Forty minutes after turning on my recorder, Rebecca Lobo, ESPN analyst and star of the 1995 UConn championship team, stopped talking to reporters.
Her answers to questions ranged from thoughts on UConn’s chances, specific players, such as Breanna Stewart and Moriah Jefferson, and coach Geno Auriemma. She also rightfully disdained people who criticized UConn’s domination and how it is bad for the game.
In short, I came away from that interview much smarter and more enlightened regarding the ins and outs (there aren’t many) of UConn’s game and women’s basketball history in general.
One of the biggest reasons I chose journalism, and specifically sports, is because of the range of human emotions and the pure, unscripted human experiences involved. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find more compelling human interest stories anywhere than at the NCAA Final Four, women’s or men’s. I’d go further and argue that with the women’s slightly lower profile, Indy and Bankers Life Fieldhouse had the most concentrated mix of emotions and experiences of any place in the world.
My IUPUI colleague wrote about Washington’s Katie Collier, who overcame cancer and an ACL injury to reach this point in her college career. I wrote about Jefferson, who won five homeschool national championships and is on the verge of winning a fourth college national championship. Oregon State reached the first Final Four in program history. And Syracuse steamrolled past Washington by double-digits in the semifinal and now faces UConn as Goliath on Tuesday night.
Lobo’s grin widened as she talked about the eccentricities of Auriemma. She spoke with emotion on the storied legacy she was a part of at UConn, even 20 years later.
All of the above is why I love what I do. Why I continue to do it despite the late nights, the early mornings, and the walking in circles at Bankers Life in heels (ok, that one is my fault for getting lost).
The world of sports is the only avenue in which there is always a winner, always a positive. While there is always a losing locker room, right down the hall there is a victorious locker room of kids, young adults, or professionals who are ecstatic. And for that losing locker room? There’s always hope. There’s always another game, another chance.
My story tally for Saturday alone was four, easily the most stories I’ve written in that time frame, and probably the first time I’ve ever offered up a silent prayer for the invention of the laptop.
While I’ve gained valuable skills and experience at each event I’ve covered, this Women’s Final Four has been the most fun. The pure energy running through the arena is infections and I hope I never lose that feeling as I continue my career.
I’m getting ready to graduate in 36 days. I look back at my four years and I’m amazed at the experiences I’ve had that I didn’t even dream of when I walked into freshman orientation. I’m so grateful to my program for allowing me these opportunities to prove to myself that yes, I can make it in this business and what’s more, I’m going to truly love my career.
— Rebecca Harris | @MsRebeccaHarris