"While watching the championship game," she said, "I told Eric I would need to consider where this accomplishment ranked compared to other things in my life like having a child, graduating, (and) landing my first job."
Eric, who is Amber's husband, has finished 72nd or worse in five of the last six years. "I think he was offended that I didn't list marrying him as one of my top accomplishments," Amber said.
Of course, the thrill of a Chippens victory cannot really be compared to any Earthly accomplishment. Still, Amber tried: "Some people win the lottery, Olympic medals, or the Oscars," she said. "If I had to compare it to something, I would say my life will be about as wonderful every day as those people feel immediately following their victory."
Amber rode to victory with the help of the Villanova Wildcats. She was one of just three players who correctly picked Villanova to win it all. The other two, D'Vigorous Lover and Maggie May, finished second and third, respectively.
Amber already had the championship won when Villanova beat Oklahoma to reach the final game, but that doesn't mean there was nothing at stake in the finals. Amber's victory there gave her a final tally of 178 points, tied for the 7th best all-time. Her effort was also tied for the third-best championship total ever, and she scored more points than anybody since the high-scoring 2009 season.
Amber said she picked Villanova because she saw they were "visibly not happy" with their second seed, and she "hoped that this distaste for being number two would light a fire under them and make them prove they were second to none."
Villanova did indeed prove to be second to none, and so did Amber, who, like any true Chippens Champion, does not plan on letting her victory go to waste. "Money, strength, and fame may fade away," she said, "but these bragging rights are forever."
Amber reports that she has big plans in store for the Championship T-Shirt. She said she plans on wearing it "nonstop until the 2017 Champion is crowned."
And after that?
"I will have it framed and mounted on the wall on Eric's side of the bed."
Poor Eric. No, not poor Eric. After all, not many people can lay claim to being married to a Chippens Champion.
Congratulations to Amber, a Champion for the ages.
Other Notable Finishes
- Rodney Dawson had his fifth top-21 finish in seven years. His fourth-place finish this year vaulted him into the All-Time Average Place list at #10. Joining him are Blake Roter, who lands at a very impressive #2 in his first year of eligibility, and longtime Challenge savant "Young" Nicholas A. Schultz, who returned to the list at #9. Roter, who finished in sixth place this year after leading through much of the early rounds, now has three top-20 and two top-10 seasons in just five years. Young Nicholas, who is the only player in Challenge history with first and second place finishes to his name, placed a healthy 25th this year.
- On the other end of the spectrum, Gianina Baker debuted on the All-Time Average Place list in 78th place out of a possible 78. She finished second-to-last in 2012 and last in 2011. She relieved Felton Howard of the final position. Felton finished 12th this year, moving him up ten spots to 68th.
- Gianina's record of futility is being seriously challenged however by Kait O'Hare. Kait finished 121 out of 121 in 2014 and 105 out of 105 this year. Kait now joins Travis Rogers (2006, 2007) as the only players in Challenge history with two last-place finishes. Kait becomes eligible for the All-Time list in 2018.
- Congratulations to Chris Schiemann, who in his 10th season finally earned a top-10 finish. He placed 7th this year.
- Bucephalus, heartbroken this year by coming so close to victory only to see his chances snuffed out by Villanova, nonetheless finished a strong 8th place, tying his 2011 campaign as his best ever. He and Pita, who finished 19th, are now tied with Stump for the most top-20 finishes at six each.
- Mike Penney, with his second-place finish this year, now joins Stump, Nicholas A. Schultz, Angela Penney, and Leta Corwin as the only players with two top-three finishes.
- Congrats to Craig Dykes on finishing as this year's top rookie. He finished a strong 16th and, amazingly, still had a shot to win it all with just three games left even though two of his Final 4 picks, Cal and Purdue, lost in the first round. He showed a Rasputin-like ability to stay alive against all odds, much to the torment of Bucephalus, who could often be heard grumbling about "Craig Dykes" when it became clear the Purdue alum stood in the way of Bucephalus's chance at a title.
- There hasn't been much said about Cotter this year, but that must change. The barely-vertebrate, sheet-white assemblage of bodily functions with a face (I mean that affectionately) said before the tournament started that he had learned his lesson and would "not pick teams that start with the letter V." Despite following that horrible advice, he nonetheless had another respectable year, finishing 20th, his fourth top-20 performance. Still, the 2013 Champion dropped a spot in the All-Time Average Place list thanks to the grand entrance of Blake Roter. And, most disturbing for the Albino Gopher, his arch-nemesis Bucephalus is edging closer.
- Jason Jackson, who married a jungle cat, is also moving up the ranks. He earned his fourth top-20 finish, and now ranks 15th on the All-Time Average Place list, only 1.71 points behind Dawson for the 10th spot.
- Adam Lombard also had another great year, finishing 10th. This year marked his fourth time in the top 24 out of the last five years.
- The battle of the Thompsons (7 players over two families with the name) this year went to Pam, who used her new dog, Maggie, as a good luck charm. She finished third, but said, "Maybe she can take it all next year!"
Thanks to all for playing! See you all next year!