In the Paint

Looking Ahead

By Alex Allen

image1 (1)The summer before my sophomore year I became even more determined to come back in the best shape of my life and had gotten rid of most of my mental lapses and began finally understanding what our programs culture is truly about. That summer I was preparing to better the team by bettering myself for them so that together we could win not only another ODAC Championship but also an NCAA tournament game. However, as you know, this did not happen. We did not end up winning the championship game this season but we did make it to the second round of the NCAA tournament by earning the first ever NCAA win in our programs history. That is what we worked so hard for, but now since we have won a Championship and a NCAA game they have both become an expectation.

That is why this summer is important, while nobody else is working we are. This summer is what will define our season and trust me when I say that. We work hard now to better ourselves individually so that when we come together during the season we can focus on us. Even when I feel sick or do not feel like working out some days I think back to how it felt losing the Championship game and feeling like I let down my teammates, especially our seniors because everyone had worked so hard to get us to that point and we fell short. So I think “maybe if I ran that extra mile” or “maybe if I practiced for longer hours” to make myself that much better I could have helped the team more. Now I know it is not one person’s fault that we lost but that feeling you get losing a big game still makes you sick to your stomach. And even though I have that feeling to fuel me this summer, as we all do, we should not need it. We should not need to lose in order to win the next year because we want revenge or feel angry about it. It’s an expectation for our program now, we have to develop a killer instinct to win no matter what happened the year before. That is my vision and mentality for this years team, and I am sure my teammates would agree. We are going to win the ODAC Championship and NCAA games this year and years to come, not because we lost the year before but because that is what is expected of us and we will not settle for anything less and in order to do so we will push ourselves everyday to go harder than the day before. Larry Bird said it best “Once you are labeled ‘the best’ you want to stay up there, and you can’t do it by loafing around”.

Now some people may think “why do you push yourself so hard, is it really worth it?”. Is it really worth it? YES! I will say this and say this once, it is ALL worth it. Every single sprint, push up and even burpee (thanks Coach Ann) is worth it. Why? Because of the feeling you get when you win your first ever ODAC Championship or NCAA game and look at your teammates, whom you now claim as family, and are able to say “we did it”. Or the feeling when make that big hustle play that helps put your team ahead. The road to becoming a successful team is not smooth and clean, it is rocky and filled with tons of cracks. The strongest teams overcome their struggles together and push each other through the hard times because they know that the end result is worth going through all of that and the feeling you get when you do accomplish your goal(s) is beyond anything you will ever feel in your lifetime.

Now as I think about next year and the vision and mentality I see us having as a team I think about the two seniors we lost and the freshman we will gain. Char and Sarah were unique leaders. Playing without them next year will be a challenge because of the presence they had in our team. They both pushed me and everyone else because they knew what it took to get where we wanted to go. I am grateful to of had teammates like them for two years of my college career. With that being said, I am excited to meet the incoming freshman and to be an example for them and to hopefully have an impact on their lives as all the upperclassmen from my first two years did for me. Meeting new teammates is always fun and interesting because you really never know what you are going to get, especially within their first year as they adjust. I am sad to not be playing with Char and Sarah anymore but I am thankful to them for pushing me to be a better player and showing me how to be a great teammate.

This upcoming season I think will be one of the best yet for our program. I say that because we have grown since last year and will continue to do so even more and I am extremely excited to see what this year has in store for us or rather what we have in store for it.

We are LCWB.

“Push yourself again and again. Don’t give an inch until the final buzzer sounds.” – Larry Bird

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Ethos

Ethos, n.

Sarah CoronelSarah Coronel’s World: Love

The word I chose to describe Lynchburg basketball is love. In order to survive and succeed in college basketball, you have to love the game. You have to love competing during practice every day, putting in extra hours on the court, and busting your tail during the offseason. Lynchburg basketball has always felt like a family because we all love one another. We have hard conversations and may fight like siblings, but at the end of the day, we do it out of love and because we want each person to get better and reach their fullest potential. Love is making sacrifices for your teammates without expecting anything in return; it is the foundation of our team and the reason our program is so special.

Charmaine HairstonCharmaine Hairston’s Word: Confidence

The feeling or belief that one can rely on someone or something; firm trust.

