Editor’s note: As part of a media transparency initiative, on May 8, 2017, the Collegian spent the last day of publishing of the year telling our readers about us. You can read more about the people behind our publication in the Editor’s Blog.
The 2016-17 school year was filled with quite a few storybook moments for the sports desk. Football said goodbye to Hughes Stadium, women’s basketball secured an unprecedented fourth consecutive regular season league title, CSU track and field set numerous school and conference records.
Of all the monumental moments, nothing stands out in my mind like the 2017 “Orange Out” men’s basketball game between San Diego State and Colorado State.
Not only were the Rams able to overcome a 12-point deficit to earn the first series sweep over the Aztecs since 2003, but they were able to do it in the most exciting way possible: a buzzer-beating 3-point shot to win, followed by a sea of students storming the court in celebration.
More than the outcome of the game itself, I will never forget the raw emotion that the players featured during the contest. For thirty minutes, everything seemed to go the Aztecs’ way. It did not matter. The Rams continued to fight and eventually that tenacity made the ultimate difference.
An emotional Emmanuel Omogbo standing on the court with students tumbling down from the stands around him will likely be ingrained in the back of my mind for the rest of my life. It was everything we love about sports and the culmination of a roller-coaster year in which Omogbo had given everything he had for his team. On that day and in that moment, all of us got to experience just how much it meant to him.
After tragically losing his family in a house fire in the spring of 2016, Omogbo had opened up about his personal life with us on multiple occasions over the course of the 2016-17 season. Throughout the year, he referenced the 2016-17 campaign as his “thank you season” in honor of the support he received from the CSU community. This moment was the culmination of all Omogbo’s work.
Following the game, Omogbo put things in perspective when he stared out at the media with tears in his eyes and explained that it was his late relatives that pushed him through the final moments.
“I was unconscious,” Omogbo said. “That was probably my parents that forced the ball to go in, and my niece and nephew. I knew it couldn’t have been only me.”
As a sports reporter this job is not always what ESPN makes it out to be. Rarely is it boldly stating your opinion or living in the spotlight. In fact, most of the time this job is incredibly frustrating.
Frustration with not being able to get your questions answered. Frustration with deadlines and countless red tape to jump through. In this specific moment though, everything was perfect. I had experienced one of the most exciting moments in CSU hoops history firsthand and got to tell a story that was so much bigger than basketball. In this moment, I knew without a doubt that I had made the right decision to follow my passion.
Collegian Sports Director Justin Michael can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @JustinTMichael.