The NCAA Tournament is going on, where we see legends in the making during the course of three weeks in late March into early April. It also gives an ample opportunity for professional players to look back on pivotal moments in their college careers, and how certain moments may have made things for the better.
Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird and Chicago Sky forward Elena Delle Donne have written columns on The Players' Tribune, which is a column site written from the first-person perspective of athletes. It was founded by former New York Yankees legend Derek Jeter.
Bird's column was published on Saturday, where she reminisced her years at UConn from 1998 to 2002. In the piece, she specifically credited a 2001 Final Four loss to Notre Dame as a key moment in her development as a player. She even goes so far to say that the 2001-02 Huskies team may not be the way they were if they didn't lose in the national semifinals the previous year.
I get that it seems easy to pencil UConn for national championships every year. But the era of penciling UConn for national championships is in the year 2015, not 2001. When Bird was there, the Huskies were still well below their then-rival Tennessee Lady Vols in terms of overall reputation. In addition, the two championships that she won in 2000 and 2002 were UConn's second and third titles. That said, her time there was really a turning point for their program. And oh man, time flies!
Delle Donne's column was published last Tuesday. She started her piece on her short time at UConn, where she left due to homesickness before playing a game there. But she had no regrets. Delle Donne relished the chance to play for the Delaware Blue Hens, where she led them to their first NCAA Tournament berth in 2012, and a Sweet 16 berth in 2013. In fact, her most memorable game was in the second round of the Big Dance her senior year when the Blue Hens defeated the North Carolina Tar Heels.
Unlike some of her contemporaries like Maya Moore or Breanna Stewart who went outside their hometowns to play at a now-juggernaut UConn program, Delle Donne relished the chance to be the hometown hero. Sure, she didn't win a championship or even go to a Final Four, but it can also be at least as satisfying when one can make the impact she did for a mid major school.
What did you enjoy or learn about when Bird's and Delle Donne's columns? Let us know in the comments below.