A National Championship Through The Eyes Of A Freshman by Alyssa McDonough

McDONOUGH, Alyssa

After graduating from Sayreville High School I knew college was not going to be easy. I knew I was going to have to work ten times harder than normal to become a better player overall and make sure I focused on my grades because I know I was attending school for my education and ball. Coach Stone did not pay me to write that by the way! But anyways, being that I was the only incoming freshman I knew Coach Mitchell was going to be on my back about a lot of things since I was the backup point guard. Coach Mitchell and I bumped heads a little bit but what Coach and player doesn’t? In practice Coach Mitchell would always be on my back about the “little things” he would say. If I did not go in for the rebound I know what was coming out of his mouth already, “Alyssa, are you ball watching or are you going to play?”  Coach Mitchell gave me the green light for a lot on the court. Coach Mitchell always told me to shoot the ball when I was open and if I didn’t I knew I was going to be on the bench, or to make sure to keep attacking until someone stops me and if someone tries keep attacking! I have learned that playing for Coach Mitchell you better be up on the ball on defense, pressuring the ball, and a fast pace at all times. Not only did I have Coach Mitchell teach me my freshman year but I also had Jalessa Lewis who was the point guard I was a backup for.

Jalessa Lewis was a grad student who had a year left of eligibility and actually decided she was going to play another year even though she didn’t have too. Thankfully, I learned so much from Jalessa as a backup point guard and she taught me as much as she could. Jalessa was always the person I would go to if I didn’t understand something or if I needed advice on what was a better decision. Jalessa was a leader on the floor and being that I only had a year to play with her I took advantage of that as much as I could. Not only did Jalessa lead the team but she taught me everything she could so the following year I could lead the team as best as I could. Being that I am a sophomore now and having Jalessa as an assistant Coach benefits me because she is still the person I go to when I need advice. I will never forget when it was the Championship game and I was starting the second half and I go to Jalessa “I’m so nervous.” Jalessa goes “you don’t ever have to be nervous girl because they are probably just as nervous as you are so go out strong and then you will see that it’s just that simple.” Jalessa always kept her composure and for that I thank her for teaching me my freshman year.

Now, the best part about my freshman year, of course had to be going UNDEFEATED and winning a NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP! Being able to go 33-0 is a blessing and I could not ask for anything else my freshman year. Now, let’s not get it twisted, my team and I had to work for that. Every day except one day out of the week we had two hour practices and even after practice some of us would stay and shoot. I would do five spot shooting and have to make ten shots from each spot. Then I would have to make ten foul shots and then I could leave the gym. Of course I made Shalette Brown, my teammate and my best friend as well stay after with me and workout out too. If you guys don’t know Shalette she is lazy so of course you can imagine her complaining about me making her shoot and workout with me after a two hour practice. Let’s not forget that I got to win a championship with my best friend next to me on the court as well. Having Shalette on the team helped me out a lot as well too. She was always pushing me do to better, to shoot the ball, to pressure up always, and to always have confidence. So not only did my team and I go undefeated, we won a National Championship and made history.

Going through first round of NCCA’s we were able to host and New Jersey was never able to host. That was a great experience and I sometimes wonder what it would have been like to travel places instead of us hosting first round and second round, but I am actually glad we were home. We were in our home court and that is what boosted the team the most. Having home court advantage meant that we would not lose to no one on our court. The Messiah game was when we all refused to lose on our court and that’s when we all knew we were going for it all at the time. The energy from the crowd, the feeling of everyone watching us, boosted our adrenaline and being anywhere else wouldn’t have been the same. Maybe my sophomore I will have the opportunity to travel or maybe we will just be able to host again! Either way, I still had to opportunity to travel to Wisconsin which was amazing. First when we arrived to the hotel we received a gift basket and dunkin donuts from the NCCA. They had someone many planned events for us to do. We had community service and we got play with little kids that wanted our autographs and looked up to us. We had a game night with the other teams and played pool, foosball, and took silly pictures in the photo booth together. We had a NCCA Banquet where we had to get dressed up, have dinner with all the teams, and we had the two twins on my team get up and rap about “the road to the NCCA.” All of these events were special to me because who gets to experience this. Opportunities like this are once in a life time.

Being the only freshman on the team, going undefeated, and not knowing what it still feels like to lose is a blessing. I could not ask for another team or another Coaching staff I would have rather spent my freshman year with. I am grateful and now that I got a taste of one national championship, I want to win another. So now that we won one, we are going to have to put more time in the gym even more and hopefully make our way back there. I don’t want to settle for one national championship, and neither does my team nor coaches. We will all make sure we will continue our success just like our motto says. “AS ONE!”

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12 2014

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