From the image of Kellen Winslow being helped off the field in a Chargers playoff game to Muhammed Ali’s snear after knocking out Sonny Liston, every iconic sports moment seems to have an equally iconic photo. For Robert Morris’ incredible victory over Kentucky, the tweeted picture of Kait Miles at the center of the celebration wearing a red sports bra helps turn the game from upset to legend.
As with any legendary image, there is more to the story.
Had it not been for a bad loss in the SEC Tournament, Kentucky might not have even played in the NIT. Had it not been for a scheduling conflict with the NCAA tournament game at Kentucky’s Rupp Arena, UK would not have had to play at Robert Morris in the first round of the NIT. That fortunate series of events set up arguably the biggest home game in school history for the Colonials.
RMU’s fans were ready to respond.
Miles said the campus was energized like never before leading up to the game. It seemed that the entirety of the 4,000-person student body was at the game, creating a line that wrapped around the 3,506-seat Charles L. Sewall Center.
“It was electric. I felt like I went to a huge school,” Miles said. “It felt like we were playing in the freakin’ championship.”
Miles said the close-nit student body, where many of the athletes live in typical dorms like the rest of the students, boosted the basketball team’s energy. With nearly the whole school decked out in red, it became obvious after the Colonials jumped out to an early 10-point lead just how big a factor the home energy was for the underdogs.
After their team survived a last-ditch comeback attempt, the student’s energy reached its crescendo with an epic court-storming.
“I literally thought I was going to die” said Miles, who was standing in the front row of the stadium.
Miles survived the stampede, but she said some computer equipment may not have been so lucky. However, in the massive red mosh pit, there wasn’t time to mourn lost electronics. Seconds after the final horn, the student body was jumping up and down on the court chanting “R!M!U!, R!M!U!”
“It was crazy,” Miles said. “It was like vibrating.”
Looking to avoid being stomped-on, Miles said she asked “a big guy in front of me”, who turned out to be a complete stranger, in the middle of the horde if she could jump on his back. He let her and together they made their way to the center of the celebration.
That allowed Miles to stand out in the crowd and become a centerpiece of the post-victory photo. As for Miles and the sports bra, it turned out to be a bit different than Brandi Chastain’s World Cup-winning moment back in 1999.
Miles said she and two friends wearing sports bras painted ‘R’, ‘M’ and ‘U’, respectively, on their stomachs. After two hours of hugs and jumping, the paint wore off in the crowd.
“It looked like I took my shirt off but I promise you I was painted,” Miles said.
Even with all the hype, Miles said the real celebration won’t hit until later this weekend. Following a weekend where RMU students can celebrate without the hindrance of class, the Colonials travel for their next game in the NIT tournament, a Monday night game at Providence. Though on paper a second-round game may be more important, it will be hard to top what happened Tuesday night in Moon Township, Pennsylvania.
“There was nothing like what happened that night,” Miles said.
Here is how one of her best friends reacted to it at the time:
— Amy Ostrander (@AmyOstrander2) March 20, 2013
And in case those of you may have forgotten who the original bra-celebrator was, here’s Brandi Chastain’s goal and subsequent celebration: