Cavaliers Nab National Championship After Heartbreak

Cavaliers Nab National Championship After Heartbreak

"If you learn to use it right, the adversity, it will buy you a ticket to a place you couldn't have gone any other way." — UVA Coach Tony Bennet

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One year and 23 days is all it took for the University of Virginia Men's Basketball team to earn a glorious redemption. The journey along the way was accompanied by many tears, heartache, dedication, hard work, and amazing coaching.

After a devastating loss to a number 16 seed team, UMBC, just over a year ago, the UVA Men's Basketball team took a hard hit; and not just from their pride and spirit from such a devastating loss, but also from the outside world. They became the first number one seed to lose to a number 16 seed in NCAA history. In a 'Sports Illustrated' article done by Andy Staples, he wrote a moving piece on Kyle Guy, Virginia's point guard. Guy became the face of the loss due to the image of him hanging his head in shame, while UMBC celebrates their victory on the court. After this image became viral, Guy became the face for Virginia's historical and upsetting loss. In the article, he expressed how this loss affected him and his teammates in more ways than one. He addressed his struggles with anxiety, especially after such a major loss. He relied heavily on his fiancé, family, team and coaches during this difficult time.

Guy shared that what happened on the court, was then haunting them in their everyday lives. After that historical game, outsiders and "fans" began to threaten them. Minutes after the loss, he shared that the players had to have police escort them back to their hotel because they were receiving death threats. With concerns from loved ones, Guy shared a touching conversation with his mother, Katy Fitzgerald. She had asked him how he was doing; he responded with: "A bend in the road isn't the end of the road unless you fail to make the turn." Her response was, "What if I told you not to worry, because when you feel like you're drowning, fear not, your lifeguard walks on water."

After a lot of late-night practices, continuous support, never-ending dedication and much-needed recovery, these men came back and fought even harder; not letting their past define them. They became a new team and won another ACC regular-season title and earn another number one seed. The 2018 tournament loss was a driving force of motivation for this team for the 2019 tournament, and for anyone who watched the NCAA National Championship game, their motivation and determination showed. Virginia beat number three seed, Texas Tech in overtime, 85-77. The Virginia Men's Basketball team came back stronger than ever and won it all.

I would call them a team, but it is very clear these gentlemen are more like a family. Through the continuous support, appreciation and love they show for each other; they are truly an inspiring group of men. This is an inspiring story of the journey of life not always being easy, but definitely being well worth it. These athletes took one of life's sourest lemons and truly turned it into some very sweet lemonade, and that is a lesson worth remembering.

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Trust Me, You're Going To Miss It

Yeah, cheerleading is its own kind of Hell, but don't take it for granted.
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Last week, I spent close to three hours watching videos from the recent Cheersport Nationals, a huge cheerleading competition held in Atlanta, GA.

As an ex-cheerleader, one that cheered for close to 11 years, I felt the familiar ache in my stomach watching all the teams I had grown up watching and idolizing take the stage I had taken so many times in Atlanta. As I watched the excitement of the crowd and felt the adrenaline through the computer screen, I realized something that I hadn't thought about in years: I would never have that feeling again.

And while I gave up cheerleading willingly, and pretty happily, I hardly ever thought about all the old memories and feelings I associated with the big bows, tight uniforms and copious amounts of glitter. But now, for the first time in years, I felt sad to not be up on the stage with all of the other athletes, doing something that had driven me absolutely insane at times but that had also been such a huge part in my life.

Take it from me, an old washed up cheerleader, that would probably break half the bones in my body if I even attempted a front walkover, you will miss cheerleading. It doesn't matter if you're an all-star that grew up in a gym, or a high-schooler that fell in love with the sport while on the sidelines, a part of you will always wish you could walk back onto that stage and compete just one more time.

I and every other retired cheerleader will attest to it: You're going to miss it.

You're going to miss the love/hate relationship you have with your coaches after they've been screaming at you for the better part of two hours.

You're going to miss the bond you have with your teammates, some that you won't see again after that last competition.

You're going to miss the ache in your feet associated with convention centers, and all the naps you took on their hard, concrete floors.

You're going to miss the headache from your ponytail, and having everything you own be covered in glitter for months at a time.

You're going to miss that feeling you get in the split second between "It's on," and when the music and that first 8-count starts. The feeling that makes you feel as though you're going to throw up, not be able to move, and forget your entire routine all at once.

But most of all, you're going to miss the feeling after you hit the routine you and your team have been practicing for months and the adrenaline high that comes with it. The feeling of being on top of the world, that's a drug in itself.

SEE ALSO: 20 Signs You Were A High School Cheerleader

So, while you have it, enjoy it. Because there are hundreds of ex-athletes that would absolutely kill to experience just one of those feelings again, and you get to have all of them.

Cover Image Credit: swishaaasweets.tumblr

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It's Been A Year And I Still Miss It

The memories with my teammates and coaches are remembered everyday.

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Never thought I'd say it but here I am. I am happy to say I am proud to be where I am today but the thoughts of never playing a sport again linger in my mind. Those emotions of anticipation and excitement when it comes to playing a sport are long gone. Sad to say I will never have butterflies before running a race, floor burns all over my knees and sweat mixed with softball dirt all over me.

The little aspects that I took for granted are what I remember the most. I am who I am today because of my coaches and teammates. Each and every sport came with a support system to fall back on and friendships that would last a lifetime. My coaches and teammates taught me life long skills that I will carry with me forever. They taught me the true meaning of dedication, teamwork, perseverance and respect. Yes, I love the game but the connections and memories I have built have impacted me. Especially, the times I have created with my teammates and coaches on the bus rides, practices and game days.

Those are the moments I will never get back. I will never forget the times my volleyball teammates and I would run over to Perkins after a win. We would eat junkie, greasy food till our tummies were full but during those moments we were all owning the moment while being young and careless. Even during track season my teammates and I found time to have fun while running rigorous workouts. I will never forget the mid-dance parties during track meets to keep our mind off of the stress of performing to our best ability. Softball season always seemed to be on the road, which meant plenty of bus rides with my teammates. Those hours of traveling were the best from the never have I ever games to singing along to great hits.

I will never get the chance again to compete in front of a crowd. The cheers and the roars of the fans is such a surreal feeling. Running on the blue oval was something I will never forget. As much as I hated the queasy, uneasy feelings before running, I would go back for it one more time. Stepping foot on the blue oval meant a great athlete once took those same steps I did. The moment my teammates, coaches and I clinched the win to go to State for the first time in school history was unbelievable. It was an accomplishment for us seniors, for our coaches, for our families and fans, for our school and for the past softball players. We did something that was never done before in school history and all I can say is I'm proud to have done it with the group of girls that I did.

Getting to state and playing with the best of the best is remarkable but what seemed to be even better was getting a victory against a city rival. Everyone came out for those games from grandparents to students to alumni. Our best performances were amongst us when competing against city rivals. Particularly, through volleyball, my teammates and I seemed to be hungrier for a win whenever it was a city rival. I guess, the best moments happened when we beat a cross-town rival. You could say we got bragging rights for the year.

To all the athletes out there competing in their last game, last match or last race, relish in those last seconds because before you know it you will never pick up a ball again, race in a relay or dance after a victory.

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