These nine girls go to six or seven different schools (public, private and homeschool) and live in many different neighborhoods. To my knowledge, not a single girl attends Church of the Holy Communion, which sponsored the team. Half of them had never even played basketball before. But together, they won 9 basketball games and finished the season undefeated.
There is something very Memphis about how a group of girls—black and white, from Midtown to Cordova—worked together and did something they will never forget. Some games were blowouts; some were nailbiters. Everyone contributed. When it came time to name their team, they chose the Grizzlies, because that’s how Memphis girls roll.
Of course, a great deal of credit must be given to their excellent coach, who used his 1 hour a week of practice time to teach fundamentals, build camaraderie among the girls, and inspire a love for the game. Even when we had another commitment, Lexi never wanted to miss a minute.
Thank you, Memphis, for this sweet memory and for an amazing first season of basketball for Lexi. Maybe we will be sitting in the stands of a varsity game someday, telling this story about one of the reasons Lexi fell in love with the game. She’s a Tar Heel born and bred, but she learned to play in the city of grit and grind.
We broke down and got cable over the weekend, to watch the Olympics. It got me thinking about the lengths we go to watch and the joy we get from the games themselves. There is something magical about the smile of a 17-year-old girl in pearl earrings who just swam faster than any other woman in the world. It’s the same magic as young adults beating their heroes and of parents in the stands with so much pride it seems to be seeping out their pores.
There is magic, too, in seeing a world focused on sports that usually ignore. We rekindle a love for gymnastics or diving or swimming and remember fleeting moments in our past, whether our own attempts at glory or Olympics of the past. I will never watch a woman vault without remembering Kerri Strug and her amazing second vault (I know, we would have won without it, but it was still magical.)
Most Olympians will never be Michael Phelps. They will never earn a medal, let alone a fortune. They compete because they love their sport. And there is something to be learned from them and their stories, even if NBC has the obnoxious tendency of exploiting them*. They have trained so hard and given so much just to be there.
I love watching the camaraderie between athletes, both teammates and rivals, who appreciate each others talents and cheer others on to excellence. I love knowing that for two weeks, all around the world, there are people who are watching, cheering and caring.
I love seeing my children discover these things for themselves. They find new heroes and new sports to try. I love that watching makes them “Olympic dreamers” as Lexi aptly described. It is good for a child to be a dreamer and to recognize talent and hard work. I don’t want my children to grow up to be Olympians, but I hope they grow up to do their very best. I hope that Missy Freeman and company inspire them to do that, like FloJo and Jackie Joyner-Kersee once did for me.
* It is crazy how bad NBC is getting. Can we get Google or the BBC or something instead? I am so tired of them using the tape delay to build drama in editing. It is out of control. I don’t think we can last through 2020 with them. Also, Bob Costas is looking really scary. The plastic surgery and botox is not a good look for him.
This post is about basketball. You have been warned. Commencing obsessive fan mode:
I teared up a little when I watched Kendall Marshall address reporters last night and while I read Adam Lucas’ column when I should have been sleeping. I wasn’t mourning because the likelihood that this team will hang a national championship banner from the rafters is much slimmer now than it was 24 hours ago. I was sad for Kendall, a fantastic player and from all accounts, a really nice kid. Marshall, like so many before him, embodies the class that makes Carolina basketball. The Carolina Way is real, and it creates a team-first atmosphere that attracts players we are proud of.
Considering the NCAA sanctions against UNC’s football team that were handed down last week, that may seem a little naive. The expectation when Butch Davis was hired was that we would get much better, very quickly, and that’s not an easy burden for any team to carry. The size of a football team also makes it more difficult to execute Dean Smith style recruiting, getting the players who fit the philosophy the best, rather than just the best players available. There were certainly individuals who did wrong (both players and staff.) But as an institution UNC handled what came to light with grace and humility, and that’s the Carolina way, too. Hopefully we’ll learn something from the whole mess.
I’m obviously very proud to be a Tar Heel. And that’s not going to change even if we lose next weekend. I may shudder at the thought that State (STATE!) might even be the ones who knock us out. (May God grant us His favor that this not come to pass.) We’ve lived through worse as fans, like the 8-20 season I endured as a student. Be sad for Kendall, but don’t be sad for Carolina fans. We’ve always got a new recruit class to look forward to and the promise of another run at the Championship.
In being sad for Kendall, it is natural to have a little righteous indignation at the dirty play that is getting far too common in the NCAA. Let’s push for better officiating and for teams to stop promoting thuggery. And while we’re at it, we should also take a stand against the flop and all who encourage it. (I’m looking at you, Coach K.)
Wish I were on Franklin Street celebrating tonight. Congratulations, Tar Heels! And congratulations to Reba, who won the TCL annual pool, and continued the girls’ winning streak.
Amber, Ellen and I have each won and Dawn has bested us all twice. That’s right, five years and not one male victor. Will female wiles triumph again?
I have tried to get ESPN Tournament Challenge to work for me at least 6 times over the last 24 hours on two computers to no avail, and I don’t have the time to keep messing with it. So, this year’s pool will be hosted on facebook. Yes, it’s an app you have to install, I hate those too. You can delete it once the tournament is over!
Best of luck to all prognosticators and Go Tar Heels!
The glory of the 2008 TCL NCAA Tournament pool goes to Ellen. Congratulations!
Here’s a link to our annual NCAA tournament challenge group. The password is “tclmadness”
We’re having a good holy week but I need to get my dresses finished!
So, yesterday when out and about I noticed Tyler Hansbrough on the cover of USA Today, announcing that the Heels are the preseason #1 pick. I have mixed feelings about this. Of course, it’s good to know that others recognize that we have a great team, that we could do great things, but starting out at #1 means there’s no where to go but down. And that makes me nervous. I predict we won’t retain the ranking through January. And that’s okay, because rankings aren’t THAT important. But, we’re going to win the national championship in the end.
Did anyone see the classy gesture made by USC coach Pete Carroll in the middle of the first quarter against Idaho? Continue reading
Congratulations to Amber for winning the pool!
And congratulations to the Gators.Â Many thanks for replacing dook as the answer to the trivia question, “Who was the last team to win back-to-back NCAA championships in men’s basketball?”