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Championship Stories

My Championship Story by: willthompson

I’m born and raised in the state of Virginia so that means that there is a high chance that I’m either a fan of Virginia or tech. Fortunately, both of my parents attended Virginia for college and I’ve been raised on Virginia athletics. I have season tickets to football and basketball games and I show my support any time I can. I’m 16 years old currently, and I’ve been a Virginia fan for every second of my life. Basketball was always my favorite sport to watch and I grew up playing basketball. I loved everything about the sport and I really enjoyed watching Sean Singletary, among other players like Mamadi Diane, JR Reynolds, etc. Of course, over the past 10+ years, Virginia basketball has been filled with post-season heartbreak.

My earliest memory of experiencing a big heartbreak was the loss to Tennessee in the 2nd round of the tournament in 2007. Everyone knows about the continuous heartbreaks that followed from Michigan State twice, to Syracuse, and finally, to UMBC. Every loss seemed to hurt worse and worse until the UMBC loss, which cut me incredibly deep as a fan of Virginia. I was at the game where they lost since it was in Charlotte which isn’t that far from my home in Virginia. I remember crying almost the entire drive back to my house, as I know most Virginia fans did. I live and die by Virginia basketball and to witness that loss in person, crushed my spirits. Coming into the 2018-19 season, I knew that a new type of hunger was instilled in the team and I couldn’t wait for the season to begin. The thing about Virginia basketball that is so special, is that every starter, besides Kihei, witnessed that loss and grew from it together. I knew this season was going to be special because of how determined the team was to exorcise the demons of the previous year. Making it to the tournament this year as a 1 seed was incredible, but very nerve wracking as well. I was nervous once I saw that Virginia was going to hold that 1 seed yet again, but I knew that the team was hoping for it, to take the first step in quieting the critics. I watched the Gardner Webb game on my school computer in it’s entirety, and there have been very few Virginia games that have made me so nervous. But like Coach Bennett says, the most faithful win, and with Virginia advancing to the 2nd round, myself and every other Virginia fan let out a victorious sigh of relief. Fast forward a couple of games and the elite 8 comes around. That game might’ve been my favorite game of the tournament in the way that everything happened. Carson Edwards played an incredible game but with Kyle and Ty playing amazing as well, I felt as if there was no way Virginia could lose the game. When the miraculous shot by Mamadi was about to happen, I was afraid to look at my tv. I have missed out some incredible shots due to being too nervous to watch, such as Darius Thompson’s shot over Wake Forest or Dre’s shot over Louisville last year. With that in mind, I wasn’t going to miss whatever was going to happen next. When the game finally finished, it took me a few days to digest the fact that Virginia had made it to the Final Four for the first time in my lifetime. I’m unable to describe exactly how I felt during the next two games because of how many emotions I felt. I watched both games by myself because it’s tough for me to watch it around other people, including my family. My mom is a very large pessimist during the games. She herself is a huge Virginia fan, considering she went there, but I think she acts very pessimistic during games so that she will be somewhat prepared if by some chance the game ends in a loss for Virginia, but I’m not really sure if that’s true. While watching it by myself I was by no means silent, but I did feel a little less stressed out without being surrounded by other people. As much as I wanted to be at the National Championship game, I figured that watching the game on my tv alone was going to be the next best thing. I had cried in sorrow over several Virginia games in the past, but nothing had ever moved me to tears of joy like the National Championship game did. As soon as the final horn sounded and Virginia was officially National Champions, I hit the ground crying tears of joy. I had never felt so happy over Virginia basketball, and I’m not sure, no matter the circumstances, if I will ever be as moved by a win as I was then. The day after the championship, I arrived at JPJ to welcome the team back. Seeing the tired smiles on the team’s faces, as well as the smiles of the fans standing with me, was a sight I will never forget. I went to the main celebration at Scott Stadium that weekend and experienced the same feelings of joy and accomplishment. It’s crazy how many people are dedicated to Virginia basketball and how amazing every fan is. I love the University of Virginia and experiencing the first National Championship was one of the best things ever. I even got to see Coach Bennett about a month after winning the National Championship, at a Virginia tennis match. I shook his hand and congratulated him on winning the National Championship. I’m sure so many people did what I had done while shaking his hand, but he genuinely looked very appreciative of me congratulating him. Talking to him and shaking his hand reaffirmed my belief that Coach Bennett was as good of a person as he was a basketball coach, which is very rare and amazing to see. After reading this response over, I can’t believe how long it is, but I just couldn’t express how I felt about this championship in a few sentences. I’m not sure if anyone will get around to reading this or if they do, have the patience to read this incredibly long response but I just feel so happy writing this right now because I’m reliving some of the feelings I had while I was experiencing this win for the first time. I love this school and the basketball team it has and I have immense enthusiasm every time I scream the words GO HOOS!

By: willthompson

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