UT-Martin's Heather Butler blogs about rising to the challenge of facing North Carolina

"It’s not how big you are, it’s how big you play!" - Photo by Nathan Morgan, UT Martin University Relations

UT-Martin star Heather Butler offers a guest blog about making the tournament and rising to the challenge of facing a bigger program.

My senior year is slowly coming to an end and what a journey it has been.

For four years straight, we have worked our way to becoming OVC Champions advancing to the NCAA tournament. I am not going to say that winning the title each year has been easy because it has been the complete opposite: each game in the conference we have had a target on our backs making it a battle.

Everyone wants to be able to call themselves OVC champs, but only one team can come out on top, and it is an indescribable feeling knowing we are that team once again. Our coach has always prepared us going into the season expecting us to perform to our best potential no matter who our competition is.

He has scheduled some of the top teams in the country during the season to get us ready for this time of the season, tournament time. I always love going up against the big teams because you get to see what you are made out of as a player and as a team.

Well the team and I now have another chance to see what we are made out of by competing against a great team, North Carolina. Yes, they may be bigger, faster, and more athletic as a whole but that does not make them unbeatable.

Every time we play a team such as the Tar Heels, people continuously underestimate us looking at us and thinking, "Who is UT Martin? Where is that even on the map? They don’t belong on the court with these big teams!"

Personally, I am definitely used to it because my height always has people underestimating me. Growing up, people did not think I would go very far in my career because in the basketball world being short is not looked at as a positive. One of my favorite quotes is "It’s not how big you are, it’s how big you play!"

With that being said, going into the NCAA tournament to play against one of the top teams in the country is a motivation. We want to continue to prove to everyone who we really are as a basketball team and what we are capable of. We just have to believe we can do it, NEVER back down, and play as a unit. I love a good battle, and that is what we plan on giving North Carolina on Sunday.

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