I Really Want To Be Sympathetic, But ...


Scott Nossek, the local physical therapist who does so much fine work helping Payson High athletes and others rehab from injuries, deserves a healthy dose of both empathy and sympathy.

But, I’m not sure I’m the one to provide the benevolence.

Oh, I really highly respect Scott, he’s a very good man, but we have basic dissimilarities.

If Scott were cut, he would bleed Arizona Wildcat red and blue. I, on the other hand, would bleed Arizona State’s maroon and gold.

Experience has taught me it’s best Sun Devil alum don’t go around consoling the enemy — it could backfire.

But, back to Scott — who once pitched for the Wildcat baseball team and earned his degree from the University of Arizona — and why he is in dire straits.

It all began last spring when his very athletic daughter, Maddie, was about to graduate from PHS.

She opted to pass on her father’s alma mater and — gasp — enroll at Arizona State where she next year will be a member of the Sun Devil track and field team.

For a Wildcat as devoted as Scott is, Maddie’s decision to attend ASU had to be a blow.

But wait, it gets worse for Scott.

One afternoon, Maddie delivered a school sports picture to her father to hang in his office at Payson Physical Therapy.

At the bottom of the picture, she inked, “Go Devils!”

Wow, another resounding blow to the Arizona alum. It’s no wonder he’s reeling.

Just when it looked like things couldn’t get any worse, a relative who lives in Prescott, teasingly sent Scott a T-shirt that read, “Sparky laughing ... Wilbur mad.”

The reference was to Maddie passing on Arizona in favor of ASU.

The relative says Scott will only wear the T-shirt at family gatherings — never will he be seen wearing it in public.

“I have not donned the T-shirt,” Scott said. “I’m still trying to come up with a comeback.”

The final blow to Scott’s Arizona allegiance occurs today when he travels to Tempe with Maddie to enroll her in fall classes at ASU.

With all that’s happened, I’ve thought about trying to send a few words of comfort to the wounded Wildcat alum, but every time some of those feelings arise in me for those who have gone to school in Tucson, I take a trip down memory lane. Those recollections usually remind me of why I shouldn’t commiserate with Wilbur’s buddies.

The memories have their roots in about 1963 when I was a sophomore at ASU and enrolled in the Air Force Reserved Officer Training Corps (ROTC).

During rivalry week, which is when ASU and Arizona meet in football for the state’s bragging rights and the Territorial Cup, my ROTC flight was assigned a late night duty guarding a gigantic concrete gold “A” on a campus mountain.

It had to be guarded because each year the “A” becomes a target for Wildcat students to creep up on at night and paint Arizona red.

Our ROTC commander gave us strict orders to be on the lookout for shifty Wildcat culprits because the scoundrels had been known to try all types of tricks and tomfoolery to get to the “A” to paint it that disgusting red.

I believe it was just about midnight and everything on A Mountain seemed buttoned up and in control.

But then my fellow cadets and I caught a glimpse of several attractive coeds hiking up the mountain.

Wow, we thought, this is a rare treat — we’ll soon have some very superb company for what thus far has been a very boring evening.

The coeds strutted, smiled, winked and revealed they were sorority girls and wanted to go to a party at a fraternity house on Alpha Drive.

The girls, politely at first, asked us to escort them to the party.

We declined the invitation — as tempting as it was.

The coeds continued to plead for us to leave the mountain and party down with them.

Those types of requests, from drop-dead gorgeous coeds, are almost impossible for 20-year-old boys to turn down. We were on the edge of abandoning the “A” in favor of partying with our newfound friends, when a fellow cadet scolded, wait a minute, let’s huddle. That’s when we figured out the coeds were not students at ASU, but rather at Arizona. We later learned that on the other side of the mountain that night, there was a group of Wildcat students waiting for us to leave with the coeds. Then, with buckets of paint in hand, their plan was to race to the beloved gold A and paint it Arizona red once we departed our posts in favor of the coeds.

The Cats’ trickery was foiled, but the events of that night taught me to never consort with those charlatans and hooligans from Tucson.

Over the years there have been many other instances that have fueled my misgivings about those from north of Nogales.

What Devils’ disciple can ever forget the 1968 “Ultimatum Bowl” in which Arizona officials strong-armed the Sun Bowl into taking the Wildcats over ASU even though the two rivals had a regular season game to play against one another.

The logic around the state was for the Sun Bowl to take the team that won the game.

But Arizona dictated, “Take us or leave us,” and the Sun Bowl caved in to their demands.

ASU won that game 30-7, but the Wildcats went to El Paso and ASU — accompanied by their steamed fans — went home.

My trip down memory lane also includes a stop in Arizona stadium in the early 1960s.

There, a highly favored ASU football team was upset by Arizona.

To this day, I vividly remember about 50,000 Cat fans standing and cheering for hours, “You choked Tempe, you choked.”

Those cads didn’t even have the respect to call us ASU or Arizona State, but rather “Tempe” as if the university was a high school. The cheer continues to rankle me.

So, as much as I would like to offer my condolences to Scott for what he is going through, I’m hesitant knowing he is as hard core about the Cats as I am rabid about the Devils. Maybe I should let any sympathy that flows Scott’s way be delivered by those who read their news in the Arizona Daily Wildcat, watch basketball in McHale Center and whose two favorite words are “Bear Down.”


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