As a sophomore, Kate Benz chronicled her experiences with the Cougar basketball team during the 2004-05 season. In 2005-06, the junior forward from Portland, Ore. continues her accounts of life as a Cougar. Please visit wsucougars.com for future thoughts from Kate throughout the year.
October 21, 2005
My team is family, my home away from home, and a significant chapter in my life.
We have a relationship different and deeper than just friends. We have disagreements like sisters, but at the end of the day I know my teammates would go to bat for me in a moment's notice and vice-versa. It's somewhat difficult to explain to an outsider, but we each have a role, and when someone is absent from practice or a game, it's evident in one way or another.
When the news came regarding the death of University of Arizona center Shawntinice Polk, we felt like the wind had been knocked out of us. After hearing such utterly shocking and deeply saddening news, I tried envisioning my own team without any one of my teammates. That feeling of uneasiness hasn't lifted, even as the days pass. There has yet to be a day when I step on the court and see the U of A banner and cease to think about what their practices and locker room banter must be like.
Sure, coaches and teams lose players every year to graduation. A star player moving on and leaving the team behind is something every program has to deal with at one point or another, but one could never imagine in this fashion. There is no way anyone can fill the shoes of a player like Polkey, who will forever be irreplaceable.
Questions of frustration and disbelief undoubtedly cloud my mind every time I think about why she died at such a young age. I can't come to any conclusions on the matter, but I can say without hesitation that I have learned some valuable lessons through the passing of Polkey.
Life is definitely an unexplainable journey. We know where we started, but our ending is anybody's guess.
I guess life must be like books. Some are long and filled with notes crammed in the margins of the pages. Others are shorter with frayed edges and happy endings. Still others begin as promising chapter books but somehow end up back on a shelf, left unfinished.
The great thing about books is that they paint a picture in your mind. Even though two people might read the same one, each experiences it differently. A favorite book creates memories just like special people in our lives do. Whenever you think of that book, a familiar feeling and a flood of reminiscences come to mind.
Maybe the most we can do is to be thankful for the lives we come in contact with, and treat each day like a new chapter in life. No one can say how long the story of a life will be, but we should cherish the turning of the pages without fear that the next one will be the last.
I am grateful for my team I call my family. Wherever I end up in the future, when I look back on this time, I will smile for the memories created while living this chapter of my life.
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