If there is anything I've learned of my time being at Wagner, it is that patience is a virtue. Last Tuesday, I was fortunate enough to have gone to the 3rd annual NEC Basketball Social Media Day at the 40/40 club at the Barclays Center. It was an extraordinary event! Basically, for the last three years, the NEC has held a preseason gathering for all NEC basketball teams. It is required for each coach in the conference--both men and women's basketball teams--to bring one player from their team to enjoy the spotlight for the day. That was me! My coach asked me to come and I was very grateful for the opportunity. Everyone was dolled up. It was weird seeing the players and coaches outside the gym.
There was a red carpet once you arrived and people there to take your picture. I felt like a celebrity. Everyone knew who I was and I knew who everyone was. For the most part, I have played against these girls throughout the last three years. For the most part, I have watched our men's team play the guys who were there also. So, we were all familiar with each other. I was surrounded with the best of the best players of the conference. I was introduced to important and distinguished people of NEC headquarters.
It was weird being cordial with these girls because I considered them the "enemy." They know me and I know them. They probably hated me because I blocked all their shots, but that's okay. For one day and one day only, we were "friends." When I see them again, we won't be friends. But there's one thing for sure...as much as I considered them the enemy, I respected each female player there. They are also D1 basketball players. They sacrifice their bodies like I do. They have to run to class after long practices like I have to. They complain about the struggles of being an athlete like I do. Despite all that, we love basketball and we all want that NEC Championship. We all have the same goal and that is to be the best in the conference. Those girls stand in my way of what I believe is rightfully Wagner's this year.
For the first time in over 10 years, the women's program here at Wagner was ranked 4th for the upcoming season. That means that we are picked to finish the season 4th out of 10 teams in the conference. When I first came to Wagner, we were ranked 11th. My sophomore year and junior year, we were ranked 10th. No one believed in our program, and I don't blame them. However, last year, we changed the program and culture of the team. We became a threat in the conference. In other words, we were a force to be reckoned with. By the time the season came along, all the "great" teams were scared to play us because we were scary. We were shocking everyone! We were messing everyone's chances of getting that number 1 slot and we were enjoying every second of it. Though 4th signifies the progress we have made, it's not acceptable. We jumped 6 spots in one year. We plan on jumping 3 more and finishing the conference this year number 1. We have patiently waited for this moment. We have had an exemplary summer and preseason of workouts. We have made tremendous strides. The only people who believe in us is us. My head coach always says,"3/15/15," and that has simply become our team mojo for the season. That's the championship game. Every practice, we keep our mind on the prize. I can already see us cutting down the net. Watch us work!