael Smith on snowy winter nights. I learned to love the sport, adore the Marriott Center and hate those Jonesâ€™ Paint and Glass commercials that ran far too frequently during postgame coachâ€™s shows.
It was worth our eight-hour drive from Montana last season to watch a double-header of BYU womenâ€™s basketball in the afternoon and menâ€™s basketball in the evening. We enjoyed cheese fries at our favorite Provo hamburger joint in between games â€” a quality family memory indeed.
Weâ€™ll make the journey again this season to witness Jimmer and Jackson in their last battle on their home court. Iâ€™m eager to watch the game but even more excited to see my dad flanked on either side by twin granddaughters with similar passions and insight.
The other day, my 9-year-old son (whom my husband wanted to name â€śTreyâ€ť in hopes he could hear an ESPN announcer call â€śTrey Duce with a trey and a deuce,â€ť and well, you get the picture) â€¦
Anyway, my son (with a normal name) rushed into the house after discovering mountain lion tracks in fresh snow across our yard. Our neighbor called to confirm that heâ€™d seen the cougar chasing deer in the adjoining field.
My son and I actually joked, â€śWell, I guess those deer got jimmered by a cougar.â€ť
It was funny in the moment and later surprised me how easily weâ€™ve added a new word to our personal urban dictionary since basketball season began.
Without a doubt, Jimmer Fredette has made a lasting impression on the basketball world as well as two look-alike 13-year-olds trying to master outside shots and impenetrable drives with the same finesse, strength and justified swagger.
Weâ€™re cheering for the sport as well as the entertainment and education provided by talented collegiate athletes who will never know all who are inspired by their play.