In the team huddle before the game, we went over the strategy and reviewed the scouting report. Then Marti looked at us and asked, “Wait, what basket are we shooting at?”
I clutched my belly in laughter. And not for the last time that day.
Saturday was the inaugural women’s basketball alumni game at St. Bonaventure and my core workout became laughing and cheering for the better part of four hours. For my four years at Bonas I was a basketball manager. I earned an advanced degree in laundry and in talking my way around the rules at gyms across the Northeast. I was the keeper of the keys to the cage (You want a basketball to shoot around on your own? Come talk to me.) and the stand-in at the low post during walk through and breakout drills (don’t hurt Amy!).
This was a reunion that brought together generations of Bonnies, those who played in the 1980s and still had their brown and gold “Lady Bonnies” jackets which they wore proudly into the Reilly Center, those from the 1990s up to recent alumna who took the program to the NCAA Sweet 16 two years ago.
The landscape of college athletics, particularly women’s college athletics, has changed dramatically and yet there is always a common thread that runs through the experience of being part of team, part of a legacy that builds upon itself. It’s a family full of quirky relatives — the ones you love, the ones who make you shake your head, the ones you mourn. Sometimes you need the perspective afforded by time and distance to appreciate that family. Then again, sometimes time spent with that family gives you the perspective to take back to your own life.
This weekend I was blessed to spend some time with former teammates of mine whom I haven’t seen in years. We laughed, not just at old memories but as if we stepped right into our best selves, sharing what was important, asking questions because we cared, accepting and laughing and letting everything just be.
I thought of all the women — the ones I knew well and the ones I had just met — as I went for my run Sunday morning. I’ve been making peace lately with my training, remembering that my attitude and my joy are what’s most important rather than the numbers on my Garmin. And as I’ve known before, the more I let go of the results, the better I start to run.
What can I really control here? I can’t control the icy patches on the road or the weather. I can’t control who shows up to a race or what the course will be like. I can’t control time. But I can control my effort, my attitude and where I put my focus. My focus on this run turned to the women of St. Bonaventure basketball and the balance between competitiveness and togetherness, the way in which the process really is more important than the results and those life lessons may take a few dozen years or so to sink in, but eventually, they do. And you are a better person for the experience.
My intention was to run 8 miles. I ran 9.25 instead. My run felt more relaxed and my pace, while not my fastest, was better than last week. But more importantly, I was enjoying my day as it was in all it’s craziness and quirkiness. I was wrapped in the warmth of the memory of a bunch of crazy girls who loved basketball and cheered for each other and filled with gratitude. Because I am a better person for having been a small part of something so great.