Follow Kelsey's Thoughts Throughout March
MARCH 31 – THANK YOU!
Looking back over this whole experience, it’s definitely something I want to remember for the rest of my life. Not many college basketball players can say they went to the Sweet 16. We made history at the University of Delaware and for me that is a true blessing.
For my final thoughts, I will share my three favorite things from the Tournament.
1 – My team! We had a ball! From the moment the horn sounded in the CAA championship to the final horn against Kentucky, we enjoyed every moment. From the bus rides that were very short (and those that were very long!), we still found ways to make each other laugh. The long periods in the locker room before practices and after games, we danced, sang and absolutely enjoyed each other’s company. This is a team I know I will never forget.
2 – Another one of my absolutely favorite things was the Sweet 16 excitement. From our decorated locker room to the Louisiana style t-shirts. For someone who loves t-shirts, this was a highlight!
3 – The fans! Our fans are amazing. They were so happy and electric the entire time. Our fans are loyal and truly care about us. It was a great feeling during the whole tournament to have all of them behind us the whole way. It made the tournament so much better!
MARCH 28 – SWEET 16! Back to Work
After a day off Wednesday, we were back in the gym today. I arrived to a nicely decorated locker room. Being selfish, I thought it was all for my birthday. Which was today!! But after a quick look it was hard to miss the 16's hanging from the ceiling. All the decorations were Sweet 16 (birthday) decorations thanks to Stephaine Leon. It was soo cute.
After that we headed into practice. Practice was good as usual. We could here the faint screams and cheers from outside the west gym doors. And we quickly left practice, skipping film and heading to our send off.
It seemed as if all of our fans were there. Walking through I was amazed at how many familiar faces I knew and how excited they all were for us. One man didn't stop cheering even once we were already on the bus. One couple even had a convertible and were holding out signs. My absolute favorite was seeing other athletes out there. I loved seeing the track, softball and lacrosse girls that I have come to know so well out in the cold supporting us. It was sooo cool! Thank you to everyone!
Finally the bus took off, which seemed to be the longest bus ride to Bridgeport, Connecticut. It felt like we drove forever and sat in traffic even longer. We had all changed seats multiple times in the back and gotten up even more. Everyone's phone batteries were low and the nerves were high. We were ready to get off of that bus.
When we finally arrived, we got to the hotel that had cookies, water and apples out for us along with balloons and signs. Even the hotel was excited we were there!
And we finally got our NCAA hotel keys that all the players who played in the Tournament last year had been looking for. To see that NCAA logo on the hotel key made it so real for me, we were in the Sweet 16!
MARCH 26 – SECOND ROUND
Today was a good day. It’s our last game at the Bob in front of all of our fans and we were too excited!
We woke up ready after a good night’s sleep. The pancakes this morning tasted like funnel cakes and they were so delicious.
Courtni and I then watched a movie, or I watched a movie while she slept, but soon it was time to go.
We arrived pretty early for walk through only to find out we would be able to go on the court later than thought.
Luckily, we had Kayla to entertain us. While most of us were in the locker room, she was in the hallway making dog barking noises. Not only did it sound like a real dog, but like a pack of dogs. It was the craziest and funniest thing I had heard in awhile. She is a trip!
Anyway, walk through was back to normal with shooting mixed in and it was obvious we were really excited and pumped for this game.
When we got back, we had pre-game meal and another break until we left at 5 p.m. Night games are my favorite because there are multiple breaks for naps throughout the day.
Finally, it was game time! When we arrived, the atmosphere at the gym was even more electric than the day before. We got ready and Coach Martin gave one of the best speeches. It was better than any speech all year. All of us were excited and ready to go.
You all know what happens next. It was an intense and physical game. I even had both contacts knocked out tonight! All of the starters finished the games with various bumps and bruises.
But honestly, we couldn’t feel any of the physical pain. We only felt joy and excitement.
We had done what not many other teams can say they have done… only 16 to be exact.
Tonight we will all go to sleep with Sweet (16) Dreams!! I cannot wait to see what the rest of the week holds.
MARCH 24 – THE GAME!
Finally the day we had all been waiting for had come… the first game!
We woke up pretty early because it was a noon game. We did our normal routine breakfast and walk through in a conference room. As a group, we had one of our best walk throughs ever. We were prepared and ready to go!
Before the game, despite not being able to leave the locker room, having the athletic trainers in there and other NCAA rules we had to follow, we settled into our normal pregame routine.
As you all know by now, we won! The game was intense and fast paced, but we were able to handle it. The crowd was on top of their game as well, shouting for every play.
The thing I will remember most about today is at one point during the second half after a random play, the crowd just went crazy. Everyone was yelling and screaming on their feet. In that moment, I knew we weren’t going to lose. It was a crazy feeling when West Virginia was coming down the court at that point.
Our fans are incredible and were definitely the difference in this game.
After the game was crazier than before. It was a big blur of media. There was a press conference and then everyone who played had to wait in the locker room for a while waiting for the media to wrap up.
Having to sit without our phones can be a struggle for us, especially after a big win. We were eager to check messages, talk to family, or, like Akeema, play Ruzzel. We sat and watched more March Madness games in the locker room as people were called for media.
The real time occupier though was searching for Kayla’s dance video that was played during our game. She is a trip!
After that, we were allowed to go watch the first half of the UNC-Albany game to scout who we were playing next. I expected the arena to be empty, as our fans would clear out after our game. To my surprise, I walked out to a packed gym. Everyone was curious about these two teams.
We were released for a few hours to our families to eat and hang out and then we had to head back to the hotel to focus for Tuesday. For me, spending time with family is always much appreciated.
When we came back to the hotel, we hung out for a bit as a team and then went to dinner while our coaches watched film and did their research.
We’re ready to tell them us all about it tomorrow.
I am still so proud of my team. Second round, here we come!
March 23 – LAST PRACTICE BEFORE THE GAME
Today we woke up and had breakfast in the hotel before heading to the gym for interviews and practices. A few people had a press conference with Coach while the rest of us sat in the locker room and waited for practice. These are some of my favorite times with the team – just sitting in the locker room talking and enjoying each other’s company. I think my teammates are the most hilarious people at these times.
Practice was definitely different today than usual. We were only allowed an hour and a half in the main arena and for the first portion, media was allowed in the gym. It seemed like with every shot, you could hear a camera clicking.
The practice was good and I really feel like we are ready for gameday.
After practice we came back to the hotel and some of us slept, did homework or hung out with family. Later we went to dinner, which was delicious like always.
After dinner we bonded in Kayla and Elena’s room and learned even more about each other. It was a really great time as the team is made up of a bunch of silly, crazy and real girls that I have come to love so much. TO sure this experience with them is one I will always remember.
We have been waiting for tomorrow all week and it’s crazy that it’s actually here. We cannot wait!
March 22 – PRACTICE DAY THREE
Due to NCAA Tournament preparations in the building, today we were not allowed to be in our locker room, the main arena and the East gym (where we typically would practice if we cannot get into the arena). We practiced in the West gym (where volleyball usually practices) for the first time since preseason, so it was definitely somewhat of a different feeling.
After practice we grabbed all of our stuff and boarded the bus to head to our hotel. It’s a weird feeling staying at a hotel for a “home” game, but we wanted to avoid the hoopla of campus and be able to focus on our game. It’s sort of like an away game, but it will be well worth it for that home court advantage on Sunday.
For dinner, we went to a restaurant on Main Street and after MUCH persuasion, we convinced the coaches to let us get milkshakes at another of our favorite restaurants.
Imagine 14 different milkshake orders, it was definitely crazy! But it was soooo delicious.
Alecia loves this particular milkshake pretty much more than anything. Her facial expression when she received hers was that of pure joy.
Once we got back to the hotel, Courtni hooked her iPod up to the speakers in the room and we had to let loose. However, our neighbors were not as excited as we were. Sorry about that, Coach Malcom! ;-)
March 21 – PRACTICE DAY TWO
It’s midterm week on campus and after a long night in the library for some of us, we struggled to make it to our 9:30 a.m. classes (but we did!). Sometimes it’s hard to focus with all the fun and excitement when everyone in our classes is just as excited as we are for this weekend. For me, keeping busy and on task helps me stay focused and after a full day of classes and tests, it was back to the gym.
When we came back to the Bob today, it was even more done up than yesterday. The East gym had been turned into a media center and there were curtains everywhere.
This was our last practice in the main arena before Sunday. Practice was good and you could tell the energy and intensity was there.
After practice we watched film and for most of us, it was our first time seeing West Virginia play. I’m a visual learner, so seeing film is always beneficial going into the last few practices before game day.
March 20 – PRACTICE DAY ONE
Today was a normal day of classes and practice just like any other day. Or so we thought.
We all arrived to the gym later in the day for weightlifting or to get treatment from the athletic trainers. We walked into the gym to do a circuit with our strength and conditioning coach, Trevor, and to our surprise the madness had begun.
The arena was lined with black carpet and NCAA signs were everywhere. Our benches had been replaced with brand new black chairs from the NCAA. Jodi and I had a grand ole time playing around and laying out on them (they were comfy!). Needless to say, we were pretty excited!
