Get'cha Head in the Game.
Have you ever seen a musical (boys, don’t lie...) where people randomly break out into song mid-conversation as a means of socially acceptable communication? To paint you a picture of what my own communication skills look like, it’s as if I walked off the set of Grease after the finale scene at the fair where everyone sings “We Go Together” (think: made up words delivered in lyrical form, wild hand dancing, extreme facial expressions) and continued daily life without breaking character. On more than one occasion one of my girlfriends has likened my spirit animal to a gangly pre-pubescent boy from Kansas that is as flamboyant as the day is long. The kind that everyone knows is clearly different but is too overwhelmed by the flamboyant little twelve year old sashaying in front of them to even know how they can or should properly handle it. And to be fair, my friend has a point considering the fact I’ve sung “I Can Hear the Bells” from Broadway’s Hairspray after each chance encounter with any boy I meet that rates mildly to moderately attractive. Words often fail me in the presence and immediate aftermath of cute men as my more unfortunate friends already know. So when pressed for a more precise description of my emotional state using the vocabulary of an adult with even the loosest grasp on the English language, my genuine response tends to be singing louder and more hysterically.
Needless to say, music is a large part of me. Particularly the embarrassingly way over the top kind. Hence, the title from High School Musical’s soundtrack, which I’ve shamelessly ripped off in order to title this week’s blog post dedicated to last month’s March Madness. Because a more seamless transition from HSM to March Madness does not exist.
And if we’re talking about March Madness, it would be wrong of me to not talk about the UConn Women’s Basketball team led by THE MOTHER AND FATHER OF WOMEN’S BASKETBALL, Geno Auriemma and Chris Dailey.
For those not from Connecticut, growing up there as a fan of the UConn Basketball teams (women’s and men’s) is a way of life. As a UConn alum, I can personally testify to there being no experience comparable to standing in our home arena, Gampel Pavilion, and feeling the bleachers begin to shake with excited crowds cheering for their teams as they rush the court.
If you happen to be wondering how someone who can probably rattle off more OPI nail polish colors than types of organized sports can be so excited over a basketball team, it’s because there’s one thing that reigns supreme to all the beauty products in the world and it’s me being spoiled. I mean, what better way to spectate basketball than root for the women’s team that just so happened to benchmark their success by being the number one team for most consecutive wins? The last time they lost a game was back in 2014 before I was even BORN: circa 2014, before glitter eyeshadow was even a thing.
And as a side note - if you are reading this and are of the opinion that women’s basketball is a lesser sport to that of their male counterparts, please escort yourself away from me – even if you are reading this 500 miles away from Dallas; I need you to be a minimum of 501 from of my proximity. Because let’s be real – the lady Huskies at UConn don’t crack when Geno rips his own hair out by the handful nit picking their nearly flawless performances and Chris Dailey bans them from wearing nail polish during the season (this is a real thing – I’m hyperventilating at the thought). Despite all the accolades the women’s basketball team at UConn continues to earn, the department still deserves more credit. Day in and day out, those girls and coaching staff are all constantly forced to face the anti-competitive spirit that continues to permeate women’s basketball. Geno is practically asked to apologize for his own success and “give” someone else a turn. Worst of all, he’s been encouraged to coach a men’s team to truly prove his abilities, to which I say: the same day America begs Bill Belichick and Tom Brady (marry me) to please stop winning so much and finally prove themselves by leading that team of female footballers that prance around in armored sports bras that only serve to redirect attention from their undeniable athleticism. (It’s so sick living in a world where I know that in this hypothetical, Brady – and if we’re being honest, probably Belichick, too - would look better than me in one of their uniforms. Such is life).
As a recap for those that didn’t tune in, this year the Final Four was hosted right in the city that I now call home, Dallas, TX (remember: I love the sports that spoil me). And as further recap, UConn was unanimously expected to win the entire tournament as they have done the last four years in a row (I AM SO SPOILED). This year would have marked five championships in a row – 12 total in program history, which is more than any other sports program in the country. As if this isn’t enough, the women’s team at UConn also holds the title for longest winning streak at 111 wins. However, to both my horror and amazement, Mississippi State ended the streak for UConn last Friday in a game that ended with a buzzer-beater jump shot in overtime from Mississippi’s guard Morgan William.
It’s no surprise to anyone that is lightly familiar with UConn Women’s history that this year was the year to beat the Huskies as they are comprised primarily of young players who have followed in the wake of their All-American seniors graduating – each one picked first, second, and third in the WNBA draft immediately upon leaving Storrs, CT.
And while I hate to admit it, the game against Mississippi State is certainly not considered one of UConn’s finer moments largely based on how last Friday night’s game played out, where the better team won that night, as Geno graciously admitted (and most likely Chris “CD” Dailey behind closed doors did as well, though she often shies from the press because she is a humble woman who is focused on the basketball program she has helped create and does not get sidetracked by things I would, like lots of attention. And nail polish).
At the very least, we lost to a team that played exceptionally well that night and a player who sunk a game winning shot after having an unprecedented Cinderella story-like presence in the March Madness tournament games this year. (Did anyone else tear up just a lot when they recapped Morgan William mentioning the three year anniversary of her late father’s passing upon her win in the Elite Eight round that included a career high 41-points that helped her team advance on to the Final Four?). When all is said and done, I can't wallow in self-pity knowing no spectator had a worse night than the father to UConn sophomore Katie Lou Samuelson, who flew across the country to watch his older daughter, Stanford senior Karlie, play in the Final Four hours before before UConn took the court - both teams facing the same end result in their respective games.
So, to end it on a positive note, let’s give some credit to the Women’s Basketball team at UConn that has long dominated the sport and handled their first loss with tremendous grace that arguably defines the program’s legacy as much as their statistical success. In a world where we glorify athletes of questionable ethical merit, the unassuming girls at UConn set an incredible example both on and off the court and remain humble throughout this season’s highs and lows. God knows I’ve done a lesser job than them in holding back tears after a stressful and disappointing experience; I basically ugly-cry to my friends when dinner appointments are reset more than once because I just cannot with them. It’s asking too much.
So, cheers UConn. Like most men I date, you’re winners to me even if you are losers (but unlike the men I date, you’re only losers this once every few years). BYEEEEEE.
P.S. I've added the best UConn Huskies Video there is of Geno to date below, and these super cute custom cookies I had made by Society Bakery. How cute are they? Also, editing credit JMAC.