  • A feeling of self assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities.

I chose this word because confidence is vital to success. Without it, you will never be sure or your abilities and will never reach your full potential. Confidence is key. 

 

 

Olivia DeFrancescoOlivia DeFrancesco’s Word: Purpose

I chose purpose because it is a crucial element in everything we do. We never do things without a purpose. Whether it is in preseason, postseason, or in practice, understanding why we do something makes it that much easier to do. Most importantly, every single person on our team has a purpose. No matter if it is big or small, each individual brings something different to the table. When everyone contributes and fulfills their purpose all at once, we, as a team, become unstoppable.
“Purpose is the reason you journey. Passion is the fire that lights your way.”

Brittany Afolabi-Brown

Brittany Afolabi-Brown’s Word: Resilience

The word that I chose to keep with me throughout the season is RESILIENCE. The meaning of this word is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness. The word resilient sums up how my character and work ethic has been since I have entered the Lynchburg College Women’s Basketball Program. In high school everything was easy and I never had to work very hard for something that I really truly loved which was basketball. I could rely on skill and I had no one pushing me to be better. So entering such a structured, disciplined and successful program gave me a reality check. I no longer could rely on skill and I found myself being pushed to a level that I had never been pushed to before. Being in this program makes me work extremely hard and it encouraged me to reach for goals that I once thought were beyond my grasp. Naturally, with these goals that I set, I found myself hitting setbacks and failures at times. And with these, I wanted to quit and just give up. It seemed much easier and I knew it would save me a lot of pain. I quickly realized that I was working and fighting for a goal that was bigger than just me. I had to be tough and resilient and not let my tribulations  make me give up. I used those failures to push me to work harder and get better every day. My resilience in these times has taught me so many life lessons outside of basketball but it has also kept me going within this program to this day. Resilience is not just something that I see in myself but my team as well. We are the toughest team I have ever played with and throughout our season whether we win or lose we fight to get stronger and be better every day.

Caroline Naumann

Caroline Naumann’s Word: Meraki

“Meraki” is a greek word that means to put all of your being into your work. It’s putting your soul, creativity, and the essence of yourself into whatever you do. I chose this word because I believe that every person is capable of being great. However, the only way to be great is to give it all you got. It is not enough now a days to be timid and afraid and only put forth mediocre effort. I find it important to find something that you are so passionate about that you can invest so much of yourself into that thing. I think life’s better when you’re passionate and having fun.

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Our culture, our ethos

EthosFollowing a terrific season in 2015-16, the coaching staff took the following seven months to really reflect on the previous season and look forward to what the next step of our program needed to be. We will always be so incredibly proud of that 2015-16 season and winning our program’s first ever ODAC Championship and making our first ever appearance in the NCAA tournament, but we also knew and wanted to make sure our incoming freshmen and returning classes knew that we aren’t done. That isn’t our cap on where we can go. We want to regularly win ODACs and consistently make it deep into the NCAA tournament so that one day we can bring home the National Title.

With that said, we also knew that this season was going to be so much more than the results. It is going to be more than x’s and o’s. We have our system in place, we know our plays and defense can win championships, we know our recruiting is strong and that we bring in the right girls to develop into amazing women on and off the court, we know our scouting is thorough and our team is always prepared, and we know that our conditioning is at the top of our league. All of that is set into stone within our culture, our players take pride in that, and the incoming classes rise to fit into that culture. When our season comes to the end this year, the result will not be from the success or failure of those things as much as it will depend on our character, our chemistry, our Ethos. Every day our players and coaching staff will wake up and begin defining and fitting the Lynchburg College Women’s Basketball Ethos. For the next 7 weeks, we will reveal the words our players and coaches have chosen to define our Ethos as a program.

 

ethos, n.

1.Character or characterization as revealed in action or its representation; the quality of the permanent, as opposed to the transient or emotional.

2.The characteristic spirit of a people, community, culture, or era as manifested in its attitudes and aspirations; the prevailing character of an institution or system.

3. The character of an individual as represented by his or her values and beliefs; the moral or practical code by which a person lives. (Oxford English Dictionary)

 

“When the opposition line up against the New Zealand national rugby team they face the haka, the highly ritualized challenge thrown down by one group of warriors to another…Opposing teams face the haka in different ways. Some try to ignore it, others advance on it, most stand shoulder to shoulder to face it. Whatever their outwards response, inwardly the opposition know that they are standing before more than a collection of fourteen players. They are facing a culture, an identity, an ethos, a belief system–and a collective passion and purpose beyond anything they have faced before.

 

‘Tis death! ‘Tis death!

I may die! I may die!

‘Tis life! ‘Tis life!

I might live! I might live!

 

Often by the time the haka reaches its crescendo, the opposition have already lost. For rugby, like basketball, and like much of life, is played primarily in the mind. The New Zealand national rugby team is the most successful rugby team in history. They have been called the most successful sports team, in any code, ever. In the professional era, they have an extraordinary win rate of over 86% and are the current World Champions.

The haka reminds us of the inherent fragility of all life. How little time is given to each of us. And how much we still have to do.

It reminds us:

This is our time.

 

Under coach John Wooden, the UCLA Bruins basketball team won the US national collegiate championship for seven straight years, starting at 1967. At the start of each season he would sit with his team down in their locker room and, for a long time — for a very long time — they would learn how to put on their socks:

—–    Check the heel area. We don’t want any sign of a wrinkle about it… The wrinkle will be sure you get blisters, and those blisters are going to make you lose playing time, and if you’re good enough, your loss of playing time might get the coach fired.

The lesson wasn’t really about blisters, or playing time, or whether the coach got fired. It was about doing the basics right, taking care of the details, looking after yourself and the team. ‘Winning takes talent,’ John Wooden would say. ‘To repeat it takes character.’

Between 1979 and 1989, Bill Walsh coached the San Francisco 49ers from an under-performing bunch of also-rans into one of the great sporting dynasties in gridiron history by employing a similar philosophy. He believed that, ‘You get nowhere without character. Character is essential to individuals, and their cumulative character is the backbone of your winning team.’

Walsh knew, ‘that if you established a culture higher than that of your opposition, you would win. So rather than obsessing about the results, you focus on the team.’

—(Quotes and excerpts pulled from Legacy by James Kerr)

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Summer Abroad in Australia

coronel-scubaThis summer, I traveled to Australia for an athletic training internship with a Western Australia Football League (WAFL) team through a company called The Education Abroad Network (TEAN). I loved working as a sports trainer for the Subiaco Lion Football club. It took me a few weeks to learn the game of Australian football, but it quickly grew on me. Before I knew it, I was a die-hard fan. I learned awesome new injury treatment techniques and met great people. My coworkers were so good to me. I didn’t think that the language would differ too much from what I was accustomed to in the US, but it did! There are tons of slang words and phrases that Australians often use. Some of my favorites are “no worries,” “cheers,” and “how you going?” It was so fun to always be learning about the carefree Australian way of life. I can honestly say I heard a new phrase or learned a new tradition almost every week until I came home.

coronel-elephantDuring my free time, I was able to explore and enjoy other parts of Australia. Some highlights include scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef, white water rafting in Cairns, jet boating the Sydney Harbour with views of the Sydney Opera House, feeding kangaroos in the Outback (the “bush”), and sand boarding down the dunes in Lancelin. One weekend, my friends and I flew to Bali, Indonesia, where we rode elephants and swam in lagoons. I had an absolute blast going on those adventures, but my favorite spot that I visited most frequently was Kings Park, in Perth. The views in Kings Park were spectacular; the best part overlooks the city and the Swan River. I walked through Kings Park several times a week to spend time at the café and the view never got old; I stopped almost every time just to look out over the water, city and mountains behind. It was so beautiful, especially during sunsets!

I’m so fortunate for the opportunity to complete my athletic training internship overseas and study abroad with TEAN in a country that I had always dreamed of visiting. I will never forget the experiences I gained, the memories I made, or the wonderful people I met in Australia.

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Hornets Overseas – with Olivia DeFrancesco in Italy

This summer Olivia DeFrancesco, a rising junior on the Hornet women’s basketball team, traveled to Italy. This is a blog of her experiences with a photo gallery.

View the Gallery Here

defrancescoitalyThis past June, I spent my time living in a small apartment in Rome, Italy. Just 10 minutes outside the heart of Rome, I took courses at the International Institute of Lorenzo de’ Medici. There, I got to opportunity to learn and explore every inch of the Eternal City, whether it was on class trips or on my own.

In the classroom I was able to learn so much in a short period of time. My classes were small with only 3-4 people in them, which put my learning experience on a much more personal level. My professors incorporated multiple on site classes and I was able to learn about parts of Rome I would never have thought to. One interesting place I went was the Keats-Shelley House. It was interesting to learn about the lives of famous English Romantic poets who travelled to Rome on their Italian Grand Tour. Other places I visited during classes were the Coliseum, Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, various Enotecas, the Non-Catholic Cemetery, the Largo Argentina, and Capital Hill.

On the weekends we were allowed to travel to various different cities. During my free time, I visited Florence, Venice, and the Amalfi Coast. My favorite trip by far was to the Amalfi Coast. It was a weekend full of fun, beautiful sights, and amazing food. On the first day my roommates and I were there, we went to the island of Capri. We took a boat tour of the Blue Grotto, and thanks to the low tides, we were able to go inside and explore the cave in our mini boat. Positano was our next stop, where we relaxed on the beach all day and rented kayaks to explore the incredibly beautiful waters. Our weekend ended with tour of Pompeii and a hike up Mt. Vesuvius. For any of the women’s basketball and soccer players reading this, it was like running up a hill steeper than Thomas Road that seemed like it would never end. It was unbelievably exhausting, but the views made it worthwhile.

Living in Rome truly changed my life. I was able to fully experience many different things in and out of the classroom. Not only did I make unforgettable memories, but I also built friendships and relationships that will last a lifetime. I loved every second of my trip and would highly recommend for any student to go abroad.

This post was originally published on Lynchburgsports.com.

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So You Want To Be A Coach Program-2016 Final Four Indianapolis

By senior Sammi Goldsmith

It has been two weeks since I first stepped foot in Indianapolis, Indiana. I had been anxiously awaiting my trip to the Women’s Basketball Final Four since January when I found out that I had been accepted into the WBCA’s ‘So You Want To Be a Coach’ Program.

so-you-want-to-be-a-coach-2016I wish I could turn back the clock and relive that weekend over and over again. The ‘So You Want To Be A Coach’ Program is a highly prestigious one that only accepts about 50 applicants each year. I was fortunate enough to meet most of these young women during the 3-day trip. The eagerness to learn was palpable as we all waited for our first session to begin. The WBCA intern, Mariah, made us feel immediately welcome at registration. She provided us with large binders, neatly packed with information and biographies of the speakers that would soon speak with us. Many of the speakers were either current or former college coaches, while others were at the high school level. We even had an official and a group of U.S. marines speak with us as well. The speakers were awesome, enlightening, and brutally honest. None of them sugarcoated anything. Obtaining and maintaining a coaching job is not easy, hence why the number of female coaches is dropping. The speakers communicated with pure passion, and it was enlightening to know that so many strong women share my love for coaching the game of basketball.

Although the weekend had many highlights, like hearing from Tara VanDerveer and meeting Geno Auriemma, the best part of my trip was meeting the other young women in my ‘So’ Class. I met so many inspiring people who have the same goals and aspirations as I do. By the end of the program, my ‘So’ Sisters and I were already making plans to meet up at the next Final Four. We spent time discussing our individual stories over dinner about our playing careers and what motivated us to get into the coaching world. The reasons varied, but one thing was always there: passion. The assistant coach from George Washington University, Diane Richardson, had an insane amount of passion when she spoke with my class. She really knew how to fire up a crowd, and she closed by telling us that passion changes lives. Coaching is not solely about Xes and Os or winning; it is about making a difference in the lives of the players. I am excited to make an impact on others as a coach and I know that the knowledge I gained during the ‘So You Want To Be A Coach’ Program will help me obtain my goals and excel beyond them. It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I am forever grateful for the relationships and connections I made while I was there.

“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.” –Theodore Roosevelt

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A Reflection of the First ODAC Championship from Our Three Seniors

In this week’s In the Paint blog, three LC seniors describe what it was like to end their career by grasping the Old Dominion Athletic Conference Championship.

