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My UCLA Story

"Riles" have been around the UCLA online message boards for a long time. He was one of the original critics of Steve Lavin. He also was one of the first posters who called out Karl Dorrell. Oh he loves Ben Howland like the rest of BN. And just like BN he was one of the first to get on the hire Rick Neuheisel bandwagon last December. In other words, he is one of those UCLA fans who have always followed/supported our programs based on reality based facts and who has a knack of getting things right. Well the kid posted this magical story on BRO yesterday and he was kind of enough to share it with rest of us here in the Nation. Amazing stuff and congrats to Riles. GO BRUINS. -N

When I was 7, my aunt Patty, a UCLA alum, took me to my first UCLA Football and Basketball games. My belief is that I was the fill-in for her son, who was a UCLA student at the time, but was attending games with his friends. She needed someone to go to the games with...I liked sports (hell, she started me on hockey, too). This became a regular thing. The '86 Freedom Bowl. Arizona road trips. SC @ the Sports Arena. Learning about John Wooden. Hearing about how bad Hazzard was as a Head Coach. Listening to game broadcasts on the radio. Basically, I was hanging around someone on a pretty regular basis that was a big UCLA supporter.

This is what led to me taking on UCLA Basketball and Football as something I was interested in - more than passively. I grew up playing traveling (ice) hockey, and didn't have the time to dedicate to competitive basketball or football. I stuck to watching UCLA in my downtime. I can remember watching 4.8 in an ice rink in Harbor City. I can remember the year after (or maybe it was 97), Charles O'Bannon hitting a game-winner against SC at the buzzer. Karim Abdul Jabbar (Sharmon Shah) go from side to side, and reverse his direction a few times before getting in the endzone. I remember finding UCLA Basketball Forums on AOL when I was 13/14, and reading posts with some good info from MrGladstne...early internet. Thank Science for Bruin message boards and blogs and what they have become.

So all of that said, I've always had a conflict about being a UCLA "fan" - in the sense that that is all I can be. I've never been a student there. I can't debate really on issues like admissions, budgets, etc. I'd sit back and think, "How and why do I support this institution in which my real connection is that of my aunt who introduced me too it (rather matter-of-factly, I might add. USC was never an option.)?" I don't know. I've never been able to reconcile it, to be honest. As it came time to apply to schools to transfer to, I had to think about life as a guy who used to be a UCLA fan. It's weird. I guess I could root for the Ducks. Or the Bears. Or the Gauchos. Longhorns? Maybe. It wouldn't be as fun, though.

In 2001, Patty passed away after a second bout with cancer. I wish she was here to read this note I received yesterday: