NEW YORK — Eric May took hundreds of trips with his parents over the years, and each one has its own story.
Mostly the Iowa senior remembers the small moments with his parents but he also recalls the incidents that make him laugh.
“The most would be them arguing over directions,” May said. “My dad having to pull over and switch drivers. I’ve been on a lot of car rides with them. I know how it goes.
“I think my dad and I have the same sense of direction, which is nothing. And you can’t use a GPS. I’m throwing him under the bus a little bit. They don’t complain about any of the drives.”
As May approaches his final week as a college basketball player, he appreciates their sacrifices more than he did as a youth. They show up at nearly every game from Cancun to New York, Madison to Ann Arbor. Some are flights, some are drives. But most important to May, they’re there.
“I think every time I talk to them after the game they’re there to comfort me and in a good mood,” May said. “I’m taking the 45-minute flight when they’re driving six hours. They just do it and do it out of love and just to be a part of it.”
Eric’s father, Bill, said he travels to support his son. That brings him more enjoyment than watching the game on television.
“Don’t feel sorry for me. I enjoyed every minute of it,” Bill May said. “It was our family vacation a lot of times. It was my wife and I spending a little time together because we have six kids. Being able to go to these things just the two of us gave us a little time to reconnect with each other.”
May’s experiences hardly are unique. Many players’ parents shell out significant money and time to travel the Midwest and beyond to sit in the stands and cheer their sons regardless of the outcome.
Roy Marble arrived in New York hours before Iowa’s game Tuesday night against Maryland. He met with school supporters at a local I-Club rally that drew hundreds of people. He was unsure he could make the trip because he recently started his job at Hybrid Transit Systems Inc. But company officials stepped in and told him he needed to go to New York, even without enough accrued vacation time.
“Basically, they said, ‘Are you kidding me? You have to go,’” Marble said. “They said, ‘This is the Mecca. You’ve got to go.’”
Cedar Falls native Kyle Denning turned down Division III schools to walk on at Iowa. Although Denning plays sparingly — 22 minutes in 11 games — his parents, Laurie and Brent, travel to most games.
“We believe if they put in the time and effort the least we can do as parents is support them,” Laurie Denning said.
The players — from Eric May to Zach McCabe — said the feeling is mutual.“That’s a comforting thing to see your parents there, to know that you have at least two fans in the crowd that are on your side of the ring,” May said.