By Amanda Ottaway
I think I have to write a conclusion now. But how do you approach the end of something when that something has taken ninety percent of your energies for over a decade? How do you write about people who have so profoundly impacted your existence that you’re not sure you would have made it through college without them? How do you put into words an experience that will shape the rest of your life?
For starters, I guess I could explain the circumstances. We traveled to Harrisonburg, Virginia last Wednesday for our first-round WNIT game Thursday at James Madison. For those concerned by my Facebook status Wednesday night: Yes, the hotel elevator broke while all 14 of us were on it after a nighttime film session. Yes, the the limit is five people, although we were unaware of this at the time. Yes, some of us panicked (cough – Shneeka). Yes, we took the dire step of instructing each other to stop talking in order to conserve oxygen. Yes, we were stuck for approximately seven minutes.
Unlike the elevator story, which ends with survival, the story of our game concluded unhappily. JMU has a good team, but I’ll be the first to say that they were beatable. We stayed with them almost the whole game. Eventually, though, we hit a drought and couldn’t score, and they capitalized on their home-court advantage. The final was 64-49, which sounds worse than it was.
Not many teams get to end their seasons on a win, and I am still so proud of everything we’ve accomplished this year. Being the first regular-season champions in school history is nothing to moan about. Plus, we had fun. Even when things were tough – which they often were; I can’t sugarcoat everything and the life of any Division I athlete poses its share of problems – the team made the most of it. That’s what teams are for. So that’s what I take from my experience here. Twenty years from now, I won’t remember who beat us. I definitely won’t remember our record. I might not even remember that we hung a banner. I’ll have long forgotten the hours in the training room and running sprints on the football field and doing homework on the bus. But I will be able to call up Kat, Shannon, Shneeka, Laura, KJ, Barb, Hannah, Mason, Sarah, Hannah, Jazz, Soph, or Mel, and tell them Aunt Otto wants to baby-sit. I’ll take their kids out to the driveway and pit them against my kids in a healthy game of Horse. Then we’ll sit around and drink lemonade and laugh about the time the Wildcats got stuck in the elevator at the Holiday Inn. And they’ll say, “Mom, you’re silly. That doesn’t sound fun at all!” And I’ll assure them that it was the best time of my life.
Peace, love, and happy endings –