Schaumburg, Illinois. 1999. It was the Lutheran Sports Association state basketball tournament and Holy Cross Elementary was led by yours truly #21 (Mr. Defense). After a double upset against Good Shepherd and Trinity Edwardsville to win the conference championship, we were now seeded 16th and set to play #1 Rockford Lutheran in the first round at state.
We lost by 30+ points.
Why does any of this matter?? Because Cake's "The Distance" — the second to track to my very first CD — was my pre-game jam throughout the whole season. It would have been playing through my Beats headphones if Beats existed in 1999. It did, however, play through my Sony Discman with SEVEN seconds of skip protection. The difficult choice of my first CD came down to Cake's "Fashion Nugget" and The Verve Pipe's "Villains" — known for its one-hit-wonder "The Freshmen." The latter would have been a terrible pre-game ritual.
Yeah, we got blown out at state, SO WHAT? At least I got to warm up to this sick kind-of-rap-but-not-really-rock jam. It may say "rock" in the categories below, but "Fashion Nugget" was an album that truly defied genre. To this day, "The Distance" is still part of my running playlist.
Fun fact: The school that did win state that year was Concordia Peoria, led by then-seventh grader Shaun Livingston who now plays for the Golden State Warriors.