Memorable sports moments depicted by the Highlander Staff

Memories of my first Lakers game with my uncle

By: Jordan Hom, SSW

Jan. 2, 2015. That was the date of the first and only Lakers game that I’ve been to. This game was special to me because I got to go with my uncle. I remember the car ride there and I felt my level of anticipation increase when we got in line to enter the Staples Center. When we got inside, the arena felt pretty special; the overall atmosphere was rocking and I was actually inside the arena where the Lakers won all of those championships. I had been to a few Clippers games in the past, but there was something different about the Lakers game atmosphere that Clippers games just lacked.

Although I was never a huge Lakers fan growing up, I was pretty excited to go to the game because I got to see Kobe Bryant play. I didn’t always cheer for Kobe but as I got older, I started to appreciate him for his greatness and overall contributions to basketball. I also got to see Jeremy Lin play in person and that was special because I remember cheering for him during his “Linsanity” craze. 

That game, the Lakers played the Memphis Grizzlies. Although Lin did not start the game, I vividly remember that he had a decent shooting night from the field and each time he scored a basket, the crowd cheered very loudly for him. Lin ended the night with 20 points in 28 minutes. 

Kobe also had a decent game too as he finished the game with a near triple-double. Kobe ended with 15 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. The game was pretty neck-and-neck for the duration of the game. Although the Lakers kept the game close until the very end, they were unable to hold off Marc Gasol, who finished the night with a triple-double. The Lakers ended up losing the game by three points with the final score being 109-106

To me the final score didn’t matter all too much because I still got to see some of my favorite players, Kobe Bryant and Jeremy Lin. I also got to spend time with my uncle so that made the game even more special. 

Enjoying the women’s beach volleyball 2012 Olympic finals with my best friend

By: Christine Tran, SSW

My best friend and I shared a lot of similarities growing up. For example, we both had bossy older siblings and our birthdays were exactly nine days apart, but somehow we never really liked the same sports. Throughout elementary school, she preferred to run around on grassy fields dribbling soccer balls while the only dribbling I enjoyed was on the concrete floor underneath a basketball hoop. However, in middle school, for the first time, we both developed a growing curiosity for one sport: volleyball. 

The 2012 London Summer Olympics were on television and my best friend and I were sitting on the floor of her living room waiting in anticipation for the women’s beach volleyball finals. Our favorite duo of Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings had reached the Olympic finals for the third time in a row but this was the first time we were old enough to be excited and eager to watch.

The match was against fellow American duo Jennifer Kessy and April Ross, which meant either way it would have been a win for the U.S. However, to my best friend and I, the win definitely would have not felt the same if May-Treanor and Jennings weren’t the ones who took it home. We fidgeted nervously as the duo we were rooting for fell behind at the beginning but our nerves were settled as they pulled through and won the first set. 

Toward the end of the second set, May-Treanor and Jennings were one point away from achieving a three-peat. Our eyes were glued to the screen as Kessy served the ball and it flew over the net. It sailed right past May-Treanor and hit the sand right outside the end line. Even though it was kind of anti-climatic to win because of serving error, we still cheered alongside May-Treanor and Jennings as they fell to the ground yelling with joy. They had secured their third Olympic gold medal and dominated both sets, 21-16, 21-16. 

In the fall after May-Treanor and Jennings’ win, I was actually gifted a volleyball for my birthday. I remember being excited to bring it to school the next day so my best friend and I could attempt to relive the best parts of the game. Even though as I got older my love for basketball eventually outgrew the one I had for volleyball, I will always have a soft spot for the sport because of how fun it was to enjoy it with my best friend.

Watching the All-Ireland Finals with my grandfather

By: Colin Carney, SSW

Before I can go into detail explaining why this moment was so important to me, it is crucial to provide a little context. My grandparents both were born and raised in Ireland and my grandfather played gaelic football for County Mayo. I do not expect many to be aware of the sport especially considering how it is almost exclusively played in Ireland. For an easier understanding of how the sport is played, gaelic football shares many similarities to rugby and is won when one team outscores the other by kicking or punching the ball into the opposing team’s goal for three points or between two upright posts for one point (two consecutive score tallies are kept for each team and combined to get each team’s score).

Each county has its own team that plays in order to compete in the annual All-Ireland Senior Football Championship and win the coveted Sam Maguire Cup. My grandfather played gaelic football for his home county Mayo and even earned himself several accolades for his skill on the field. Most impressively, however, was when he and his team won the Sam Maguire Cup in 1950 and 1951. Unfortunately, Mayo has been unable to add another banner since their championship in 1951 despite making it to the finals several times. One such championship was on October 1, 2016 against Dublin after they had tied against them only a few weeks prior, forcing a replay of the final.

After having watched the first game on a small computer screen early in the morning (to account for the time difference) with my dad and grandfather, we decided to go all out for the replay. Early in the morning on October 1, my parents and I drove down to my grandparent’s house in Long Beach to watch the game on their big TV. As we arrived at my grandparents’ home nearly at the crack of dawn, we were joined by my aunt, uncle and two of their kids as well as a friendly neighbor.

