It was worth the heart attacks. Running out into the corner at full speed at midnight on Monday, April 8th was the epitome of happiness for our entire university. Everyone was screaming, although almost being trampled to death and covered in beer, sweat, and happy tears.
When I first got my acceptance letter to the University of Virginia, it was the beginning of basketball season. I immediately began following every game, counting down the days until our next win would happen. I began to love the sport- one I had never cared for previously. I recognized the names Kyle Guy, Ty Jerome, and De'andre Hunter. What I didn't recognize, however, was that these student-athletes worked harder than I thought was imaginable to win the title of ACC Champion, all under the scrutinizing pressure of the media while being full-time students. When the team lost the UMBC, my heart broke as I watched their faces drop and their attitudes as well. Tony Bennett, as usual, was humbled to say that they would fight back the next year, and this loss did not define the team.
November 6th, 2018, we played Towson in our first home game. I attended and was immediately in awe. I knew I would be a lifelong fan. I could name every player and started to recognize their strengths. I went to as many games as I could, and I was hooked. I didn't realize how resilient these student-athletes are until the first game of March Madness, when we were down 14 points at the half to another 16-seed team, only to end up winning by 20. Then Oklahoma came with another win. I began to panic as I had never experienced seeing a team I had grown to love so much in the Sweet 16 round of the tournament, against the lengthy players of the Oregon Ducks. Another win happened, and I realized I was a full-on basketball addict. Then came Purdue. My heart was beating at an alarmingly high rate as I thought the season was over. But the heart-stopping, incredibly talented pass from Kihei Clark to Mamadi Diakite with a 2-pointer that sent the game into overtime made me erupt into screams and happy tears. Another win, and on to the Final Four. I was with my family watching this game and had to step away to what I thought was an end to the season. The basketball Gods were truly shining down on Virginia with a foul on Guy's three-pointer. I watched him make all three of what was probably the most stressful few moments for him, under the pressure of the media that told Virginia they couldn't do it. Kyle Guy had opened up on his struggle with anxiety, yet he truly showed resilience in the face of intense pressure that was truly unparalleled.
Gameday. I thought we had this one in the bag, yet once again Virginia Basketball gave everyone a heart attack with a three-pointer by De'andre Hunter sending the game into overtime. We did it with a strong finish. I could not believe it. I felt joy not only in the pride I had in this team but for their humbling resilience in the face of failure from last year. The Virginia Basketball team truly deserved this win like no other, and their resilience can be used as a lesson for anyone and everyone struggling with failure.