OFD 10: Love March Madness. How college basketball and our relationship intersect.

My wife and I love March Madness. Between the basketball, the nice(r) weather, and our annual free throw contest (ed note: 4-0, Stasia) we look forward to it every year.

Especially when we’re able to cheer on our Cyclones, together.

Now, it’s not like we’re the kind of people that have our house painted in our school colors. Aesthetically, we’re just way too vain for that.

However, if you’ve ever seen our cat’s football jersey you know how we feel about a certain school in the middle of the state of Iowa. Or if you visit our offices you can’t miss the pennants, the mugs, the tiny Cy, and the mouse pads.

And if you ever ask us to talk about where we went to college, well, that’s where you’ll really see how passionate we are about our alma mater, Iowa State University.

Recently I had a family member that was trying to decide where to go to school. Listening to him and his family talk about what factors they were considering, not to mention how expensive college can be got me to thinking about why I went to ISU.

Because frankly, choosing a college can be one of the most impactful decision you’ll EVER make in your life. Almost more than any other decision you’ll face, the college you pick has the power to push your life in wildly different directions socially, financially, and professionally.

After graduating from college and working for the last 10 years I firmly believe that value you get from college, like life, is 100% dependent on the effort you put into it.

I really believe that if you work hard, get involved with groups and professors on campus, you can be incredibly success no matter what college you pick or how highly ranked it is. Truthfully, a good ability to hustle is probably way more important than even going to college in a lot of fields.

Heck, I don’t even use my materials engineering degree.

So that really got me thinking about why I’m so passionate about ISU. What was the real ROI on my investment?

The best decision of my life (aka the answer to why we love March Madness)

Back in 2002 I was down to ISU and the the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Both Universities are top notch, and each has an incredible campus. No decision would have been a bad one.

However, when it came time to choose where to go I vividly remember saying to my mom, “I think I’d want to live in Madison, but I want to go to school at Iowa State.”

Something about it just felt right. Walking around campus I felt like I was going to be surrounded by people who would encourage me to succeed, to get involved on campus, who were proud to be a part of “Cyclone Nation”.

And that all proved to be 100% true.

In my four years on campus I met an incredible number of amazing people that inspired me to push myself. To study abroad. To learn about leadership. To not be afraid to make connections with people who had been wildly successful in their own fields.

Most importantly, Iowa State was where I met my wife.

The person who makes every single thing I learned and the degree I earned totally and completely irrelevant because she alone has made every single penny I ever spent going to ISU 100% worthwhile.

Yes, of course maybe I could have met her later on in life. Or maybe you don’t believe in destiny or one true love. Whatever. It doesn’t matter.

My point is that going to Iowa State put me in a position to be surrounded by thousands of amazingly diverse, yet likemind people who I couldn’t have been luckier to have make an impact in my life.

One of whom would become my wife.

And to me, THAT is why I’m so passionate about Iowa State and the real reason why my experience there was invaluable.

So coming back around to why we love March Madness, we, like so many other people, love it because it is a reminder of those people and our shared history.

For some it brings them back to friends, roommates, professors, or intramural t-shirts. To others it is the games, parties and late nights in the bar (err, lab).

And for us it is extra special because ISU is woven into the fabric of our relationship. It is an irreplaceable part of who we are.

Win or lose I can’t even begin to calculate an ROI on that.

Go State.

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