SAN DIEGO — When the Arizona Wildcats are in a tight game, Mary Louise Roberson gets a two-word text message from her daughter.
It reads: “Breathe, mom.”
Hey, these games are stressful for everybody. Even in San Diego, this isn’t a day at the beach.
Roberson, who has been attending UA games since 1963 in Bear Down Gym with her husband, Walter, was in the Viejas Arena stands on Sunday night for Arizona’s round of 32 game against Gonzaga.
Where else would she be?
After all, this is a lady who attended ever Final Four held between 1988 to 2005. Roberson, 80, lives for these games — or the completion of them, anyway.
“The games are so stressful, I’m always happy when they’re over,” Roberson said.
She didn’t have much to worry about Sunday night in the UA’s blowout win over the Bulldogs. The Wildcats did what top seeds are supposed to do in the tournament: outplay, outjump and outclass their opponents. The Sweet 16, which figures to be more competitive, starts Thursday in Anaheim, Calif.
“I don’t get nearly as stressed as she does,” Walter said. “This is a wonderful team and they’re so unselfish and athletic that I think it’s pretty fun to watch them.”
Walter, 83, moved to Tucson in 1960 and attended the UA. He hoped to be a member of Arizona’s baseball team, but, “I wasn’t good enough for that.”
Instead, he developed a love affair with the basketball team. He and Mary Louise bought tickets in the upper balcony of Bear Down Gym, then followed the team to McKale Center. Together, they’ve attended every Final Four the Wildcats have played in.
On Sunday afternoon, the Robersons were at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in downtown San Diego to see the Wildcats off before their game against Gonzaga.
They were supposed to fly home with the team after the game as part of a group of fans that bought tickets through the university. But that plan was scrapped.
Since the Arizona team plane couldn’t take off from the Lindbergh Field late Sunday night because of a city noise ordinance, the Robersons and a handful of other Wildcat fans bused back after the game and were to arrive back in Tucson before sunrise.
The team took a smaller plane out of a different airfield.
“I’m not that worried,” Walter said. “When you’re as old as me, you don’t need as much sleep as people think. Plus, I’ll sleep on the bus.”
The Robersons, who will now travel to Anaheim for the Sweet 16, were joined at the Hyatt on Sunday by friend Lowell Rothschild. Rothschild, 86, has lived in Tucson for 70 years since enrolling at the UA in 1946.
“It’s always a lot of fun following this team,” Rothschild said. “This year has been one of the best.”
Las Vegas residents Cisco Aguilar and Megan Dode boarded a plane Sunday morning at 10:30 bound for San Diego.
They took in the UA’s win at Viejas Arena and flew back to Sin City at 10:10 p.m.
We know what you’re thinking — what a rough life.
“It’s not bad,” Aguilar said, smiling.
Aguilar, who holds undergraduate and law degrees from the UA, has a couple of pretty sweet gigs. He serves as the general counsel for Agassi Graf Holdings. Yeah, that’s Tennis Hall of Famers Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf.
He’s also the chairman of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, which regulates and oversees all boxing and UFC bouts in the state of Nevada.
Aguilar has season tickets for Arizona football and basketball and attends most games, unless there’s a fight in Las Vegas he has to attend.
Like the Robersons, he’ll be in Anaheim this week and hopes a trip to Texas is in the offing for the Final Four.
“It’s an exciting team,” Aguilar said. “I’m glad I can take it all in.”
Tempe native Ben Suber always has one goal when he attends Arizona basketball games.
“To lose my voice,” Suber, 27, said, “without annoying the people around me too much.”
He’s also developed a bit of a reputation. The UA graduate used to plaster as many “Bear Down” stickers on himself as possible before he went to football games. Once there, he would pass out more to his fellow Zona Zoo members.
On Sunday, he drove from his home in Woodland Hills, Calif., to be at the UA-Gonzaga game. He bought a ticket on a third-party website for more than $200.
Suber wore a red Ooh Aah Man shirt covered with 10 “Bear Down and beat the Bulldogs” stickers.
Oh, and for the whole Tempe native thing. Picking the UA over ASU was a pretty easy choice.
“I wanted to go to the school with the better academic reputation,” Suber said. “So I chose Arizona.”