By Alex Allen
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