As we get ready for the women's basketball home finale at 2 p.m. Saturday, I'd like to echo a lot of what Tommy G already has written about this team and these seniors (you can read his latest blog here: http://www.gobearcats.com/blog/womens-hoops/ ). When this group was starting out, I was calling a number of their games for ESPN regional telecasts, and I had the opportunity to see them grow over the years. With the help of Sports Information Director extraordinaire Jeremy Martin, here are some of the comments of these four seniors who will play their last game on their home court this weekend:
Shelly Bellman: "There have been happy times and sad, good, bad and ugly, but three words can sum it all up for me, I am blessed! Thank you to everyone that has been with me through different parts of my journey, and thank you to everyone that has been with me through it all. And thank you God!"
Shelly was one of the players I think I had the most fun watching when she was a freshman. She would get in the huddle and, even though she was a first year player, would get in the faces of her upperclassmen teammates and will them to a win. I always called her the Pete Rose of the Bearcats because of her hustle and heart. It was just too sad that her knees weren't as strong as her desire to be her best.
Michelle Jones: "It's been very nice to play at UC. I was born and raised here, so it's been great to have my family at games and things like that. It was also great that UC got into the BIG EAST. Playing against that kind of competition is difficult but also very enticing for recruits and that's one of the things that brought me here."
Michelle has been the inside force that the Bearcats needed this year. It's no secret that right now UC doesn't have the height to match up with many of the BIG EAST teams they face, so Michelle has had to be the 6'4" center in 6'1" sneakers. She took this challenge on, like many others during her UC career, and has come out stronger for it.
Kahla Roudebush: "I wouldn't trade my time at UC for anything. The things that I learned translate into important life lessons. It's always easier when things are laid out for you, but much more satisfying when you have to work for them. God had a plan for me and if I would have changed something just looking for a shortcut to success, I wouldn't have grown as much as a person and as a Christian."
Kahla is my Hoosier soul sister. We are very proud of our basketball heritage in Indiana and are proud of anyone who takes his or her game to the next level. Kahla has a sweet step back three point shot, but she's also not afraid to dive into the middle and dig out a rebound. You've made your fellow Hoosiers proud, Kahla.
Stephanie Stevens:"I love Cincinnati. I love everything about it -- the school, the academics, the athletics. I've always been a team player, and I always want to do what's best for the team. I just want to be the best I can be for the team, and I always just wanted to get better."
Stephanie hasn't gotten the minutes this season like she has in years past. I say that to set up the very quick story about her. Before the season started, Coach Jamelle Elliott invited members of the media to participate in a workout with the team. Of course, I had no idea what I was doing and heaven knows it showed, but Steph not only was very kind to tell me 'good job,' (when I knew it wasn't), but once we were done I watched her put every ounce of energy into the rest of the team drills. She'll make a good coach, if that is something she wants to do, because she always paid attention to what else was going on and what everyone else was doing.
So perhaps these players didn't get the Bearcat career they had envisioned as wide-eyed freshmen. That doesn't mean they weren't successful. When they look back at their time at UC, let's hope that they look back at their seasons here fondly. And let's hope they remember that they were the foundation to build something special with this program in Clifton. Saturday at 2pm, they'll put on the Bearcat uniform for the last time at home. Let's show them how grateful we are for their years at U.C.