Has This Year's March Madness Busted Your Bracket?

Has This Year's March Madness Busted Your Bracket?

March Madness is back!
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The greatest time of year has finally arrived. Prepare yourselves, and get ready for your brackets to get busted, because it's March Madness! Every year, millions of people across America crowd around their TV's on Selection Sunday, with high hopes that their team will make it into the NCAA March Madness Tournament. It's a time of excitement and frustration, especially when all 68 teams are selected, and it's time to fill out a bracket. This year is anticipated to be especially mad, because of all of the upsets that shocked the nation in regular season play.

Villanova and Duke, two incredible programs in the world of college basketball, were defeated by St. John's, who seemed to pose no threat. NC State defeated UNC, Duke and Virginia consecutively. Not to mention, all of these teams are in the ACC which is arguably the toughest conference in college basketball. And let's not forget that unranked Wofford defeated the defending national champions, the University of North Carolina Tar Heels.

It's safe to say that with all the madness in the regular season, any team has a shot at claiming the title. Analyists have contrasting brackets, but there seems to be some agreement on three teams to take it all. Virginia, 17-1 in the ACC during regular season, Duke, with the number one high school prospect Marvin Bagley, and the Michigan State Spartans who defeated the defending national champions by 20 points in the beginning of the season. Some even projected #4 seed, Arizona to take the ship.

The tournament officially began this past Thursday, March 15, and there were, as always, some upsets that majorly busted people's brackets. The first one that shocked the nation seemed to be #13, Buffalo defeating Arizona by a major blowout. The Bisons made it through the first round, beating the Wildcats 89-68. This upset left many frustrated and at a loss for words, because almost no-one expected the wildcats to lose in the very first round. Some other upsets included Loyola-Chicago taking down Miami. BUT, just when you thought the madness couldn't possibly be anymore more mad... it did. For the first time in history, a #16 seed defeated a #1 seed. That's right...Virginia was taken down by UMBC 74-54. There are no words to describe how insane this victory is for UMBC.

With these upsets, it truly is anyone's title this year. But, this is what makes March Madness the greatest time of the year. Teams who feel like they have no shot do the unthinkable, and survive and advance. That, is the central theme of the tournament: survive and advance. One game at a time, and the tournament will come down to the remaining 4 teams in the Final Four. It's a long road, but whoever gets the privilege of cutting down the nets on April 2nd will have a night they will never forget.

So, prepare yourselves and get ready for the rest of the madness!

Cover Image Credit: Youtube

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To The Coach Who Ruined The Game For Me

We can't blame you completely, but no one has ever stood up to you before.
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I know you never gave it a second thought, the idea that you're the reason I and many others, never went any farther in our athletic careers.

I know you didn’t sincerely care about our mental health, as long as we were physically healthy and our bodies were working enough to play. It’s obvious your calling wasn’t coaching and you weren’t meant to work with young adults, some who look to you as a parent figure or a confidant.

I also know that if we were to express our concerns about the empty feeling we began to feel when we stepped onto the court, you wouldn’t have taken the conversation seriously because it wasn’t your problem.

I know we can't blame you completely, no one has ever stood up to you before. No one said anything when girls would spend their time in the locker room crying because of something that was said or when half the team considered quitting because it was just too much.

We can't get mad at the obvious favoritism because that’s how sports are played.

Politics plays a huge role and if you want playing time, you have to know who to befriend. We CAN get mad at the obvious mistreatment, the empty threats, the verbal abuse, “it's not what you say, its how you say it.”

We can get mad because a sport that we loved so deeply and had such passion for, was taken away from us single-handedly by an adult who does not care. I know a paycheck meant more to you than our wellbeing, and I know in a few years you probably won’t even remember who we are, but we will always remember.

We will remember how excited we used to get on game days and how passionate we were when we played. How we wanted to continue on with our athletic careers to the next level when playing was actually fun. We will also always remember the sly remarks, the obvious dislike from the one person who was supposed to support and encourage us.

We will always remember the day things began to change and our love for the game started to fade.

I hope that one day, for the sake of the young athletes who still have a passion for what they do, you change.

I hope those same athletes walk into practice excited for the day, to get better and improve, instead of walking in with anxiety and worrying about how much trouble they would get into that day. I hope those athletes play their game and don’t hold back when doing it, instead of playing safe, too afraid to get pulled and benched the rest of the season.

I hope they form an incredible bond with you, the kind of bond they tell their future children about, “That’s the coach who made a difference for me when I was growing up, she’s the reason I continued to play.”

I don’t blame you for everything that happened, we all made choices. I just hope that one day, you realize that what you're doing isn’t working. I hope you realize that before any more athletes get to the point of hating the game they once loved.

To the coach that ruined the game for me, I hope you change.

Cover Image Credit: Author's photo

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I'm Grateful My Dad Was My Coach, But I Wouldn't Want To Do It Again

It's not as great as it may sound.

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Soccer was always a huge part of my life. I started playing when I was 8-years old and I played on both the recreational and travel levels. Unfortunately, my sophomore year presented a scheduling conflict between soccer and theatre. So, at the end of my sophomore year, I made the decision to hang up my cleats and continue on with theatre.

In the almost 10 years on the field, however, I had quite the assortment of coaches. A coach who seemed like he couldn't be less thrilled to be in charge of a hoard of eight-year-olds, one who made us practice outside in the dead of winter and one who's pockets seemed to always be full of keys that would jingle all practice long.

But I've never had a coach quite as memorable as my dad.

Now, my dad has always been a big sports guy. He loves basketball, baseball, football and even golf, but he never really showed an interest in soccer, outside of watching me play. So when one of my old coaches was ejected from a game and it was either find a new coach in five minutes or forfeit, I was shocked to see Gary Hess volunteer. But he did, and from that moment on, my dad was my new coach. I had always wondered what it was like to have a parent as a coach. I had always imagined that it was a dream, you always had someone to practice with, you could help strategize for big games and you'd always be kind of a right-hand man on the field.

Boy was I wrong.

my dad was nothing if not a good coach. He had a good understanding of the game and he let us all try our hand at positions we were curious about but being his daughter presented some tricky situations. On more than one occasion, the short 15-minute ride from the soccer field back to our house after practice became a time for harsh critique and arguments that we often brought home to my mom... sorry mom.

That wasn't all though, I knew as an athlete that you were supposed to leave it all on the field. If your team won, soak it in and move on. If your team had a tough loss, be upset about it for a second and move on, but when your dad is your coach, it's a little harder to do.

After games I would get to hear all of his feedback, some good and some bad and even when his critiques weren't directed at me, they were directed at my teammates and friends and sometimes his harsh words and even his praise of other people was hard to hear. Of course, it didn't help that he stepped into the coaching job for a group of 14-year-olds who weren't always the easiest to deal with, me being probably the most difficult of all just because it's hard to separate your coach from your dad and your player from your daughter.

Despite our issues, we had a good time and as I got older and my dad got more comfortable with coaching and found his style, we were a much better team. We argued less, though every now and again we'd still but heads. I started to take direction more seriously and he started to understand how to communicate effectively with a group of young kids. We didn't ever have a superstar season but at the end of the day, we had a good time.

Good and bad, I wouldn't trade the years I spent playing soccer with my dad as the coach for anything. But if it came down to it again now I think I'd have to say thanks but no thanks. With that said though, he made me a better player and a better person so, thanks, dad.

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