Win or Lose, They’re Always Blue and Gold
Cathi and Rob Eberly, ’70, admit they’re enjoying Kent State University’s run to the NCAA Tournament, but they also chuckle that they’ve seen “a lot of bad basketball over the years.”
Season ticket holders for 40-45 years (there’s still debate over the first year the couple got tickets), they have cheered on the Golden Flashes through the tough years and now through an era of winning.
“When our daughter was younger, we started going to basketball games together and (sitting with some friends),” Rob said. “We built a relationship with the basketball program, and it just kept going. And now, we’ve sat in the front row in the MAC Center for nearly 45 years.”
Rob and Cathi are among quite a few longtime fans who have made the trip to Albany, New York, for the team’s showdown with Indiana University in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. They’ve traveled five times this year to see both the men’s team and the women’s team during their games in Oklahoma and Arkansas.
Both agree that the men’s team that will be taking the court on the national stage is special.
“They’re so much fun to watch,” Cathi said about the current team. “The energy. They’re like glue. You can tell they’re tight and they like each other. We’re used to seeing kids play for four years, but that doesn’t always happen anymore. To see someone come in (via the transfer portal) and buy into the system and be 100% in, it’s a special team.”
The team’s matchup with Indiana brings back memories, as Rob and Cathi were present when the two teams squared off in back-to-back tournaments. This included their clash in the Elite Eight.
“We made the journey in 2002,” Rob said. “To Greenville and saw the games there and then Lexington and saw the games there. And that Elite Eight night when the whole state of Indiana emptied into half of Rupp Arena.”
“Those ugly red-and-white striped pants (that the Hoosiers wear) that give me heartburn every time I see them (laughing),” Cathi said with a chuckle.
But after 40+ years, which memory ranks at the top for Rob and Cathi? It's not the 2002 run to the Elite Eight. Listen as they tell the story themselves as they were there:
“They have such a passion for the institution,” said Kent State President Todd Diacon. “It’s not a passion that only exists if we’re NCAA champions but also in all that we do. It’s just a great reminder of the impact we have on people's lives and makes me very proud to be president of Kent State University.”
Cathi and Rob both say they feel confident the Golden Flashes can go toe-to-toe with the Hoosiers, but win or lose, they’ll continue to support the blue and gold with all their hearts because these teams are special.
“The way they play for one another; the way they like one another. Those are really special super important things,” Rob said. “We really resonate with that. This is a special group of young men, and on the women’s side, a special group of young women.”
Cathi agrees. “The whole coaching staff. We have so many guys that played at Kent, and they know. They know the system,” she said. "They know the family that keeps them so tight. We give (head coach) Rob (Senderoff) a lot of credit.”