I will never forget my introduction to college basketball. In 2006 Cabrini opened up its season against the second seed in division three hoops of that year, Wooster College. From the start, Wooster dominated the game; in fact to this day I have still never seen a better shooting performance by a team. They made an unbelievable 25 three pointers in 45 attempts crushing their school record and sending our team home with the first of 20 losses for the season.
After the game the team went back to the hotel and while watching a prerecorded broadcast of our game on television, the Fighting Scot’s announcer jeeringly remarked, “I don’t know what the weather is like in Radnor, but it’s raining tonight in Wooster.” I knew then and there that no matter what level of college basketball you play when things are going good they’re going good and when they’re bad, they’re real bad.
From the start I understood that Division III basketball was extremely competitive and only with hard work and team unity would a program find success.My first season at Cabrini was a roller coaster with more ups and downs than any team should ever go through. For me, I was just excited to be a part of the Cabrini program. I didn’t know if I would ever have the opportunity to play at the college level and just being a member of the team was a great feeling. However, by the end of the season the excitement and passion I had for the game was slipping away.
Losing games is never easy, but what was most upsetting was the entire operation. The entire program needed a change. After the last day of the season the coach who had recruited me from California was let go and I seriously doubted myself and whether I wanted to play basketball in the future.
Cabrini basketball has a great legacy and has produced many championship teams. But, when I walked around campus and told people I was on the basketball team they looked at me and said, “Oh well, you guys aren’t any good are you?” This was hard to handle. When a new coach was hired I hoped for the best, I hoped our team could improve. Not that wins were everything, but that we could at least come together and find a team bond. We did just that and our win count improved to 12.
I was on my way to study abroad in Spain. Awaiting the airline attendant to check my bags in JFK, my phone buzzed. I had a message. I listened to the message, and I could not believe it. Our coach who had helped us improve was leaving for another college. I walked on the plane and forgot about everything. Basketball was over for me then and there.
Oct. 15, 2008 came, the first day of practice my junior year. I ran up and down the court for about 10 minutes before I had to stop and throw up. The new coaching staff was highly unimpressed. They knew I hadn’t given anything to my conditioning in the offseason. For someone who was now an upperclassman, this way no way of being an example for the others on the team.
However, I stuck with it and to my delight our team was turning everything around. We were winning games, coming together and starting to put the Cabrini program back on the map. The season came to an end and although we failed to win a championship, losing to Gwynedd-Mercy College in the championship game, we all knew that if we came together the next year we would be the team to beat.
The past season at Cabrini has been one I will never forget. One thing you learn in playing a sport in college is that not one season is ever the same. You can never forecast how a new group of individuals will come together and play.
I knew in the off season that our team had improved with many new faces, but I did not know how much the additions would influence our team in a positive way. Although my playing time dropped, contributing on a winning team is all I could ever ask for. We had our best year at Cabrini during my four-year tenure and the light at the end of the tunnel finally shown through when I climbed the top of the ladder to cut down a piece of the championship net. All was worthwhile. My mind was at peace. We had reached our goal.
I decided to write this article not to inform others about my playing days at Cabrini, but to send a message that it’s worth committing yourself to something. Even though there are many times we doubt ourselves and we feel like quitting, if you hold on with all you’ve got and work hard, I believe all of us can accomplish our goals. I would have never been able to stick with basketball if I did not have the support of my family, friends and teammates. Without the encouragement of my coaches, fans and the entire community, my dreams would have vanquished a long time ago.
In a few hours, my team will depart for the NCAA tournament. This is a feat I never dreamed possible. No matter what happens in the tournament, I’m very proud of my team. I feel very honored and humbled to have ever worn the Cabrini jersey on my back.
At the end of the day, it is not about the wins and losses or who scores the most points. What I will remember for the rest of my life are the bus rides to and from games, the feeling I had in my stomach the moment I woke up on a big game day, and the high fives my teammates and I gave one another in warm up lines. I am so fortunate to have been a Cabrini Cavalier. I will support this program for the rest of my life. Thanks again to all of those who made this possible for me. Without you I would have never had the courage to be here in the first place.