Welcome back from spring break. While it was hardly “spring” weather — and, if you took a break from schoolwork, you’ve by now realized the error in your ways — nine consecutive days without class were still relatively enjoyable. Some of us went to Panama City Beach, where self-respect goes to die, some of us went home to boss our parents around for a week, and some of us stayed on campus and bonded with the squirrels. No matter where you went, or what you did, we were all connected this spring break by the College of William and Mary’s basketball program. No, that’s not a joke. I didn’t know it was possible to experience Tribe Pride so far removed from campus, let alone through an athletic program.
This was truly a dynamite and record-breaking season for both the men’s and women’s basketball teams. I won’t talk stats because frankly, I don’t know them and the specifics are not important. What’s more important here is that the majority of the College’s community was standing behind a collective goal for what seems like the first time in a while. The racial climate survey? “Necessary and important,” said one half of the student population. “This is dumb, I don’t see race,” said the other half. Another snow day? “Finally a day of relaxation,” said 42.3 percent of students, while the remaining percentage was outraged: “No, Swem is closed! Where will I study?”
We are a community often divided on issues ranging from the serious to comical, but when it was announced that the men’s basketball team was the top seeded team in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA), everyone could agree that was a proud moment. Even members of our community who don’t know the difference between a basketball and a hockey puck felt the Tribe Pride surge inside of them. Even if you are over the College and can’t wait to graduate, there’s no denying that, even if only for a moment, the pride welled up inside of you, like the Grinch’s heart. For once, our sports program was the talk of the town. Everyone knows that the College has an outstanding academic reputation filled with passionate professors and brilliant students, but did you know that we’re also a Division I school with incredible athletes? Now you do.
Something equally great about this magical basketball season is that whether in victory or defeat, the College retained our position as a highly respectable and proud community. In 2014, when both the men’s and the women’s basketball teams at the University of Connecticut won March Madness, a riot broke out on their campus. Yes, an actual riot featuring flipped cars, destroyed buildings, and, inevitably, the police, who probably had real crimes to solve instead of dealing with students rioting.
While school was not in session when Daniel Dixon ’17 scored the game winning shot in the tournament’s semi-finals game, I’m confident that students would never even dream of burning cars in Colonial Williamsburg for the sake of excitement. On the flip side, when we ultimately lost both tournaments, messages of support for our team poured out over social media from students, alumni and faculty alike. Instead of pushing the weight of our broken dreams on our team, we sought to lift them up.
We’re a smaller Divison I school; we understand that it’s not all about wins and losses, and that our players probably had six essays due that same week they tried to take home first place. For us, it’s more about the experience and watching our teams get more competitive year after year. We know and deeply understand the old saying, “there’s always next year,” because we have had to live by it. That’s nothing to be ashamed about either; humility in Division I athletics is rare to come by, but is nonetheless very valuable.
Please do not get the wrong impression. My views of Tribe Pride aren’t so myopic as to only focus on our athletic programs. Believe me, I know many of you would feel it if you tripped over a brick on your way to the Sir Christopher Wren Building. You were on the way to Wren after all, and that brick is part of history. I do recognize, however, that sometimes Tribe Pride is hard to define and even harder to bring out when were bogged down by midterms and the impending allergy season. This basketball season, however, I felt a universal definition and source of Tribe Pride, and while athletics aren’t everything, they certainly should not be counted out either.
Zoe Johnson is a Confusion Corner Columnist whose heart grew three sizes the day it was announced that the basketball team was the top seed in the CAA.