After 25 years as "the old women in the rafters," Golden State Warriors fans Rosemarie Chonzena and Marian Ours finally moved up in the world.
By moving down.
Best friends Chonzena and Ours -- both 76 ("as old as the Golden Gate Bridge," Chonzena says) -- have been steady Warriors season ticket holders since 1988, always renewing their seats at the very last tippy-top row waaaay the heck up there in Section 208 at Oracle Arena, where Sherpas provide assistance instead of ushers and there is long-standing lore about oxygen masks dropping from the ceiling.
So it was a big thrill at a big game Thursday night -- the Warriors' playoff series-clinching 92-88 win over the Denver Nuggets -- when the team treated the retired math teachers who live in the same retirement complex in Vacaville to a much better view, moving them down to the 27th row of the lower bowl in Section 124. Just for the night.
"We were certainly excited that they did this for us," Ours said. "They called Rosemarie, and then she called me and left me two messages. We couldn't wait!"
The two usually sit, well ¿-- "see that Oracle ad up there?" Ours said, squinting into the distance and pointing to the roof. "We sit on the right of it in the last row. You don't have a good view of the scoreboard because of the way it's tilted, but we don't mind."
"And when the crowd roars, you can't hear one whistle or announcement," Chonzena added, raising her voice over intense booing-then-cheering as something bad-then-good happened on the court. "It's like watching TV with the mute button on. But we don't mind."
Warriors communications director Lisa Goodwin said the team likes to reward its dedicated fans whenever possible. "So we thought it would be fun to move the ladies down to the lower bowl for tonight's game -- closer to the action," she said.
And they got plenty of that. It was one of the most nail-biting finishes ever, and a collective roar of relief rose up as the golden confetti finally dropped in a snowstorm of sunshine on the nearly 20,000 fans. The win means the Warriors advance to the next round of the NBA playoffs, taking on the San Antonio Spurs.
Chonzena had been twirling her rally towel above her head in helicopter fashion all night -- so fast, it was possible she might have become airborne.
While Chonzena is a little more boisterous than the soft-spoken Ours, these two are not your typical crazed sports fans. Former math teachers are a little more logical. Oh, they have their Bobblehead collections and pennants and signed photos, but they shun superstitions and pre-game rituals. They don't go out into the concourse at halftime for food or beverages. "We have dinner on the drive down," Chonzena said. At the same restaurant each time? "No," she said. "Usually some place we have coupons for."
Both women are originally from the East -- Ours is from West Virginia, and Chonzena from Ohio. They've always loved sports (when it comes to baseball and football, they're -- shhh -- Pittsburgh fans), and they got hooked on the Warriors while teaching at Walters Junior High in Fremont, which is, coincidentally, "The Home of the Warriors." Different Warriors, though. Shorter.
Since then, they've been through the ups and downs -- mostly downs, until now -- with the team. They've seen every iteration and the eventual disappearance of Thunder the mascot. They loved the Weekend Warriors, the big tubby guys who used to shake what their mamas gave 'em during timeouts.
And through it all, they've lived the high life up in Section 208. They'll return to their old seats for the second round, and -- they hope -- on to the conference finals.
"We love it up there," Chonzena said. "We have so many wonderful friends in that section. We're known as 'the old women in the last row.' We don't want to change that now."
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