March 25, 2013
Team captain Kara Pollinger writes the final 2013 NCAA Tournament Diary for the Navy women's basketball team. She begins by discussing the hopes of the team on the day before its game against seventh-ranked and No. 2 seed Kentucky.
I watched some of the men's NCAA Tournament games on Saturday night with my number one fans, more commonly known as the Pollinger family, in their hotel room a couple floors down from mine. We talked about how our brackets were trash due to all the upsets. Then we realized how fun it would be to say that the Navy Women's Basketball team messed up everyone's women's brackets! My roommate and I, Chloe Stapleton, were like children on the night of Christmas Eve trying to fall asleep. As we were tossing back and forth in our beds, we tossed back and forth ideas of "what ifs" and previous upsets. It seemed so fitting that we truly could beat the Kentucky Wildcats. With an upset in our minds and love for our team in our hearts, we finally fell asleep.
Finally! After all the anticipation, intense practices, and film sessions - game day was finally here! The team was glowing. So much excitement, determination, and focus filled the breakfast room of the LaGuardia Plaza Hotel. Scarfing down food has never been a problem for this team, but our stomachs were already filled with nerves and excitement so breakfast portions were somewhat smaller than usual. After breakfast, we all boarded the bus for walk through. Our walk through was at a local high school in a gym with a lot of character, as Audrey Bauer would say. The team intently read through the scouting report on the Wildcats. Our assistant coach, Jenerrie Harris, walked us through plays and informed us of tendencies. The walk through was concluded by the team cheering, "Whip the Wildcats!" We were ready!
Then back to the bus for Carnesecca Arena. We were only a short change into our uniforms and a 42 minute warm-up away from playing in the NCAA Tournament for the third straight year. We performed all of our pregame rituals and stampeded towards the court. We continued to stampede for the first half of play. We were playing with them basket for basket and ended up on top at the end of the first half, 26-25. We still criticized the things we did wrong in the first half vice being happy with the score because we knew that Kentucky would come out strong in the second half. Unfortunately, that was true to a further extent than we expected. The Wildcats came out with stamina and a high field goal percentage that quickly denied our dreams of winning an NCAA Tournament game for the first time in school history.
After losing a game that you wholeheartedly wanted to win and genuinely thought you were capable of doing so, it is extremely hard to say that you are proud of where you ended up. Regardless of the final score of that game, I'm proud of the things we accomplished this year. I am especially proud of my teammates for receiving various awards: Alix Membreno
- Tournament MVP and Second Team All-Patriot League, Jade Geif
- First Team All-Patriot League and All-Tournament Team, Chloe Stapleton
- All-Tournament Team, and Audrey Bauer
- League Academic Team. I am proud of Jade, once again, for reaching 1000 points. I am proud of our team for overcoming out-of-league adversities by battling through league games to maintain the title of Patriot League Champions.
As much as I love some well-deserved trophies, I think we achieved so much more than hardware this season. Stefanie Pemper does such a wonderful job each season holding this true. We developed a family and memories that will last much longer than our years here together at the academy. We ate dinner at Alix's house in New York, high-fived the Milwaukee Bucks and Indiana Pacers at the start of the second half of their NBA game in Milwaukee, listened to M.L. Morrison rant about how amazing Texas is on our trip to Houston, experienced an amazing show by the UniverSoul circus in Queens, and posed for countless pictures at the Garden of the Gods in Colorado. So how do I know this family and these memories will last? Some of our NWB family members - Lisa (Steinmetz) Cordonnier '03, Courtney (Davidson) O'Brien '04, Chrissie (Vallely) Houser '01, K.C. (Gordon) Koepp '10, Amanda Taylor '10, Kristen Kavanaugh '02, Kate Maslowski '04, and Adrienne Roseti '04 - gathered in San Diego to watch our game on Sunday. They wore their Navy gear and stood proud with us for the singing of the Blue and Gold after the game. Now that's something to be proud of.
These eight women were only a small portion of our fans watching that game. We had family and friends drive up to Queens to support in person with over-sized pictures of our heads, plus hundreds of others watching on television. We have been blessed with wonderful support all year and it truly has made our season so much more memorable. Thank you so much for being amazing fans and we are looking forward to seeing you again next year!