Gathered around my grandparent’s TV in their living room, we all sat and watched the game unfold as we ate our breakfast. As the game progressed, we all became deeply invested. We each jumped for joy when Mayo scored, sighed when Dublin did the same and yelled at the refs when a foul was called. 

Prior to that day, I could count the number of gaelic football matches I had seen on one hand and very few of us could actually tell you the rules of the game. Despite this ignorance, being there with my grandfather watching his county play for the final and reacting to every moment with him made us all die hard fans of the sport. Unfortunately, luck was not on our side as Dublin managed to score with a penalty and beat Mayo by a single point. We were all visibly heartbroken by their loss, yet still managed to be in high spirits as we immediately began to look forward to the next season and Mayo’s prospects of making it to the finals. In fact, that early morning viewing of the All-Ireland finals with my grandfather and cousins has made me a fan of the game as I do my best to keep up with the sport despite an ocean separating me from Ireland.

How Super Bowl 43 put me on edge

By: Cody Davis, SSW

As a little kid, I admit I was never really interested in football. However, there came a point in time where this all changed. It was the 2008 NFL season when my love for the sport finally began to develop. I remember for years, I would watch my dad scream and yell at the TV trying to understand why he was so passionate about the game. One day, I decided that I would sit down and watch some games with him. At first, I didn’t understand much of what was going on, but the intensity of each play slowly started to capture my interest. Before long, I found myself playing video games like NFL 2k5 and wanting to learn more about the sport.

Interestingly enough, the year I started following the sport was also the year my dad’s favorite team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, went 12-4 and made it to the Super Bowl. As you can imagine, by the time the 2008-2009 playoffs started, I had already become a newly indoctrinated Steelers fan. Like my father, I found myself clapping my hands every time the Steelers made a great play or yelling at the top of my lungs every time the officials called a penalty against us. By the time Super Bowl 43 came around, I was ready to see my favorite team secure their sixth Super Bowl against the Arizona Cardinals.

Looking back, I remember feeling incredibly on edge watching that game. It almost felt like if the Steelers lost, then the universe would cease to exist or something. During the first half, I was able to keep my composure since the Steelers were able to go into halftime with a two score lead over the Cardinals (17-7) thanks in part to then Steelers linebacker James Harrison who made Super Bowl history by returning a 100-yard interception for a touchdown.

The second half did not go as smoothly. Both teams struggled to score in the third quarter with Pittsburgh only managing to score three. However, it was the fourth quarter where I finally began to go crazy. It was during this quarter that the Cardinals were able to score 16 unanswered points. Each time Arizona scored, I remember jumping out of my seat yelling, “Don’t you guys wanna win!?” while pacing around my house. Eventually, when Arizona managed to take the lead (20-23) with less than a few minutes left in the game, I ran upstairs, slammed my door and started pulling my hair. I remember my dad tried calming me down by saying “Relax, there’s still plenty of football to be played.”  He was right.

The Steelers were able to make their way down field and get back into scoring position. With less than 45 seconds left on the clock, Steelers quarterback Ben Roelisthisberger was able to connect with Steelers wide receiver Santonio Holmes for the game winning touchdown. The Steelers ended up winning their sixth Lombardi trophy and I was beyond ecstatic. The universe had been saved!  

Watching Naomi Osaka beat Serena Williams at the 2018 US Open

By: Evan Ismail, SSW 

I have always been a big fan of tennis and even though my high school did not have a tennis team, I quenched my enthusiasm for the sport by playing at the local park with my brother and watching tennis on television. It was just before the start of my third year and I had just returned from my internship in Washington, D.C. when the U.S. Open began on Aug. 27 2018. I’ve always enjoyed watching Serena Williams play and hadn’t really heard much about Naomi Osaka at this point so I was excited to watch them go head-to-head. 

It was a very interesting matchup especially given Williams’ experience (she played her first professional tournament two years before Osaka was born) and I expected her to use that experience to her fullest ability. So, I was a bit surprised when Osaka beat Williams 6-2 in the first set. 

In the second set, things became a bit more heated as the very strict chair umpire Carlos Ramos called a code violation claiming Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou signaled a coaching hand gesture, so Ramos interpreted. I personally felt he could have been a bit more lenient but Osaka kept coming with a strong serve. The game would keep its nail-biting character especially when Williams smashed her racket on the court and Osaka gained a point from the penalty. The crowd appeared to be with Williams as she argued with the umpire. Osaka’s final serve sealed the game at 2-6 4-6 when Williams tipped the ball and it flew wide.  

Regardless of all the drama, Williams and Osaka both played a great game and it was incredible to watch. It was unfortunate to hear the crowd treat Osaka so negatively. Williams treating Osaka the way she did after the match shows Williams’ class and sportsmanship. Tennis is always exciting even when matches don’t make the news like this one did and I look forward to watching the next time these two face off.