"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
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.