What UGA Football Can Learn From UVA Basketball

What UGA Football Can Learn From UVA Basketball

Two schools with a history of athletic pain-- is it coming to an end?

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The Universities of Georgia and Virginia are very similar schools. They're both renowned for academics, are situated in awesome college towns, and are big state schools that draw the best and brightest from their respective regions. The one area where most people would find the biggest difference between UGA and UVA is athletics. I mean, Sanford is rocking with 90,000+ on a Saturday, while Scott Stadium at UVA is lucky to have 40,000. UVA's basketball team is consistently ranked in the top-10, while ours has endured a longstanding drought (ending soon though thank you, Tom).

Dig a little past the surface, however, and you'll be able to draw countless comparisons between Georgia Football and Virginia Basketball. Both teams have had consistent regular season success, with wins in high-level bowl games and the NCAA tournament respectively. However, neither team has been able to come out on top-- until April 8th, 2019. The University of Virginia defeated Texas Tech in the national championship, and in doing so taught teams around the country, but specifically our Dawgs, a couple of lessons.

Losing with grace will pay off.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar once said, "You can't win unless you learn how to lose." Cheesy and cliché, but oh so true. Last year, UVA made history as the first ever one-seed to lose in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Were they upset? Yes. Were they angry? Yes. Were they embarrassed? Yes. But, the difference between that Virginia team and most, is that they felt all of these emotions with grace. Head Coach Tony Bennett, who many have called the definition of class, simply said "that's life" and sent his congratulations to UMBC and their basketball program following the game. Their maturity through defeat is what allowed their win this week to feel so amazing.

While not quite as history-making as the UVA men's defeat to UMBC, Georgia football has had a tough go of things the last couple of years. From narrowly losing to Alabama in the 2017-18 National Championship, to being (wrongfully?) excluded from the CFP in 2018 then losing to a 9-4 Texas team in the Sugar Bowl, the Dawgs have suffered through their fair share of defeat. The difference, however, is the youthful Georgia Football team (and fans, I myself am guilty) didn't quite handle these crushing defeats as well as Virginia Basketball did. From the time we were excluded from the CFP to the end of the Texas game, we talked trash. We were insulted to even be playing Texas, and we showed it, making our defeat all the more embarrassing.

This UVA team taught us to lose with grace, for it will make your win all the sweeter.

Resilience.

If you were to look up resilience on Google, you would find the definition to be "the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness." If you ask me, being the first number one overall seed to lose to a number sixteen seed in NCAA history, and then returning the next season to win the national championship plays into that definition pretty well. Would it have been easy for them to hang their heads in shame, especially the guys who suffered through that defeat last year? Obviously. But instead, with seasoned, headstrong leadership from Tony Bennett plus Ty Jerome, Kyle Guy, and De'Andre Hunter, they maintained faith in their work and went from rock-bottom to the highest peak. Do I sense a 30 for 30 in the making?

Georgia football is already halfway there. This team isn't coming from rock bottom. After all, getting shut out of the playoff and losing the Sugar Bowl to two talented Big 12 teams isn't the worst possible thing that could've happened. The Dawgs have already shown that they're capable of bouncing back, as they still had an amazing season last year despite the crushing defeat to Alabama just one year prior in the National Championship. What the Dawgs can do now, however, is look to leaders like the UVA men had. Take the defeat in stride, and bounce back better than ever. I think us fans can take a few of those lessons too.

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Everything The Student Athlete Loses When They Move On From Sports

Enjoy it while it lasts.

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We used to call it "flipping the switch." You would go through eight hours of school (somehow) and then your mentality would automatically change. The worries and stress from the school day would dwindle as you put on your cleats and begin to warm up. Anything that was going on in your life didn't matter when you hit the dirt. You create lifelong friendships with the girls you spent every day with for months at a time. Teammates who see you susceptible after a bad game and on cloud nine after one of your bests.

