US Wealth Napolitano |

By: Tom Schulte, CFP®

As I put pen to paper (or finger to key) on this Thursday morning, I find myself filled with mixed emotions, though none stronger than that of betrayal. In a mere thirty six hours, my beloved Syracuse University Orange basketball team is set to play the San Diego State University Aztecs in the first round of the NCAA March Madness tournament. “Why such a burden?” you may ask. Khrista, my beloved girlfriend is an SDSU alum and bigtime fan of their basketball program (she was in school during Kawhi Leonard’s recording breaking days). To give you a sense of her tenacity as it relates to her Southern California sports allegiance, she shamelessly led ‘Let’s Go Dodgers’ chants at Fenway in July 2019. For anyone that remembers that game, those Dodgers chants became deafening as the Red Sox got shelled. But I digress—my feelings are mixed because these two basketball programs, SU & SDSU, have given us some special times together. We like to think one in particular had a little sprinkle of destiny/fate—whatever you’d like to call it.

I could write at length about our ‘story’ of finding each other (I swear it’s a good one) up to this point, but for time’s sake, the cliff notes reads as thus: in February 2015, a 21 year old man-child from Syracuse liquidated his Spring Break savings on a gamble to visit a girl from San Diego that stole his heart while studying in Spain after fourteen months of being apart. There. I said it. The trip to see her in San Diego was wonderful. We visited the Zoo, relaxed at Pacific Beach, hiked Torrey Pines, but the grand finale was attending a SDSU basketball game on her school’s beautiful campus.

We were relying on a friend of a friend to pass along their unused tickets, however the closer it came to tipoff, it became more and more evident that this person wouldn’t be coming through and that we would be without tickets for a sold out, scalper-less game. We helplessly circled the arena trying to figure out what to do, while coming to terms that we were likely out of luck on our final day together.

On our fourth or fifth pass around the arena we noticed that an older couple seemed to be following us from a distance. When we turned around and made eye contact, they began to approach us, hand-in-hand with smiles stamped across their faces. “You need these tickets,” they said insistently as the man reached into his pocket, pulling out two tickets and forcing them into my hand. In utter shock, we begged to pay them, but they waved their hands no, smiled and walked off away from the arena. We were dumbfounded, but ran towards the doors to take a seat before the game started. Even more strange is that the tickets they gave us were in the student section, which is exactly where we wanted and had planned to be. There’s no clear answer for why an older couple would have tickets in a section only sold to students, but I surely can’t complain.

Post-Weekend Update: Not only did my Syracuse Orange emerge victorious late Friday night against the heavily favored Aztecs, they went on to beat the Mountaineers of the University of West Virginia Sunday to secure a spot in the Sweet Sixteen. And although Khrista showed no mercy Friday night, she was wearing her Syracuse crewneck in support on Sunday. She must really like me.