Friday, April 1, 2016

Real Strength

I may only be your average NCAA basketball fan; not a fanatic, while also not oblivious to the game either. That said, every March I go full on mad for March Madness. I fill out at least one bracket, play a few squares in my office pool, and this year sat down for the first time to help my son fill out his own tournament brackets. While both our brackets have been busted for a solid week now, it was still great fun.

Filling out our tournament brackets with my son was a great experience. We had the chance to talk about the teams, how the brackets are seeded, where the games are played, and what kind of tournament upsets to expect. We began following our selections, crossing off the losses, and high-fiveing after every correct pick. To make our March experience even better, I was contacted by Dove Men+Care and offered two tickets to take a friend to an Elite Eight game in Louisville, KY! A game in Louisville sounded perfect, as it's just a short two hour drive from Indy, and a Saturday would be really convenient for me to get out for a day trip. I could not have been more excited to hear from Dove Men+Care with this offer.

Dove Men+Care has a new campaign highlighting the relationship between basketball coaches Jim Calhoun and Kevin Ollie of UConn. It shows another side of what makes men heroes in each other’s eyes, and how caring for one another fosters real bonds of friendship. While I got to share the bracket experience with my son, I wanted to invite my brother to share the game with me. We live several hours apart, and Louisville was right in the middle, making it the perfect location to share the bond forged on the court in our youth. 

We each made it to Louisville a few hours before the game last Saturday, and met up at a sports bar downtown. I was impressed with the atmosphere everywhere we walked, and we quickly picked up our friendship where we last left off, sharing stories and laughs, and listened to the Villanova fans cheer every time some stranger also wearing Nova colors walked by. 

By the time the match-up between Kansas and Villanova started, we found our seats, and a few other dad friends I've made while living in Indianapolis. We watched as one of the best games of the 2016 NCAA March Madness Tournament played out in front of us. We cheered as Kansas drove the court for a slam, we clapped as Nova played stellar defense, we got wrapped up in the action as the game came down to the final minutes and Villanova sealed a victory and a trip to the Final Four. 

All through the game, we were adding another chapter to our lifelong friendship. From playing H-O-R-S-E in the driveway as kids, to one-on-one in high school, to watching college athletes at the top of their game, basketball has left its mark on this Hoosier family. I was excited to have the chance, and my brother was thrilled I accepted the offer from Dove and invited him to share in the experience. Real Strength is forged in shared experiences, and this was one we'll talk about for years to come. The game, the laughs, the drinks, the stadium hotdogs... it all plays a role in this memory.

When the game was over and the stands emptied, We found ourselves walking to two separate parking garages, saying our farewells and promising to pick things up right where we were leaving them the next time we got together. It's a friendship that will not break, and one I look forward to strengthening even more in the future. Maybe this summer we'll find ourselves at a baseball game together!

Disclosure: I was provided with free tickets and a fuel card for the NCAA game. However, I was not compensated for this post. Thank you to Dove Men+Care for continually supporting and fostering the growth of fatherhood and friendship between men.