Nova Nation rallies to welcome home champs

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As a few thousand people packed into Villanova’s football stadium to get their first glimpse of their returning heroes, they arrived back on campus knowing their school’s legacy would never be the same.

They’re just college kids, but after Monday night’s NCAA national championship win, the Villanova Wildcats are suddenly Philadelphia celebrities.

Several thousand students, alumni, families and fans of the Wildcats poured onto an open field on the Main Line campus Tuesday evening for a homecoming of sorts.

And now, the modest Main Line Catholic school now has some the hottest merchandise in the nation.

Villanova University gear has been flying off shelves at the campus since early Tuesday morning.

Nova’s bookstore opened early, before 8 a.m. Tuesday, with a line of people at the door wanting their championship shirts, said store manager Ryan Snyder.

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“It’s been full of excitement. As the day’s progressed, it keeps getting busier and busier. Students are starting to now wake up from a hard night of partying,” he said.

The university canceled classes Tuesday after the news of the win.

“Students are starting to now wake up from a hard night of partying, and filter in. Hard-core Villanova-ians were here this morning before daylight,” said Snyder, adding thatthe biggest sellers have been the “Champs” shirts that were worn in Villanova’s locker room Monday night in Houston.

He said store staff had to drive to New Jersey to pick up 5,000 units Tuesday morning from Nike and were driving back early Tuesday afternoon to pick up another 5,000to replenish the stock.

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“We’re working on getting the replenishment to fill our web orders and in-store demand,” said Snyder.

“We have $1.6 million in product coming over the course of today, tomorrow and Thursday … it’s been nonstop ever since we opened our doors this morning. All hands on deck.”

During the day Tuesday, Sen. Bob Casey took to the Senate floor to offer his congratulations to the Wildcats and to tip his hat to head coach Jay Wright’s subtle reaction to the game-winning shot by Kris Jenkins.

“It was a remarkable game for a number of reasons,” said Casey.

“A great coach…also for the way he conducted himself even in the aftermath of a win. We learn a lot about people in victory and defeat, whether that’s in athletics contests or even in politics or in life itself. I thought Jay Wright showed a lot of class in the way he conducted himself after winning, which is not always the case in sports today.”

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