November 28, 2010

Disclaimer: When I’m excited, my writing can be incoherent.

I really wanted to write this blog as a story with lots of suspense leading up to the ending, but since I really struggle to remember details of games accurately, in order, or at all, AND I'm too excited to not spill the beans, I'm going to start with the day's result...WE GOT OUR FIRST CONFERENCE WIN!

Let me be clear, the game was not perfect by any means. Actually, after wins and losses I usually go back over each play and think about what I could have done better. In any sport, there are always ways to pick apart your play and tear yourself to shreds. Believe me, I made some mistakes in this game, but for the sake of celebration I am going to try really hard to solely focus on the positive! Okay, so the third-to-last play of the game the other team's forward drove to the basket getting by my teammate, I rotated across the lane (‘help-side defense’), picked up my teammate’s player, and blocked her shot! Blocking shots is amazing, mostly because you don’t even give the offensive player the satisfaction to see whether or not they could make a game-tying or game-winning shot, but also because it looks cool :P. The other team fouled me after I grabbed the ball, putting me on the free throw line. After I was fouled I heard my coach say "Hill! Come here!" I have to digress; the first time I heard my coach say, "Come on Hill!" I thought I was in some serious dog poo. It turns out that because the French language emphasizes the first syllable of their words that I am, in fact, NOT always in serious dog poo, but she is actually cheering me on. Okay, so after she called me over (and I realized I was NOT in trouble) she told me, “It's now or never!" and gave me a high five. I stepped to the line and said to myself, “Here we go Hill, you can do this,” did my routine, and breathed out as I released the ball for one of the most glorious sights a basketball player longs to see...a SWISH! Okay, so I missed my second free throw, but we went up by three, forcing the other team to re-think the possible shots they would have to take to stay in the game. The other team grabbed the rebound and one of our guards fouled her with about eight seconds left, putting them on the free throw line. In hindsight this was a really good play; our guard fouled out, but she also took away the other team’s option of seeing whether or not they could make a game tying 3-pointer (kind of like blocking a shot ;)). Their player made her first free throw and missed her second (I’m sensing a pattern here). After the missed free throw, our other forward had a textbook box out and grabbed the rebound, forcing the other team to foul. My teammate stepped to the line encouraged with high-fives and “allez’s”, and made both of her free throws (yay pattern broken!), putting us up by four!

The last play of the game the other team came down the court headed full speed towards their basket while our guards did a great job pressuring the ball. As their guard tried to pass to the player I was guarding, I stole the ball. As the clock ticked to zero and I realized I had the ball in my hands, I started frantically jumped up and down, relishing in the fact that we had won our first conference game! I heard cheers and screaming coming from my teammates (who I don't think have seen me so happy since coming to Switzerland). I joined them in their hugging and cheering and told them with a smile on my face stretched from ear to ear, "This is what winning feels like!" 

There is NOTHING quite like winning a hard-fought game with a group of people you've really come to enjoy going to battle with. It really is indescribable, but I CAN tell you I felt my heart fill with happiness (I worried at one point if it might possibly burst) and tears of joy may have made their way to my eyes ;). I know I’m an incredibly emotional person, but I think this moment warranted my happy tears. As the game ended I realized: we'd won, it wasn't a dream, and my teammates were all smiling and embracing each other. I flashed back to all the moments we were so close to victory but had fallen just short. I thought about the teammates that go to school all day and then come to practice at night as well as the teammates who travel an hour to and from practice each day. Then I thought about all the hours we'd spent in the gym together, and all the frustrated tears I've cried after our losses. Getting this win reminded me instantly that all these experiences are worth the pain and frustration that also comes with playing the game.

You know how sometimes you feel like the stars aligned perfectly to make something happen in your life? I really feel like everything that happened yesterday took its part in making the day such a success. For instance, I woke up to a blanket of snow on the ground (our first snowfall of the season)! I immediately lifted my blinds (quicker than a kid runs down the stairs on Christmas morning) and I smiled while I cracked open the window and smelled the fresh, snowy, air. There is something magical about the first real snowfall, and I knew that it was going to be a special day. One of the problems with having teammates who travel significant amounts of time to get to the gym is that when it snows, busses can get a little backed up, and scheduled departure times can change. We ended up leaving half an hour later than planned because a couple of our teammates had to walk to the train station (instead of taking their usual bus). While we were waiting parked outside the train station we saw an old couple walking, and the man slipped in the snow and fell (yes, this too made me tear up), but our driver (a teammate’s mom) got out to help him up (who says that karma doesn’t exist?). The trip to Lucern was a mess, we hit traffic at every tunnel, the roads were slippery, and we had a close encounter with a snowplow. We thought we would be late because the roads were bad, and we even tried rescheduling the game. The head of the league told us that we couldn’t reschedule, we had to try to get there. They were willing to push the game back an hour, but there was a possibility that we would get there and be sent back home if we arrived after 5:30pm (I've been getting a little car sick on our bus rides and really didn't want to imagine our three hour ride turning into a six hour ride (there and back) without a significant break where I could plant my feet on non-moving ground). Even so, hearing that our game might end up being postponed I first thought that I'd get to put something else on my calendar to look forward to. After more thought I realized how much I didn't want them to postpone the game because that could mean we'd have two games in one week (which I'd already told you doing in the past had left my body bruised and beaten and the thought of which made my body flinch), or that they could possibly postpone the game past that sacred December 17th date where I'm flying back to the U.S. to spend two weeks with my family and friends. So the negatives outweighed the positives here. Good thing we got there just in time (5:15pm) to play the game! All of these little quirks added to aforementioned perfect alignment.

I know I’ve been a little babbly, but overall it was such a great day, AND it even ended with black forest cake and hot chocolate :) (THAT in and of itself is reason to win more often). The snow was still coming down as we drove our three hours home and that ear to ear smile was still on my face…


  1. NOW OR NEVER NANA!!! I'm going to start saying that a lot. I'm so proud of you and your team for the win! You always play your heart out...and you can really tell how invested you are in your games through your telling of the events. :)