Column: I’ve got a disease

Column: I’ve got a disease

Idiagnosed myself the other day with a staggering affliction: I’m suffering from a build-up of intensity and misuse of adrenaline. A lack of competitive sports in my life that is unsatisfied by the casual intramural at the Marino Center.

I call it Post-Matriculation Sports Anxiety (PMSA) and it can be frustrating for any ex-athlete or dedicated fan.

I spend my weekends coaching the Mission Hill Little League, spending time with Boston’s finest nine to 12-year-olds. During one game, the team I was coaching loaded the bases in the first, and the opposing pitcher walked the batter and sent a run home. I was ecstatic. In fact, I was so excited my forehead was covered in sweat. Looking around I noticed that my players had little understanding of what was going on, and that I was in fact the most excited person in the park. A little league game should not be the place of excessive celebration. I know this, but couldn’t control myself – PMSA has a hold of me.

Like so many others, high school graduation marked the end of high-level competitive sports for me. A stint on Northeastern’s lacrosse team was short-lived, and the only arena of intensity left was in intramurals. Mission Hill Little League is not the appropriate venue.

But there are some who have successfully coped with PMSA, and five of them had the opportunity to play in New England’s holy ground of athletics: Fenway Park.

Northeastern students Dan Paredes, Darryl Fuller, Andrew Sullivan, Mark Landaal and Matt Kelly all competed in the “Wiffle Your Way to Fenway,” a wiffleball tournament sponsored by Coca-Cola and the Red Sox on April 27. Whether you’re a wiffleball fanatic, a sports enthusiast or just a New Englander, playing on Fenway’s outfield grass is a priceless experience.

“It was unbelievable to play there,” said Paredes, a senior . “The outfield grass is just so pristine, and being on that field where so many other great players have been is just amazing. It’s just cool to be there.”

Paredes and Andrew Sullivan are on the opposite end of the PMSA spectrum. They’ve learned to harness that enthusiasm and intensity. It’s a gift for these Huskies, not a source of frustration.

The two are esteemed members of the DogHouse, a group of Husky athletic supporters who show an extreme devotion to our men of Matthews Arena. The stadium is like a second home to them, where their love of sport is contagious.

“I’ve always been really enthusiastic about sports,” said Paredes, also known as “Cowboy Dan.” “I’ve always been really enthusiastic about my certain teams and enjoying the competitions and the adrenaline rush.”

“I’ve always been going to games,” said recent graduate Andrew Sullivan. “My dad played for Northeastern, and I went to games here in high school.”

A hockey and lacrosse player in high school, Sullivan didn’t find what he was looking for in intramural sports.

“You don’t have the same intensity, you’re playing and you want to win,” Sullivan said. “It doesn’t matter whether you win or lose because it’s still intramural sports. I guess going to games has been the [competitive] outlet, because that did matter.”

The purpose here is not to degrade intramural sports, which is a wonderful system for fellow students to compete against another. However, students with PMSA crave a higher level of competition, and playing wiffleball in Fenway Park is just what the doctor ordered.

“It was such an adrenaline rush to be playing other schools, such as Boston College or MIT,” Paredes said. “Just to play with my team, and having a good time and being supportive of each other and motivating each other was really great.”

There’s a part of me that thinks I couldn’t handle playing in a major league ballpark. That I would be too much like a child on Christmas morning and my psyche wouldn’t be able to handle the emotions of the sun, field and green monster backdrop. These five, however, were just the group of guys able to overcome their PMSA and remain calm.

“Everyone we played with are very close with one another,” Sullivan said. “We were a real goofy team, the loud team, who was yelling at the tour groups who were walking around the park.”

Goofiness is a quality I wish more sports fans had. To love a game or sport to the point of insanity is not healthy, but to love it while being able to remember the other intricacies of life is more important. Maybe that’s the cure I’ve been looking for.

– Matt Foster can be reached at [email protected]

Leave a Reply