Terri Mitchell's USA Basketball Experience -- Entry 7
July 28, 2008
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina - I woke up this morning and took a walk around the complex one last time. To be expected it was dark in the gym, which seemed odd at first because for the last five days that place was full of so much energy and life. Last night's game against Argentina was every bit as wild as we thought it would be. The crowd was incredibly loud, and I think I'll be hearing horns in my mind for another week. If I had closed my eyes, I would have thought I was at a soccer game! The game was close at first. I knew it would be until our players settled down and not allowed the outside circumstances to dictate their game. You would expect they would be a bit nervous and they played like that at first. But once they got in the flow of the game, there was no looking back. We went into the locker room at half time with a good lead, but really took control in the third quarter. It was so much fun to sit back and see the pure joy on our players' faces as the game came to the end. Then they had their time to celebrate. The closing ceremonies were fun, but to hear the "Star Spangled Banner" played in another country with a gold medal around your neck is quite a feeling!
Yes, it was great to go undefeated. Yes, it was great to represent our country and bring home the gold medal, but this trip was so much more than that. I have watched a group of individuals come together and form a team. If you would have seen us at our first couple of practices in Colorado, you would have wondered if we were capable of a gold medal performance. To the players' credit, they listened. They put aside their personal agendas and put the team first. They really bonded off the court, which I believe is so important to the success of any team. You have to care for one another so when the tough times come on the court, you are able to stand strong together instead of trying to do it alone. We have five principles in our program (at Marquette): believe, commit, mature, respect and thankfulness, and I watched each of those principles unfold with this team. You have to believe in one another and commit to one another before you can do anything else. They were very respectful to the people around them and the culture they experienced. These young women certainly matured throughout this process. We pushed them to levels in practice that they had never experienced, and helped prepare those who are going to college as they will be pushed to those same levels over and over again.
Finally, the principle that brings it all together is thankfulness. We have a lot to be thankful for, yet so much we take for granted in the U.S. I know when these players return home that they will be much more thankful for the little things everyday that they take for granted. These are the principles that we live by at Marquette and we have lots of success to show for it.
It was great for me to see is players that I never knew on a personal level grow throughout this process. They became better players, and more importantly better people. I hope they take what they have learned throughout this whole experience and apply it to their own situations.
This experience has been great, but I am ready to come home. There is so much to celebrate and great memories to take with me. I have learned so much from Carol and Bill, and will be following their success this season. More than that, I have two friends that I can laugh with when I see them again in the future. I am excited for the eight players that are headed to college and look forward to reading good things about them. For the four rising seniors, I know they will end their high school careers on a wonderful note.
We fly out tonight at 9 p.m. We have to be out of the dorms by noon, so our day will consist of shopping and a late lunch. Then we are off to the airport. Thanks for being part of my trip!
Bringing home the gold,