March 20, 2011
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- A member of the Patriot League champion-Navy women's basketball team has chronicled their thoughts for NavySports.com throughout the NCAA Tournament. The final diary is written by team captain Angela Myers, who details a historic day for the program that also was her last in a women's basketball uniform.
I had set my alarm for 6:50 a.m., but woke up before it went off because all I could think about was the game. Three years ago as a freshman I remember going home for spring break. Our Navy women's basketball team went 7-23 that year. Watching the NCAA Tournament at home on television made me dream of getting the chance to play in the tournament myself. With a new coach taking over the program a few weeks later, who knew that could be the first step to our playing in the big dance?
Back to today. My roommate, Jade Geif, was still snoring when I went in to brush my teeth. I figured she would only wake up five minutes before departure time. We left the hotel at 7:20 for our 7:50 walk through. Everyone was pumped up not only for practice and the game, but also the free juices and snacks in the locker room. I was looking forward to walk through and seeing the gameplan we were going to use against DePaul. We had only 60 minutes to go through a million DePaul plays and we did with just enough time to get acquainted with the hoops (we were able to shoot around after walk through).
Breakfast was next, so we boarded the bus and headed back to the Ramada Inn to enjoy a nice pancakes, eggs and ham delight. But the nerves I had in my stomach only made room for a couple of bites so I left to take a shower. Before I went to my room I talked to my family about the game and pregame jitters. My sister, brother, father and friend were able to make it to the game. My family has been my biggest supporter throughout my career here. I was happy to have them at the biggest game of my life. My dad has been to every conference tournament but missed this one because he said he was going to come to the NCAA games instead, so I was extremely happy that we had won our conference and earned that automatic bid into the big dance. I left their room and went back to mine. Jade was just about to begin her pre-game nap. It is hard for me to sleep right before games, so my ritual is to shower and wash my hair because it is usually very tangled and the only way to get it up in a bun is to condition and then comb it.
We had a film session at 10:30, which was a highlight reel of the Blue Demons team. Now, more than ever, our Navy women's basketball team was up for the challenge. After film we went back to our rooms excited to play. Too bad we were not leaving the hotel for the game until 12:05, which meant we had more time to kill. The first thing Jade and I did was turn on basketball. Jade's favorite team, Pat Summit's Tennessee Volunteers, were handling a 16-seeded Stetson team. Watching basketball was making me nervous, but at the same time I was ready to go. I wanted to play in the NCAA Tournament!
We departed for the game (FINALLY!) at 12:05. Everyone got on the bus ready to play. When we arrived at the arena we lined up our backpacks so the golden retriever could hunt for possible explosives. This just goes to show you how serious things were. Erin Edwards and myself hurried to the locker room to change in order to get our treatments done before the first game ended. The team changed into our uniforms and some players went out onto the floor to watch the Penn State-Dayton game. It was a down to the wire game, just what you need to get yourself ready to play. Dayton was in the game the whole time and lost in the last minute or so. We huddled in our locker room before the end of the game to discuss the moment. We talked about what this game meant to us and how we felt. We ran out just in time to catch the final seconds of the game. Immediately at the sound of the final horn we did our traditional Go, Mighty Navy! cheer.
After a good warm up and starting lineups, it was time! I feel like we took the court ready and as a team. DePaul was the first team to score and in the beginning they were up 4-0. We then scored and stayed with DePaul through the first half and trailed by three at halftime. We played great defensively and as a team. I'm not going to lie ... I was happy it was halftime because I was a little tired and just need a couple of moments to refuel and then I was ready to go again. I came out with about 10 seconds left after a quality game talk with Erin Edwards and Chey Arvin.
The second half begins! No time to get caught up in the close game. DePaul came out strong, but so did Navy. We had the lead in the second half and it felt great ... for a split second, but DePaul went end line-to-end line and scored a layup. DePaul pulled away in the last few minutes and won, 56-43. Despite the 13-point margin this was not an easy game for DePaul. Our Navy women's basketball team played well and if it weren't for 23 turnovers, 7 of which were by myself, we probably would have upset the ninth-ranked team in the country!
When the game ended we walked over as a team to stand in front of the Navy Band to sing Blue and Gold. I noticed that the DePaul team and staff came to stand behind us as we sang. Thank you for that! That means a lot to have a team stay on the court as we sing. We appreciate that. Normally teams just run off the court at the conclusion of the game. It means a lot to have them support us after the game. Thank you Blue Demons!
That was the last time I would sing blue and gold in a United States Naval Academy jersey. I had a brief flashback of my career as I was singing and I was happy we made it this far especially starting from where we started my freshman year. I was also excited because the sky is the limit for this team. I can't wait till next year. Even though, I will not be on the team I will be supporting them every step of the way. I expect big things from this team and this program.
At the conclusion of the Blue and Gold, our team hustled back to the locker room. Tears were running down our faces and people were breathing hard. I had tears, but not of disappointment; I was happy we made it this far and was excited about the future of the program. We huddled as a team and people spoke. I said "Thank you to my teammates and coaches for a wonderful senior year. This has been the best season ever. I have been blessed to be part of the transformation of the Navy women's basketball program. I will always remember this team and the coaches. I have learned a lot from everyone. I am a better person now because of everyone."
All of us players have shared stories with each other about the support we have received in town. Whether it was the crowd at our selection show party, passing cars honking their horns at us while we were walking, people waving to us from across the street or stopping to talk to us in stores, the support we have received has been thoughtful, exciting and amazing.
I want to also thank the fans. You have been supportive throughout this year and my entire career. We appreciate those of you who made it to Penn State to support us. I think we may have won over the Penn State crowd as well. I also know that there was a good turnout of alumni players who made it to the game. Thank you for the support. Thank you for traveling a long way to watch us play. It helps to have the support of the alumni. The Navy women's basketball program is now on the map! Keep supporting Navy women's basketball because the future of this program is in great hands. Success is part of this culture and this program. Stefanie Pemper and the entire coaching staff have much more in store for Navy women's basketball. I have enjoyed my career playing here and I will continue to support the Navy women's basketball program. I look forward to watching Navy play in the next three NCAA Tournaments.
Thank you all,