Big production comes from small towns

By Marc Knutila published October 18, 2006

At most universities, the start of basketball season is an exciting time. UCCS is no exception as far as excitement is concerned. And fans will have the opportunity to display their excitement for the men's and women's basketball teams at the "Moonlight Madness" celebration Thursday at 8:30 p.m. at the Lions' Den.

Although the "Moonlight Madness" will not be to the scale of basketball-rich Division I programs like Indiana and Kentucky where upwards of 20,000 fans attend, it will still be a great opportunity for Mountain Lions fans to get their first look at the re-tooled menâ€TMs basketball team under new coach Russ Caton.

In fact, being smaller in numbers, as "Moonlight Madness" will be in comparison to Division I programs, is a common thread for the men's basketball team. Two of the Mountain Lions are actually from towns that total combined population is barely 600.

The smallest of which is the hometown of senior Bly McGuire who hails from Elbert, Colo., with a population of around 150. Yes, 150 people. The whole town could go and eat at a Denny's with room to spare.

But there is more to the madness.

"There were 16 kids in my graduating class," McGuire admitted.

I can just imagine:

"Honey, who are you going to invite to your graduation party?"

"I was thinking about the whole town!"

In reality, however, McGuire enjoyed growing up in a small town. He even said that he would think about going to a small town to raise a family. But he knows that his kids would have a different type of childhood. A typical Friday night in Elbert resembles the excitement of a church service, rather than a night club.

"There was not a whole lot," he admitted.

So what exactly would he do on a Friday night?

"[We would] go eat out," McGuire said. Denny's eat your heart out.

But one interesting thing about growing up in Elbert was that McGuire believes it played a major role in him becoming a good basketball player.

"Growing up, there was nothing else to do but play sports."

That sentiment was echoed by McGuire's teammate, sophomore Bryan Snyder, who grew up in a metropolis compared to Elbert, in Simla, Colo., whose population is an eye-popping 450 people.

"I would still be playing basketball if I grew up in a bigger town, but I wouldn't be as good as I am now," Snyder explained.

He credits sheer boredom.

"It was either play sports, or do nothing," he replied.

Just like McGuire's hometown, Snyder's hometown had no stoplights and just one main street.

However, the similarities end there. Snyder's graduation class was a staggering 25% larger than McGuire's: a whopping 21 kids.

I can just imagine:

"Honey, who are you going to invite to your graduation party?"

"I was thinking the whole town, but who am I kidding, this isn't Elbert! Let's just go with my entire school instead."

Interestingly, Snyder, like McGuire, also enjoyed his childhood where he admitted there was nothing to do. It seems there is something charming about living in a town where you literally know every single person.

"I would like to live out where I did [when I get older]," Snyder replied.

We are in a time and place where the world is growing at an exponential rate. The United States just surpassed 300 million people on Tuesday. And still, with all of the options and glamour cities in the United States, it's refreshing to see that there are still some good 'ol boys who enjoy the serenity of towns that you could miss in the blink of an eye.

On October 14, the University of Kentucky had a crowd of 23,312 people attend their "Big Blue Madness" (equivalent to Moonlight Madness). The Moonlight Madness at UCCS will have an attendance significantly smaller, but if we've learned anything from McGuire and Snyderâ€TMs we will appreciate what we have here at UCCS. Clearly, numbers aren't everything.

Just ask two of the rising stars from Elbert or Simla, Colorado.


UCCS Players/Staff Featured

Bly McGuireBly McGuire33CSr.
Bly McGuireBly McGuire33CSr.
Bryan SnyderBryan Snyder54FSo.
Bryan SnyderBryan Snyder54FSo.
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