Monday, March 19, 2012

Happy Endings

By Amanda Ottaway

Dear Everyone,

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 –

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Looking Ahead to the WNIT

By Amanda Ottaway

Thursday, March 8, 2012

It was rough going for a couple of days after we lost to Samford in the semifinals of the Southern Conference tournament. We spent the night in Asheville, so we were able to spend time with our families and watch our men’s semifinal game Sunday night. Our elimination was pretty upsetting, but Samford is an extremely solid, well-coached team. They ended up winning the tournament. So it’s time for us to move on…

Although we didn’t win the conference championship and get an NCAA tournament bid, we do have a place in the Women’s National Invitational Tournament (WNIT), thanks to our regular season championship. So you haven’t seen the last of us yet! The first round starts next week – we’ll either play the 14th, the 15th, or the 16th. But we won’t know our opponent (or the location or date or time) of the game until late, late Monday night the 12th, after the women’s NCAA tournament pairings are announced. We’re confident, though. We know that we underperformed at the SoCon tournament, and that we can get back on track and do well in the WNIT. We’re excited for postseason play!

We had Monday and Tuesday off, and then came back to practice yesterday. Today we practiced and then lifted with Coach Rowan (strength and conditioning coach). We’ll do the same tomorrow. It’s spring break, so there aren’t many people on campus, which is fine with us; we entertain each other pretty well. The highlights of the week have been a trip to Our Town Cinemas, some good Indian food, a Mary-Kate and Ashley movie night, a little shopping, and Shneeka’s flat tire. Sounds like a good spring break to me.

Keep checking for updates about the WNIT! And, of course, send the men’s team your best wishes in the NCAA tournament! Go ‘Cats!!

Peace, perseverance, and March Madness –

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