It was a normal practice as we got up and down the floor and really pushed ourselves. Everyone was definitely there to work. There were so many people in and out of the gym setting up for the Tournament, but as a team, our focus was on the court.
After practice, I went to grab something to eat before a meeting and a much needed trip to the library. However, on my way back, I noticed my favorite Delaware sign and a special NCAA sign saying, “Welcome Fans.”
It’s crazy how the whole town is excited for our game!
March 19 – Selection Show
Today was the Selection Show. Tru, Joy and I ate at TGI Fridays so we could just walk through to the Embassy Suites. When we did, we were so impressed with the set-up.
Although we had done something similar last year, this year’s watch party was different due to the change of venue and scenery. There were ice sculptures and balloons and it was all very cool.
We went upstairs to a room to put our stuff down and were briefly told what to expect as we were walking in and how the night would go. After that, we were on our own to go along for the ride.
They called us in and introduced us to the fans by class and although the other classes walked behind one another, I begged Akeema to walk next to me. I have to admit that I was a bit nervous.
All of our fans were there and seeing familiar faces is always a blessing.
Even though we knew where we would be playing, we werereally excited to learn who would be coming to the Bob.
My favorite part was when Akeema and I were being silly and joking around trying to scream our loudest.
It felt like we cheered forever from when they told us to start. But when we saw Delaware on that screen, it was more than worth it. You could tell we all got a little bit louder. The room was crazy!
We learned that we were going to play West Virginia, the school that Akeema transferred from.
The coaches frantically pulled their computers out andstarted doing research on the team. It’s weird to me to think that WVU was doing the same about us.
After that, the team and everyone else breathed a little easier. Except for Elena, as she still had a live interview to do. Prime seats were behind her and to the side of her to be on TV. However, I tried to sit out of camera view because I was afraid I would do something silly, weird or embarrass myself (or her!).
Obviously she did excellent and answered the questions with a smile and laugh, the way only Elena can.
Overall, the show was great and we had a blast seeing everyone there to support us. We cannot wait until this weekend!
March 17 – CHAMPIONSHIP GAME DAY
I don’t know how everyone else slept, but I definitely tossed and turned all night. I was too nervous and excited for today’s Championship final against Drexel.
However, I love food and I was more than ready for breakfast. Elena and I sat in the wrong area with a few others before realizing that we were suppose to be sitting in a different section. We were all into our food, between the waffles and omelets, we hardly noticed the fact that none of our teammates had joined us.
Pre-game preparations started after breakfast, where instead of traveling 20-30 minutes to the arena for a typical shoot-around, we did a walk through of the Drexel scout in a conference room at the hotel. This was quite a sight to see as all of us were in flip flops or socks passing around a rolled up sweatshirt or tissue box acting as a ball. It gets the job done though and we know better what to expect of the game.
Today was especially funny when Stephanie fell trying to move quickly in her socks. It was just the right kind of comedic relief we needed to calm our nerves. We were ready!
Following our walk through, we were able to go back to our rooms to rest for about 40 minutes before we had to depart for the game. Most of us sleep or watch TV or do something pretty low key. Courtni and I definitely needed the pre-game nap and passed out instantly.
A little after noon we headed to the arena. The parking lot was packed by the time we arrived and the bus was barely able to get where we needed to go. We were anxious and we know our fans were as well.
As with every game, our coaches yelled, “Let’s go Delaware!” before we filed off the bus.
Music was blaring from different headphones. The moment had finally arrived.
Today, Danielle decided to bring her speakers and play music in the locker room. We normally listen to music at home, so this was comforting for us.
The game was finally underway and as you all know by now, it was quite a nail biter, but WE WON!!
Running off the bench to greet our teammates still on the court, the energy was out of control. It was a mix of joy, excitement and relief. We had finally accomplished the goal we had set out for all year. We were back-to-back champions and went undefeated twice in CAA play.
Post-game was such a blur of hugs, pictures and cutting down the net. We tried to give Coach Martin a celebratory shower from the water jugs, but sadly most of it ended on the floor.
One by one we went up to cut down the net. Then we split up to see our families and friends who had come down to support us.
My favorite moments for sure were watching the excitement and love from my teammates. The post-game hug between Elena and Kayla was by far my favorite however. Our fans were so sweet and happy for us. That’s the best feeling, to know not only are you excited, but also others are excited for you.
Our feelings now are nothing but excitement and happiness as we head back to Delaware and patiently wait to start stage three… the NCAA Tournament.