Knight nation proved its strength last week
I watched the last quarter of the UCF v. Penn State game from the Student Union.
There wasn't a really big reason why I was in there. I was getting lunch from Subway, it was close to where I needed to be and, while I'd planned on watching the game, getting back into the swing of classes meant I was tired enough to oversleep most of the game.
That being said, when I got to the Student Union and saw the game up on the four giant HD screens, I delayed lunch and decided to hang around for a bit.
While I was watching, I could hear the cheers and boos from Wackadoo's.
If I'd been in the mood for food that was more sports-bar-style, I might have gone in, but as it was I stayed out in the main area and watched with a couple of other people. For everything that happened in the game, good or bad, I heard a small (but loud) chorus of responses.
And when I went outside for a minute, I could hear the sounds of the viewing party from over by the arena.
That was UCF celebrating, for the most part.
On Sept. 2, I got the alert on my phone that Steven Sotloff had been murdered. The next day there was a memorial where hundreds of people — students, alumni and others — gathered to remember a fallen Knight. There was a total absence of sound when the moment of silence at the end lasted for much longer than just a moment, and it continued even while people were placing their lights by the edge of the Reflecting Pond.
People didn't seek out the many different cameras and reporters to give their experiences on what had happened. They just grieved quietly and respectfully.
That was UCF mourning.
There were chances to see both when I was on campus last year, and to some degree, I did, but not so close together.
In a campus 60,000 strong, even when you belong to a club, it's very easy to think you're just one of many — a number for admissions to brag about. And to some degree, that even holds a bit of truth at the end of the day. Seeing how the campus banded together, though, in both happiness and sadness, made me proud to call myself a Knight. While I'd felt that pride when we won the Tostitos Bowl, this went deeper.
Neither the loss in Ireland nor the death of Steven Sotloff will go in any recruitment brochures. When the representatives of the university start reaching out to the next wave of juniors and seniors, their first words probably won't be about a football game we almost won or a journalist the world lost. It doesn't matter.
I'll remember it anyway.
I'm willing to bet that a lot of others will, too.