Vikings on the heels of Monmouth

Last Saturday, Lawrence’s women’s and men’s basketball teams went up against our school’s rival, Monmouth College. Both teams worked hard and played well, as one can see in the scores. The games were close matches with the men’s basketball team winning just 60-56 and the women’s team losing by only 15 points, 66 to 51.

At the beginning of the game, the women’s basketball team was off to a rocky start, they only managed to score five points in the whole first quarter compared to their opponents who scored 27. Starting off strong is a crucial aspect of sports, especially when considering people’s mindsets. If a player gets their head stuck in the clouds or decides to throw in the towel, it is game over. This would have been easy for the women to do, considering how they were 22 points behind after the first quarter with three more to go.

Fortunately, the women’s team did not cast aside their determination. They scooped up their Lawrence pride and went to work. I interviewed a sophomore starter from the women’s team, number five, Maggie Gallagher. I asked Gallagher if her team knew that this was going to be a close game before the match started and asked how her team prepared for this game. She said, “I went into this game against Monmouth knowing that it would be tough game, because anytime you play a team in our conference it is going to be tough. I believe this to be so because of how competitive all the teams are. However, I do feel that we match up well and are a force to be reckoned with against any team in our conference. We prepared for the Monmouth game by having competitive practices and by going hard every day in everything we did and will do.”

Then, something remarkable happened, something that only an athlete would know. It is those times when you are in the locker room with your teammates, down by a certain amount, and you are looking at the clock thinking, “This is how much time we have left.” Then the coach comes in and they lay it to you straight and usually ask questions like: “Do you want it?”; “How badly do you want it?”; “How much are you willing to push yourself so you can achieve it?”

Winning is such a simple term and yet the hardest task to achieve, because you can go months without it. Sure, there are small victories, skills you learn and master. However, consistently winning, now that takes all the strength you got. And when you do finally get up there, maintaining it is the next hardest task because one wrong step and you can lose that top-tier spot. All it takes is one off day or one bad decision. You are one person, but it takes a team to win games.

The women’s basketball team only trailed by 10 points at the end of the third quarter, so I asked Gallagher what happened during halftime to help the team push and maintain their momentum. For Gallagher, it was having the right mindset and remaining positive. She said, “We knew that we were capable of playing so much better than what we were showing. We as a team talked about some of the issues that occurred during the first half and what we had to do in the second half to show that we are capable of competing with anyone. For me, it was telling myself what happened in the first half was over. I needed to let it go so I could move on and focus on the remaining half. What motivated me was saying to myself: “Now how am I going help my team in second half?’”

A neat thing about basketball is that they get to play everyone in the conference twice. This is not a luxury all sports get. Taking that into account, I asked Gallagher what she thought she and her teammates need to differently next time they play Monmouth in order to get a different result and end up on top. Maggie said, “I cannot wait to play Monmouth again to show them just how merciless and relentless of a team we can be. I think we did a lot of things well during that game, like having the stamina to push through and not give up when we were trailing behind by a lot in the beginning, and that is why we were able to comeback. One area I think that I need to work on is making shots during the game. The team’s long-term goal is to be a top contender in the conference and to do so we need to come out stronger at the beginning of the games.”

Every athlete has a reason for why they are playing a sport, whether its money, pride, loving the toxic fumes that come with competitiveness or just purely because it’s fun. I thought it was important to share Gallagher’s story. Gallagher started playing basketball in third grade and she still plays it because the game is fun to her and something she loves to do. She also enjoys her teammates, which is a crucial part to have especially in a team sport, but also in Gallagher’s because they are great friends and “they are what makes Basketball fun to [her].’”