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The sophomore diaries: Looking back on Cancun

Grenfell is a sophomore public relations and management double major and can be contacted at carly.grenfell@drake.edu

Nothing says “Happy Thanksgiving” like sunshine and your toes in the sand.  Over the holiday break, the Drake women’s basketball team packed up for a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Cancun, Mexico. Although we were there for business, we made room for fun as well. From this incredible opportunity, I not only gained unforgettable memories, a suntan and stories to share, but I gained an entire new perspective on how privileged we are as Division I athletes.

We may not have had a cornucopia of turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing to feast on like most families on Thanksgiving, but what we experienced is something not many people can say they have. And it’s not at all about bragging rights; it’s about being grateful for what the collegiate athletic world has to offer. Obviously, bringing home a couple of wins would have made the trip even better. However, in retrospect, the opportunity to play two extremely talented teams was valuable in itself. If you don’t think there’s a way to see the good even in disappointing situations, I would have to disagree with you.

Someone tell me how playing basketball in a transformed ballroom isn’t awesome?  As we ended practice the day before our departure, and the maintenance crew began tearing down the bleachers, I got to thinking. You must love playing the game if you can compete in a next-to-empty gym and still be excited. That’s what it’s all about though — being excited. Better yet, it’s about being excited in knowing that every practice, game or trip is an opportunity that only a handful of people will encounter first-hand.

I recently read a blog excerpt written by Sherri Coale, the head women’s basketball coach at Oklahoma. The best thing I took from her writing was that “toughness isn’t ascertained, it’s revealed.”

Boy, is that true. Until you are placed in a certain situation, you never know who will fold or who will persevere. Sports in general can reveal a lot about someone. I guess the point I’m trying to make is that more than just toughness can be revealed through college athletics. I believe a huge part of that is simply recognizing the little things. When that happens, it’s hard to not be thankful.

In some sense, it’s sad that it took a five-day trip to Mexico to really spark my realizations. I’ve been aware of the small percentage of people in the world that play Division I basketball. I’ve been aware of all the perks that come with it. I’ve been aware that we play in front of the best fans in the Valley. But did I ever fully come to terms with the significance behind it? Not quite. We can complain about our long days at the gym, our short breaks (or lack thereof) and busy schedules all we want. I’m guilty of it myself. It’s so easy to find things to nitpick when in all reality we are some of the luckiest people out there.

It’s something to think about.


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