Okay, the madness is getting too much for me as I am watching the forming of the Final Four contest. My bracket is suffering with my only Final Four pick, Villanova, surviving. Still waiting to see if North Carolina pulls it out. Of course, I had already underestimated Missouri and had Memphis going all the way to the Final Four. Now, Louisville just lost to Michigan State! I am waiting with baited breathe to see the final game today.
But, along with the agony come some pretty neat surprises. We have seen some major upsets during the tournament. For every team that was predicted to be a shoe-in for the semifinals, there is the underdog who everyone wrote off. Many of these teams have come much farther than anyone expected. It is really great to see the joy on the faces of these teams who went the extra mile and pulled out the upsets. Some inspiring examples are: #12 Arizona pulled out a win over #5 Utah; #13 Cleveland State overcame the odds to win over the powerhouse of #4 Wake Forest; #10USC won over #7 Boston College. There are many other examples of these even before the madness began.
But, even more interesting to me are the personal stories of some of these athletes. It is so wonderful to see some of our homegrown players make a place for themselves with some well respected college teams. Some of these great athletes whom I have had the opportunity to meet and watch are from our own Gwinnett County schools. It is so nice to see the powerhouse Alfarouq Aminu (Norcross High School) who I watched run over my own Northview team has become a stand-out freshman at Wake Forest and Wesley Witherspoon (Berkmar High School) who is now playing at Memphis. On the women’s side, we have Maya Moore (Collins Hill High School) who is a valuable player with UConn.
But my favorite is Chris Allen (Medowcreek High School) who now a freshman with Final Four contender, Michigan State. I had the opportunity to meet Chris when I saw him play his senior year. Chris Allen is an impressive athlete but he is a more impressive young man. I was immediately impressed with his poise and charm even as he was certain to be contender for a place on a D1 college team. I am proud to say that I “saw him when” and am very excited to see his team make it this far.
Yes, I am a softy girl, but I love these inspiring personal stories that come even with the best of teams. Many of these accomplish athletes had humble beginnings and should be proud. I know we are all proud of them.