​A Love Letter to the 2018 Women’s Final Four

I’ve written several times about my daughter’s passion for basketball and support specifically of the women’s game. Because of this passion, I took her to the Women’s Sweet Sixteen in Bridgeport, CT last year. It was so fun to witness the Women’s NCAA Tournament in person. I knew we were destined to attend more tournament games after witnessing my daughter’s joy. It was truly a sight to behold. 

So, my wife and I bought tickets to the 2018 Women’s Final Four in Columbus, Ohio, when they first became available about a year ago. And for nearly a year, my wife and I kept a secret from our daughter. We are not the type of parents who keep secrets from our child, but we had to keep this one, because we bought the tickets for her 7th birthday and wanted to surprise her. So many times we were tempted to reveal our plans, but held back. Waiting until her birthday was so worth it. The look of initial shock soon became sheer happiness. She kept chanting, “We’re going to the Final Four!” Although it did take a few days for her to process just what was happening. (Mainly that she was going to see the championship game as well!)

We hoped that our experience in Columbus would be memorable. Then, we arrived. All of our expectations were exceeded. For starters, we witnessed arguably the greatest Final Four weekend in women’s basketball history! But, in addition, what we felt was such warmth from those in attendance. It was a celebration of women’s basketball. To be surrounded by some of the current and former greats of the game and others who love and support women’s hoops was just beautiful. It was so important for my daughter who dreams of playing in the WNBA to be in this atmosphere. She not only watched excellent basketball, but got to talk about the game with experts, receive instruction from coaches, and celebrate the culmination of a wonderful 2017-2018 collegiate season. My daughter has not stopped smiling. On a personal note, no one ignorantly questioned why I was there. No one took unnecessary and unfair shots at women’s basketball. They just saw my daughter’s perpetual smile, witnessed her knowledge of basketball, and wished her a happy birthday. For these reasons, I feel the need to thank the NCAA and all those involved with the Women’s Final Four for the impact they had on my daughter over the course of the Final Four weekend. In fact, the impact will last even longer than just that weekend. All three of us feel blessed, and our hearts are full.

Thank you Columbus for being such a gracious host. Everywhere we went, people were so polite to us. We value that a great deal.

Thank you NCAA for Tourney Town, a place my daughter would now like to live. You offered once in a lifetime experiences, fun activities, and rich, important discussions. My daughter’s life has been changed.

Thank you Notre Dame for your spirited run to a National Championship. You played two games for the ages. Wow!

Thank you to Arike Ogunbowale of Notre Dame for closing out those two games in such exciting fashion. Wow, again! You are rightly a legend now. And thanks for smiling and waving at my daughter after the championship game. She will never forget that.

Thank you, Game of Basketball. You are even more amazing after those three games.

Thank you to the WNBA and its current and former players for being so accessible during the weekend.

Thank you Stefanie Dolson for trying really hard to teach my daughter the Cabbage Patch. She still can’t do it, but that’s not on you.

Thank you Moriah Jefferson for your support of my daughter during a game called Musical Basketball. Camilla was the youngest kid in the game, but wanted to give it a go. 

A most special thanks to Briann January. You should know that the time you spent with my daughter has impacted her a great deal. She responded to the way you challenged her during her time rebounding for you, pushing herself to new heights. Now she knows she is capable of much more on the court. 

Thank you and congrats on reaching the Basketball Hall of Fame to Katie Smith. You have been so supportive of my daughter and her basketball journey. We are excited to support you now as head coach of the New York Liberty.

Thank you to PAC-12 coaches Tara VanDerveer and Kelly Graves for your time.

Thank you Tasha Harris and the Division 3 coaches who worked early morning Basketball clinic. My daughter learned a lot. And somehow walked away with an awesome Women’s Final Four backpack. 

Thank you LaChina Robinson for your awesome podcast, Around the Rim, and for allowing Camilla to ask a question on the show. 

Thank you A’ja Wilson and your parents for taking time to chat with all three of us. Camilla has a better understanding of how it felt for you to win a National Championship with South Carolina.

Thank you Sabrina Ionescu for offering advice on playing point guard. We look forward to watching you play next season. 

Thank you Kelsey Mitchell and Kalani Brown for taking photos and answering questions. Your generosity and spirit are appreciated.

Thank you Final Four Bounce. My daughter was quite excited to dribble down the middle of a street. Safely, of course. 

Thank you to all of the women who showed my daughter that a love of the game is a righteous love. And that there are careers connected with basketball after a playing career.

Maybe we’ll do it all over again in Tampa next year? Or maybe we will just continue to revel in this year’s experience? We shall see . . .