You develop a routine and superstitions. Hitting your bat on the inside of your cleat before you hit, chewing a certain type of gum on the volleyball court, how many times you spin the ball before you shoot a free throw, whatever your quirk was, you 100% believed it would make you play better. You practice in your free time with your dad, devote three to five months of your school year to a team, and play all summer long with your travel team as you live off hotel breakfast. Then one day, it's all over.

It is a feeling that nobody can prepare you for. They say enjoy it while it lasts but you never really understand what you'll be walking away from when you play your last game and hang it up for good. You lose a part of yourself when you're no longer an athlete. I forgot what it feels like to be competitive and be a part of something that is bigger than myself. It has been two years since I've played my last softball game and not a day goes by when I don't miss it. I didn't play because I wanted to go pro or even to the collegiate level, but I played because it was an escape and helped me become who I am.

You begin to forget what it felt like to hit the sweet spot on a bat, what it sounded like to have an audience cheer for you as you stand alone on second base and see your family in the stands, to hear the metal spikes of your cleats on concrete when walking in the dugout. It's simple things about the game you love that brought you pure joy and an escape from the world and the thoughts in your head. Batting practice was always mine. Focusing on nothing but the next pitch and how hard I could hit it.

When you have to watch the game from the other side of the fence, you realize how much pressure you put on yourself when you played. It's just a game. Make as many memories as you can and enjoy every inning because when you leave sports behind you have to find your inner athlete in other things. Create a workout routine, joining a club sport or intramurals, or even becoming a coach. As much as I miss the sport, I am thankful for everything it brought me. It taught me how to be a good friend, respect others around me, and to push myself to discover what I was capable of.

So, enjoy it while it lasts.

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A Return For Rob Gronkowski Is Closer Than It Appears

It would not come as a complete surprise if Gronkowski decides to return from retirement

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I am going to come out on a limb here and say this, but I would be remiss if I did not declare that Rob Gronkowski and retirement do not sit well. Almost to the point where I could see him coming out of retirement before the start of the 2019 NFL season. Just like Michael Jordan did (more than once), just like Brett Farve did, and just like Roger Clemens did, if you say you are "retired" it does not necessarily mean that you are for good.

Better known as "Gronk," the former Patriots tight end Gronkowski announced his retirement at the end of this last season after the Patriots won the Super Bowl. Gronk's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, told Peter King that it wouldn't shock him if Gronkowski decided to come back before the year is over. We have been made aware that the wear and tear on Gronk's body has worn him down through the years. However, maybe after several months off for some R&R; he might be persuaded to come back sometime during next season.

At 29 years old, Rob is still very young so it wouldn't be out of the question to rule out a return to the NFL entirely. If Tom Brady is struggling without his big target and expresses this to Gronk, it would be a real possibility he could return to help out his former teammates. Not only that but Gronkowski is a winner through and through. If his team is not playing to the standard he believes they are capable of doing, he certainly will not ride off quietly into the sunset. He will express his dissatisfaction to coach Bill Belichick and owner Robert Kraft who surely will do something about it.

We have seen it been done before, football players coming back to the NFL after retiring. The most recent of examples is Jason Witten; the former Pro-Bowler announced earlier this year he is coming back to the NFL after spending one season on Monday Night Football as a TV analyst.

Another recent example is Marshawn Lynch. The Seattle running back also retired at 29 years old, which is longer than the usual shelf life of most running backs in the NFL. After retirement, he requested that the Seattle Seahawks trade his rights to his hometown Oakland Raiders so he could come back to the NFL but with a new uniform.

Of course, Gronk is enjoying his retirement as of now. He definitely has the personality of the life of the party. It's not uncommon to see videos of him dancing at parties on different social media platforms.

While I don't like the Patriots, and remember how annoying it was to see Brady and Gronk march down the field, he was a top-tier athlete. Gronk made a great decision to go out after a Super Bowl win and seeing his competitive nature, I don't think he would have it any other way. We will have to wait and see, but I think there is a real chance that we haven't seen the last of Gronk suiting up and taking the field.

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