DSC_8677

#11, Senior, Sammi Goldsmith

Senior year had arrived, and it was time to set a goal. The empty banner in Turner gymnasium served as a daily reminder that we wanted to win an ODAC Championship, and it caught my eye after every single practice. We started and ended every single preseason workout under that banner, because the best way to motivate is to envision the ultimate goal. I asked my teammates to meet together under the banner one last time on the night before we left for the ODAC Tournament. They all came, we sat in a circle directly underneath the banner, and we talked. We talked for an hour about our journey as a team. As each person went around and said their piece, I felt unbelievably lucky. It was obvious that each person in the circle was fighting to win a championship for the person next to her. Winning happens when a group of people is determined to prepare and sacrifice for a common goal.

For my fellow seniors and I, a year on the banner meant so much more than winning, it meant leaving a legacy of hard work and persistence. My first three years ended with locker rooms full of tears and seniors wishing for more time in their jerseys. Although I wish we could have won sooner for those seniors before me, their legacies added fuel to the fire and pushed us closer to capturing the ODAC title. I learned the value of hard work, and that no sacrifice is ever too big if you are truly determined to reach a goal.

Coach Pyzik Smith came to Lynchburg with the goal of instilling a championship culture. Winning our first ever ODAC Championship this year was a stepping-stone for the program, and I am overwhelmed with pride to be a part of laying down the foundation. It was my goal to leave my mark, but simply being a part of this program has positively impacted my life and for that I am forever grateful.

 

#30, Senior, Chaney Forbush

It is hard to describe what it felt like when that final buzzer went off in the ODAC Championship game. I think I was also a little shocked that we actually did it and conquered our biggest goal. It feels amazing to know that all of the hard work and sacrifices that were made over the last four years finally paid off. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end my basketball career than making history and getting to hold up the ODAC trophy with my fellow seniors as our teammates did the signature LCWB chant around us.

Happiness and satisfaction will always come to mind when I think about having won the ODAC Championship; it feels good to have finally done what we said we were going to do four years ago. It’s exciting to see how far LCWB has come in the past four years and I can’t wait to see how it will continue to grow and how new goals will be set to be conquered.

 

 

#34, Senior, Sarah Coon

It has been about 1,200 days since I committed to playing basketball at Lynchburg College; 1,200 days of dreaming of winning the ODAC Championship and cutting down a net. To be able to say that dream came true is an amazing feeling.

Fulfilling this dream is an extraordinary achievement in and of itself; however, accomplishing this dream — winning an ODAC Championship — with the group of people we did is what makes it a completely priceless and an incredible experience. I could not have imagined a better culmination of my basketball career with any better people by my side.

Throughout the four years of my collegiate career I have shared the court with a total of twenty-nine teammates, all of whom contributed to my memories of basketball at LC.  Each team worked toward a goal. Each year we got better and pushed the program to new, uncharted territory. The last two years especially were no exception. Together, we fought through rainy mornings of preseason track workouts, countless weightlifting sessions, boot camps, and “Friday Fun Runs.”  We showed our hard work in the beginning of the season by testing ourselves with the timed mile (after listening to “Eye of the Tiger,” of course) and the Manchester Run (a grueling series of 20 100-meter sprints).

On the court we triumphed in victories and learned from losses; we steadily climbed to the top of the regional and conference rankings. Together, we won an ODAC Championship.  Outside of the gym, we chased waterfalls in Puerto Rico; bonded with alumni during Alumni Weekend; engaged in prank wars over winter break with the men’s team; won intramural volleyball championships; and explored the great outdoors on many different hikes. We grew together as a family, as a program, and as young women on and off the court. The memories made with my teammates are my fondest memories I have of my time at Lynchburg College.  I would not have wanted to go through the years with any other people.

To all of the twenty-nine teammates, the managers, and the coaches; to the alumni and foundation of Lynchburg Basketball; to all members of the Lynchburg Basketball family; and to my classmates, roommates, and best friends: Chaney, Sammi, and Jaimie: Thank you for making my dream a reality, for allowing my fellow seniors and I to conquer an ODAC Championship; thank you for teaching me about myself and supporting me through my growth; and thank you for being my family.

