The best time of year is rapidly approaching for one of most tightly knit sports teams on Stanford campus. Basketball is back this Saturday at 4 p.m. in Maples against UC San Diego, and the 14-player sisterhood that comprises the Stanford women’s basketball team is ready to shine even brighter than the spotlight of the 2017 Final Four in Dallas, Texas last season. Yet this year is unique, as each year is, and began about 6,000 miles east in Rome, Italy.
I still find it difficult to find the words to describe what it was like to be immersed in the rich and fascinating culture of Italy with 13 incredible sisters. Honestly, that is the best way to put it, and, the way we started our year. We defined this team as a family, where everyone is needed, and everyone has a place in the boat to row. Stanford Women’s Basketball and Italy. Name a more iconic duo. I’ll wait.
You may have heard about what a great run last year’s team had, and how great our seniors were. And truly, they were the epitome of great. However, this year’s team is just as great, and the greatness comes from our seniors, juniors, sophomores, freshmen and all of our coaches and staff. Comparison is all relative. This team is great in its own way, and we compare ourselves to our own standards and goals for the upcoming season. Last year’s goals don’t help us. Looking back can be pointless when we aren’t going that way.
Italy gave us the opportunity to refine and define roles on this team, and how each one of us contributes and is important. Tara always says that everyone is needed to get where we want to go, and that sense of feeling needed as a part of a family came from a connection we built on the pathway from Rome to Florence to Venice and back to Palo Alto. We were there to do business, but we were also there to continue building something that business doesn’t happen without. Here’s a little sneak peek:
If you were to ask any one of us what the first thing was that we learned about Italy, it would definitely be that there is no possible way that you could eat too much gelato. The second question then might be: “what is the difference between gelato and ice cream?” and the most logical and comprehensive answer I’ve heard is: “I dunno, it’s just better.”
We got stuck on the runway for four hours before our first connecting flight to Germany. Somehow, we all ended up clogging the aisles from floor to ceiling because we couldn’t be apart for more than 30 minutes. We spent layovers playing rather competitive card games together in the airport for hours without boredom. Once we arrived at each of our destinations we went out for dinner together and explored what each city’s culture had to offer. We took and posted more photos of each other than of ourselves individually. On our way to Venice, thick clouds of rain poured down on violent white waves and our little boats as they tried to make their way through some of the narrowest water ways and streets I’ve ever seen. It would have made sense to have been miserable about being soaked right through our clothes, but instead, we woke up the street life with laughter as we wound (with our massive suitcases might I add) our way around hundreds of tourists scurrying to get somewhere dry. We embraced the adversity. The day we left Italy was an early morning, and as we boated to the airport the sunrise reflected off of our faces and sprinkled glitter across the boat top and the waves. It was an illuminating spotlight; one we hope to be all too familiar with once again this year.
Contact Mikaela Brewer at mbrewer8 ‘at’ stanford.edu.