The rest of the afternoon passed without incident. I hung out with the rest of the team while the five starters and Dad went to media for an hour. It was fun, if a bit tedious. We couldn’t leave until everyone got back, so we sat around and played a bit of Pictionary. I watched a vicious game of poker between Kaili, Caroline, Tahirah, Lorin, and Jamelle. Instead of chips or money, they bet abdominal crunches. At last tally, I believe JJ has to do about forty of them, but she swore she’d only do ten a day until the season is over.
Thank you’s need to go out to John Altavilla from the Courant for showcasing my blog today. Although I must tell you, my name is spelled Alysa, not Alyssa. You are not the first person to butcher my name, so don’t feel too guilty about it. It’s not nearly as bad as when I get calls from the telemarketer people. “Hello, may I please speak to Geno…Oreenanama?” Um, what?
Today wasn’t nearly as busy as I thought it would be. I got up around 9 and had breakfast with the team, and realized that until 12:15, I’d be free of obligations while the team had study hall (God, I’m so happy I’m not in school anymore). I went to the workout room, which is slightly better than pathetic, and attempted to perfect my physical fitness after a week of refusing to work out because of my illness. I didn’t do too badly.
We practiced at the Arena today instead of the Rider campus so there weren’t any free baskets for me to shoot, so I watched as the girls tried to get eight balls stuck in the basket. Their previous record was seven. After getting the seven in there, Maya grabbed a ball and tried to gently loop it on top of the rest. It turned into a huge deal, with everyone cheering her on. Dad came over and I thought he was going to tell everyone to stop, but instead he started coaching Maya on how to spin the ball so it would stick. “No rotation! If you put no rotation on it it’ll stay!” he cried. Finally, Maya got it to land, and everyone lost their minds, including Pops.
And then practice started, and it was a different matter entirely. Dad wasn’t exactly sunshine and roses today, but he only raised his voice once. The rest of the time, he did things that he’s been doing to me my entire life:
1. He’ll shake his head and throw up his hands, like to say “I have had ENOUGH of this.”
2. He’ll start talking to himself sarcastically, repeating key words. “Yeah, let’s do that. Let’s do that. Let’s do that. Blah, blah blah, blah BLAH.”
3. He complains to Shea, CD, Jamelle, my mom, a brick wall, anyone who will listen. “Can you believe this? How many times do we have to run this? Get her out of there. They refuse to listen. I can’t put up with this crap anymore.”
When those run out, he turns to the secret option number 4: His head explodes.
Then I had about two hours to get ready for dinner (it didn’t take me that long, don’t worry…I’m a girl but not that bad). I wore shoes that really had no business being on my feet, and my ankle is very upset with me right now, but like I said, I’m a girl. I like high shoes.
Dinner was great. There really is nothing better than enjoying a quiet dinner with people that you love.
I think we ruined a lot of people’s hopes for that at the restaurant tonight. We were in a private room watching the Maryland/Louisville game while we ate (my salmon with asparagus was just this side of ridiculous), and I’m pretty sure everyone else dining there just hated us afterward. We were a freakshow. But it was all worth it! I am so happy for Louisville, representing the Big East in the Final Four. Now, let’s get there too so they don’t have all the fun. We were all rooting for the Cardinals, and it didn’t hit me that they’d win until Angel McCoughtry hit that three at the end of the game to put Maryland away for good. I had been saying to everyone after Angel bricked her third three attempt that she would keep shooting them until she made one, and when she did, my dad’s reaction was thus:
“DON’T SHOOT THAT!….*throws up hands* YES!!!”
That was so satisfying to me, even though I wanted us to play Maryland very badly. It would’ve been awesome to get to see Toliver take on Renee. But I guess we’ll never know. Our cheers immediately died down at the sight of Marisa Coleman and Kristi Toliver sobbing on the bench. My heart went out to them. I know exactly what that feels like. Well, not exactly, but an approximation of that heartbreak is something that I’ve felt every couple of Aprils for the past 23 years.
I know I was supposed to talk about the Elite Eights of past and what they meant to me, but this entry has gone on for too long. Today I think I will talk a little bit about the Elite Eight against Virginia in 1995.
My experience watching that game was terrifying. I was nine, and I wasn’t exactly sure what was going on, but knew in my heart that it wasn’t good. I looked up at the clock and realized at halftime that we weren’t winning, something that was foreign and bizarre that season. I was so accustomed to us winning every game that when we were threatened with a loss, my gut reaction was to run off the court into the players lounge and start sobbing. I think my mom came and got me, or a friend. I’m not sure. All I remember is that when we run, I went off like a shotgun to find Dad and I think I almost knocked him off his feet. I was crying hysterically and I think I soaked his shirt. I didn’t care. All I remember is Dad whispering in my ear, “We did it. Can you believe it? We won the game.”
Yes Daddy. We won the game.
We’ve hopefully got three more this year to win. Let’s see how the ball falls…
PS. Another perk when you win the Elite Eight game? The free clothing. I think I still have some of the hats from the Regionals and Final Fours. I don’t think I took off the Minneapolis Championship shirt for five days.
PPS. According to my sister, this blog is ‘fierce.’ I had no idea she even knew how to use that word as an adjective.