A thank you letter to MSU Women's Basketball

There is no denying our women’s basketball team is electric and will be a legend at Mississippi State University for a long time.

I have not been this excited for MSU sports since my freshman year when we beat Auburn University in a home football game, sealing the program’s first number one ranking in history. Even then, that excitement was short lived.

I do not remember a time when I was not excited for MSU women’s basketball. I am from Tennessee, so while growing up, the state highly revered Pat Summitt and the University of Tennessee’s Lady Vols.

My high school was also great at women’s basketball. Next to football, women’s basketball was one of the most anticipated and loved sporting events around. It is nice to keep this streak going in college.

I have not been disappointed when it comes to MSU. The past two years have been incredible and while MSU has not yet won a championship, the impact these women have made will be felt here, in Starkville, in Mississippi and all across the country for quite a while.

We are known as the school to dethrone UConn and to snap their 111-game winning streak. No one else can say this. Notre Dame beat them, but we did it first. While I was not there at last year’s Final Four in Dallas, and I am definitely not on the basketball team, coach Vic Schaefer and the team have created such a wonderful atmosphere of unity, it almost feels wrong not saying “we” when referring to the team.

I have watched students and fans from all over follow this team more closely than virtually any other team. People’s happiness rode on this team more than I have seen, and there has been such a personal aspect with this team that it truly has felt like a family, much like it is marketed.

As I am not with the team, I cannot speak on team dynamics and what the fans mean to the players, but you could look up any interview with the team and find their thoughts on this and how much the fans mean to them. What other team happily goes into the stands after games to mingle with fans? To me, it is obvious they have to like us at least a little bit.

As a student who is about to graduate after four wonderful years here and as an MSU fan, I want to thank the MSU women’s basketball team and everyone involved with the team.

Thank you for such a memorable junior and senior year.

Thank you for putting MSU back on the map. My northern relatives no longer ask how my year at Ole Miss has been because they know the difference now.

Thank you for embracing the fans and students. You truly make us feel like family, not just fans.

Thank you for the experiences I got to have following the team as a photographer and writer during all six rounds of the postseason. I will not forget the dominance at home and in Kansas City, and the thrilling nail-biters in Columbus.

While capturing the National Championship would have been amazing, I am not disappointed in the women in the least. They played their hearts out, and they make me proud to sing the alma mater at the end of the games – yes, even after the loss in Columbus.

Thank you for inspiring others.

One of my favorite images I have taken is a picture from the Kansas City tournament from the Elite Eight game versus UCLA. There was a group of young girls in the corner beside UCLA’s band directly across from me. They were adorned in purple shirts with the biggest smiles on their faces, and they held up pink signs reading, “Future NCAA Baller,” “Future stars” and “Future WNBA team.” Thank you for teaching these girls to go after their dreams and to reach for the stars no matter what. Your impact is much greater than many know.

I started my freshman year with a bang, and now I will graduate MSU with a bang. Thank you for everything.

As head coach Vic Schaefer says, “Praise the Lord and go dogs.”

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