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Understanding Mental Toughness

molly-shephardBy Molly Shephard, freshman

The transition from high school sports to college sports is something that people either do well or spend their entire first year trying to figure it out. There is no doubt that there’s a difference between the two — the pace, the intensity, the sacrifices. Nothing could have prepared me for what I was going to be walking into the first time I stepped foot on a college basketball court. Anyone could have told me countless times what it was going to be like with story after story, but until I experienced it for myself, I had no idea what it would be like.

I’m a freshman on the Lynchburg College women’s basketball team, and I couldn’t wait for the day that I committed. In no way did I think that it was going to be easy, but if I could have known one thing before I entered this next phase of my basketball career, it would be this: there is no way you are going to survive here unless you are mentally tough.

What is mental toughness, you ask? It’s the grit, as my coach always says — the ability to push through adversity and not lose confidence about who you are and what you do well. College sports aren’t easy in the slightest. Your coaches will push you to your limits. Practices will kick your butt. One day you won’t be able to hit a shot to save your life, but those are the days that can either make or break you. It’s how you mentally come out from those days that define how tough you are. Some people have it naturally, and some people never grasp the importance of it until it is too late.

Personally, I have a difficult time channeling my mental toughness — I’ll admit that. I’m the first person to second-guess myself. I want to do everything perfectly. I want my coach to know that I am the player that she recruited me to be. Messing up and being called out in practice multiple times a day is the ultimate confidence killer. No one likes to mess up in any way; we all want to be an asset to the team and do our part to help our team reach the ultimate goal.

At the end of the day, making a mistake isn’t the end of the world: Everyone makes them; it’s unavoidable. The mental toughness comes in when you take the constructive criticism that you are given from coaches or teammates and apply it to your game. When a coach is yelling at you that means they see something in you, something that you haven’t become yet. Once a coach stops yelling at you, does that mean they don’t see anything in you anymore? Have they given up on you? Did you give up on yourself? Coaches are supposed to be hard on you. They’re supposed to make you feel uncomfortable.

Imagine how it would feel to have so much potential in you, but because you weren’t able to become mentally tough, your coach recruited over you, and you never had the chance to reach your full potential. Henry Ford said it best: “It’s your thinking that decides whether you’re going to succeed or fail.” Stop second-guessing yourself. No more believing that you can’t do something. What if one day you couldn’t play the sport you loved? Would you be happy with the way you finished things? Good athletes push themselves to be good; great athletes push themselves to be great. It’s not about the play, or the defense, or taking the right shot. It’s about knowing that, when time is running out, and your team needs you, you’ll be able to produce. Allow yourself to become comfortable with being uncomfortable, and when you’ve done that, then you’ll be the best athlete you can be.

Good luck.

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Who we are on and off the court

caroline-naumannBy sophomore Caroline Naumann

We are LCWB. We are a strong, determined team that loves to play together. But that’s only half the story. The other half is who we are off the court, and never in my life would I have thought I would have these amazing girls as my teammates.

There is never a dull minute with this team. Whether it involves ambushing the nearest Chipotle for dinner or competing in a dance-off in the locker room, these girls are much more than basketball players. I firmly believe that one of the reasons we work so well together on the floor is because of the many relationships that we have built with each other off the floor. We were able to build trust through these relationships, and that becomes evident when we play.

So, here’s what you have all been waiting for… What exactly do we do off the floor? Personally, the locker-room is my favorite place to be. Whether we are getting ready for practice, or a big game, there is always a song to be sung and dance to be danced. We have assembled the most perfect pre-game playlist, and we sing every word. I have found that these moments are the best times to clear your head of anything outside of basketball, and simply be yourself. After a few songs of nothing but the most off-tone singing and the most ridiculous dancing I’ve ever seen, we focus up and head out to the court.

Another one of my favorite things about LCWB may seem small and unimportant, but by far shows how much of family we are. There is no better feeling than seeing each other around campus during a long day of classes. If there are more than three of us within 50 feet of each other we immediately meet up like a bunch of lost puppies. These moments usually consist of hilarious inside jokes that, if anyone else heard, they would surely think we were quite strange people. Or, my personal favorite is hearing my name from across the Dell, turning many heads of passing students, followed by a wave and a very big smile from one of my teammates. Honestly, we could walk by each other and say nothing, and that would turn into a joke.

