A Team That Believes in Change

by on April 8, 2021 · 1 comment

in From the Soul, Sports

by Ernie McCray

Wow! What a game!

A game that was truly anybody’s game as the University of Arizona Women Wildcat Basketball team lost to Stanford, 54 to 53.

A “March Madness” NCAA Championship game that ended like a well-crafted suspenseful drama where you really don’t know how it’s going to end until the very end of the last scene…

Oh, it was so much fun seeing those young athletes chasing their dream, steam rolling over one team like they were merely running drills, then scratching and crawling to get a win, then, voila, they were enjoying the thrill of being in the “Sweet Sixteen,” the “Elite Eight,” and the “Final Four,” rings on a ladder upon which no Wildcat women had ever climbed before.

And then along comes the waning seconds of the big game, with neither team on their game, but both getting after it in a test of will and grit, fighting to the very end – and they’re down one point with the ball in the hands of their outstanding All-American, and she, having been well defended all night as she was, in this moment, gets off a shot that missed the spot, went for naught, and Cardinal fans went nuts and the team stood in the rubble of a great season.

But man, they fought like Wildcats and I’m good with that.

And I like so much that this brilliant season they just had wasn’t put together by happenstance, that they and their magnificent coach devoted themselves to not only making a change in the way they played the game but also to making changes in their university and their community along the lines of honoring diversity and pursuing a just and equitable society.

They’re really fitting into this newer age of women’s sports which has changed drastically from a time not so long ago when girls weren’t encouraged to compete athletically except in the GAA (Girls Athletic Association) and P.E.

My mother used to talk about her high school basketball playing days in the early 20th Century when the game, like other games, were created with girls considered as the “weaker sex” who should, according to the mores of the time, never sweat, and they played on a court that was divided into sections and the ball could only be moved from section to section by passing or dribbling three times and you could only hold the ball for three seconds at a time and snatching or batting the ball away from another player was a no-no.

Needless to say there was not a lot of “Go! Go! Wildcats! Go!” in any section of that scenario. Seems you could get more exercise walking to the corner and back or running an errand at the store.

I can’t imagine today’s women basketball players being confined to the rules of yesterday when I see them fly down the court dishing no look passes, stealing passes, dribbling like crazy, sweating and swatting and snatching and blocking and shooting and screening all over the place…

Hey, the women from the U of A play the same game the dudes play. In a very entertaining way. A winning way.

And, as big a fan as I am of the way they play I also value them highly for being actively involved in making the hopeful changes our society needs desperately.

They’re, as they say today, “woke.” Very much so. Doing the things that create change: examining and questioning.

I could see that this past basketball season as they, and players from other institutions, spoke out openly regarding the facilities in their tournament being unequal to those enjoyed by the men. – with attitudes of “Don’t you dare do that again!”

Amen! It’s so refreshing to my spirit seeing a team from my university and my hometown doing their thing on the court and, at the same time, speaking out on things. Making changes in our troubled society.

And as a note I can’t help but think, knowing that each generation inherits ideas from what they see, that there are little girls out there who have been watching these Women Wildcats and, because of what they’ve seen, they will someday pursue athletic excellence and equality for all no matter their race, creed, ethnicity, gender, or sexuality. Effortlessly. Naturally. Faithfully.

Seeing this team act so beautifully and unselfishly, for me, is a wonderful sight to see.

I thank them for a season that will go down in University of Arizona sports history, a season that will forever be etched in my memory.

Photo University of Arizona

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Dave Baldwin April 9, 2021 at 1:10 am

Thanks for your great description of this University of Arizona Women’s Basketball Team, Ernie. I’m very proud of them!


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