Being there as Kim Anderson fulfilled his vision was special

04/01/2014 4:58 PM

04/01/2014 4:58 PM

Chances are you never saw the 1985 movie “Vision Quest.”

I remember it well, partly because I saw it a few days after I’d quit my first job back in Philadelphia and my roommate got laid off a day later and one day we needed a diversion from looking for jobs all day.

So we want to a matinee, since it was all we could afford. We were the only two people in the theater when the film started.

Loved the movie, which I’m not sure stands the test of time.

But one scene has held up for me ever since.

(Warning: some language not acceptable for children).

It starts with Matthew Modine’s character, high school wrestler Louden Swain, being puzzled over why crusty, crude Elmo, with whom he works in a kitchen, is taking a night off and getting dressed up.

It was, of course, to see Louden wrestle against the best but also to bear witness to this momentous event in his life.

For some reason, I’ve been thinking about that scene a lot (minus the graphic language I’d forgotten was part of it) since I was privileged to be in Evansville, Ind., to watch Kim Anderson’s University of Central Missouri Mules play for the national title Saturday against West Liberty.

This isn’t a perfect parallel, of course, just something that connected with me and maybe isn’t explainable. But that’s what blogs are for, right?

I’ve known Anderson for more than 20 years and his wife, Melissa, almost as long, going back to Missouri’s 1995 exhibition tour of Australia. They were all stuck with me as the only reporter in the traveling party, so I ate with the team, stayed with the team, went to the Great Barrier Reef with the team, etc. Great experience on many levels.

Along the way, Anderson took the helm a couple times and perhaps restored some order when head coach Norm Stewart was kicked out of two games.

(It might sound like the volatile Stewart was an international incident waiting to happen, but he was legitimately concerned about the safety of his players each time. Which I guess is why one time he refused to leave, citing the fact “I’m a visitor in your country.”)

Anyway, Anderson was then, remains and always will be a calming, kind and authentic person. He’s someone you’re always glad to see coming.

He’s also very good at his work, as the crowning achievement amplified Saturday.

All of which is a bit of why I wanted to drive 400-plus miles, clean up and put on my new sports coat and bear witness to his moment — “a better place to be, if only for a minute,” for the rest of us.

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