After all is said and done, it is easy to say that these women I have the pleasure of knowing and playing with everyday are my family. Every team dinner or movie night we have, I can feel that bond get a little bit stronger. These women make me laugh harder and smile bigger than I ever have before. We can be the biggest goofballs you have ever seen or the most determined cohesive unit on the court. Either way, we are LCWB.

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The College Basketball Dream

By Sarah Coronel

Ever since I was a kid, I dreamed of playing college basketball. People always warned me that college basketball was a whole new level. “It will test your physical and mental strength,” they said. “You have to sacrifice things you care about, “ they said. It didn’t matter to me; I was just excited to take on the challenge and jumped in headfirst. Now that I’m playing in my junior year, I realize that they were right. Playing college basketball is tough; it has tested my physical and mental strength; I have sacrificed things I didn’t think I would. But what they didn’t say is how rewarding it would be and how much I would love every bit of it.

Over the past few years, I have watched our program transform. It was already building when I came in as a freshman, but since then has grown and improved even more year after year. Physical and mental expectations were raised to a new level. Sacrifices were made, chemistry grew stronger, and the ODAC title became closer within our reach.

Conditioning was the first thing that was built upon. Between my freshman year and sophomore year, the team began doing boot camps three times a week in the off-season with the women’s soccer team in addition to lifting 3 times a week.. The team pushed each other every day, always remembering that the work we were putting in would pay off in March. Between my sophomore and junior year, the school hired a new strength and conditioning coach. We began lifting and conditioning workouts with Coach Smith 4 times a week at 6am. I believe that the work we put in during the off-season is paying off and will continue to pay off throughout the season.

Mental toughness was another thing that was built upon throughout the past few years. Coming in as a freshman, I don’t think I fully understood the importance of mental toughness. As a college athlete, I’ve had to balance schoolwork, classes, workouts, practices and other activities. Sometimes it’s hard to block out everything other then basketball when I’m on the court, but it’s necessary and I’ve learned to do so everyday. The mental toughness of our team has grown remarkably in the past year. Last March, we had the ODAC championship on our fingertips and lost it. We had never felt such a devastating loss before. Instead of hanging our heads and feeling sorry for ourselves, we raised the expectations and standards of our team. We woke up at 6am to work our butts off every week of preseason and we challenge each other every day in practice to reach our common goal. I believe that our team’s mental toughness has the potential to carry us into the ODAC championship game again and this year, come out with a victory.

Someone once said, “Sacrifice something that matters for something that matters more.” I think that this quote perfectly describes the level of sacrifice that our team has risen to over the past few years. Instead of taking a nap or watching Netflix between classes, my teammates and I are in the gym, putting up extra shots. Instead of going to the pool with friends in the summer, our team is lifting and conditioning. I have had to sacrifice things that mattered to me over the past few years, but winning an ODAC championship for my team, my coaches and my school matters more.

The relationships I have formed with my teammates so far in my college career have been one of the best parts of the whole experience. We lift together, run together, eat together, laugh together and play together. I have made friendships that I know will last a lifetime. We trust in each other enough to sacrifice things and push each other physically and mentally in order to reach our full potential.

People may think or say that once we reach our goal, it will all have been worth it. It’s easy to encourage each other to push through obstacles because it will be worth it when we win. But you know what, I think it will have been worth it anyway. Yes, winning an ODAC championship is what we all work towards everyday and want more than anything, but as Arthur Ashe says, “Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome.” When I look back at the end of my career, I will remember laughing on bus rides, trying to get bench warnings, and driving to Chipotle with my teammates after practice. I will appreciate being part of something bigger than myself and working with other people to achieve a common goal. The work ethic, time management skills, and other lessons I have learned so far will prepare me for life after graduation better than I could have ever guessed possible.

I am so lucky to be living my dream and playing college basketball. I love playing for Coach Pyzik, Coach Siler and Coach Ann with my teammates. I‘m so happy here at Lynchburg College and can’t imagine playing basketball anywhere else.

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