Connecticut’s pride has won the heart of the world of sports and beyond with the 2017 UCONN Women’s Basketball Team winning the program’s one hundredth consecutive game in defeating 6th rank South Carolina by a score of 66-55. Make no mistake about this phenomenal winning streak. The Lady Huskies worked very hard training for this. And, it’s in the record books now, sure to ultimately make it to the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Among my favorite stories are the true tales revealing the successful accomplishments of ordinary people who develop their craft through personal dedication, a driving work ethic, and a sense of purpose. It’s where serious challenges are confronted as opportunities to achieve the dreams of greatness.
We have witnessed an astonishing and historic feat in Women’s College Basketball with UCONN repeatedly breaking its own winning streak accomplishments. And to his credit, to cushion the effect of an inevitable loss, Head Coach Gino Auriemma repeatedly reminds his team that no one wins every game forever. The Lady Huskies are not a super human species of athletes. They are the product of a unique basketball training system that instills players with a thorough knowledge of the fundamentals of the game and the application of the skills of mastery in daily drills. The program evolved from Auriemma’s decades of coaching experience supported by an outstanding coaching staff. Thus, motivated players steadily improve their athletic proficiency, speed, agility, physical dexterity, strength and knowledge of every inch of the court daily. They have learned that winning each game, one at a time, is the way to championships. Emerging from this methodology is a sharply honed set of team skills, perfected in every practice session and game with eyes sharply fixed on visual communication with their teammates.
The girls are recruited through years of careful scouting based on their athleticism, consistency, endurance and a passion to take on every trial as one more chance to perfect their craft. It is interesting to note that the pursuit of excellence flows quite naturally from the court into the classrooms and beyond through the same focused work ethic.
Behind the scenes, the secrets of the Huskies are their repetitive drills on the practice court working out each “assist” with a pass to a well-positioned scorer, or a three-player effort, making shots and rebounds from virtually out of nowhere, blocking and skillfully stealing the ball. The fans and sports commentators are amazed at their relentless efforts for each victory. More of the inside story is revealed in the TV interviews with Coach Auriemma analyzing the individual and collective performance of each game.
Art and science combine with disciplined experience and a passion for reaching for perfection in any sport, or for that matter, any endeavor. The Lady Huskies have captured the unqualified public respect for the development of their craft and their commitment to being focused on each moment of each game, one play at a time.
Today’s challenge is for us to influence our heirs to the future to believe in themselves and be inspired to greatness by the pace setters who have pursued the path to excellence beyond their own imagined potential.
Consider the possibilities far beyond the field of sports. The world needs more champions and the Lady Huskies are but one example of greatness as the prize of passion and steadfast dedication.
As published in Appleseed on February 17, 2017, in The Southington Citizen.
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