“It’s just not exciting.” “I can’t get into it.” “They don’t dunk.” “They don’t play with passion of men.”
These are all excuses I hear from students and the Clarksville community as to why they can’t “lower themselves” to watch women’s basketball. I have to admit my bias being at LSU during two Women’s Final Four teams got me just a LITTLE bit spoiled, but I find it hard to acknowledge someone as a true fan of the game if they can’t learn to respect and appreciate a well played and well coached game, no matter the gender of the people who play or coach it.
Yes, the men’s game is filled with larger, faster, stronger athletes and of course has the game “above the rim” which is missed from virtually all women’s games, but the passion, heart, execution, and drive to win is not only matched, but sometimes exceeded on the women’s side just because those ladies have to fight for so much respect from these “fans” who demand so much.
The complete lack of respect and exposure given to this season’s Austin Peay Lady Govs basketball team not only proved to be one of the motivating factors behind the team’s success, but also wound up robbing a lot of people of a story of an inspirational basketball team.
No supporter of Austin Peay, or anyone who even TRIES to call themselves a basketball fan, can say that the performance put on by the Lady Govs in this year’s OVC Women’s tournament was anything short of magical. Sure, I am support the men as well, and I was very sad to see their season end on Saturday night against Morehead State in the OVC Championship Game. Seriously though, let’s be honest. Did the men really have to FIGHT for respect? They returned a fantastic group of core seniors that have lived up to their billing for the most part this season, played in five nationally televised games and were just one win away from a repeat OVC tournament championship.
13 ladies. 1 senior. 1 junior. 11 other freshmen and sophomores on a team that not only graduated 4 seniors last season, but went 6-23 with only 2 conference wins and failed to qualify for the OVC Tournament. Written off by virtually everyone (including AP students and the Clarksville community), the Lady Governors beat Eastern Illinois to win the OVC tournament and qualify for the NCAA Women’s Tournament. In the process, the Lady Govs managed a road win against #4 seed Morehead State, and then a win against conference favorite and #1 seed Murray State before their win in the championship game.
I can’t remember the last time I was this proud of a basketball team that I cheer for. The way that Coaches Carrie Daniels, Laphelia Doss, Marcus Payne, and Charlotte Marshall led this team back to prominence is an achievement that should be appreciated by everyone in the APSU community. Not just because of the success, but because of their eloquent and unwavering leadership they gave their team.
The University and the city of Clarksville should be proud of the 13 ladies that wear the Red and White with our school across their chest, and should honor the fact that they not only proved every women’s college basketball preseason publication wrong this season, but the fact they proved just about everyone who follows AP athletics wrong this season. It is important to remember that these ladies lay it on the line to not only represent themselves and their families, but they represent our entire community. They did all of this with most people either laughing in their face, or not even paying attention at all. Their dedication to winning not only requires, but demands respect.
Every person involved with Austin Peay Women’s basketball should realize that not only did they set a milestone in the history of the University, but just how inspirational that milestone was. Thank you all for showing everyone that with hard work, motivation, teamwork, belief and passion that DREAMS COME TRUE! I am so glad we will get to watch you all finally play on the national stage that you so much deserve.
Coach Carrie Daniels said after the win that “I couldn’t be prouder”. Neither can I, Coach.
Take a bow ladies, it’s time to dance!