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.
December 6, 2005
After a week-long break from classes and a long road trip the coziness of being at home in Pullman looked very appealing to our team.
Trading flip-flops for snow boots was certainly difficult after deplaning from Hawaii in Spokane. As was the harsh reality that it was already past midnight and we weren't even back to Pullman yet.
These things aside, and albeit a few wounded warriors and no suntan, our team came home with a fifth-place trophy, the true visible sign we were in Hawaii.
After a frustrating loss to the host team of the tournament, we were determined not to let that game set the tone for the trip. We bounced back and beat Idaho State. It was during this game that I felt a great deal of team character emerged. Different combinations were tried out on the floor, Adriane unfortunately broke her pinkie finger, and Dani Montgomery and Crystal Blue stepped up big time, giving our team not only much-needed sparks, but confidence in their abilities after coming off injury and illness. The greatest feeling during the competition was that of togetherness. We rose to the occasion, determined to be victorious, and we had fun.
The very next day, after a hilarious team swim in the ocean - coaches included - we took to the court against Cal State Northridge, a team we faced again on Friday, Dec. 2. What a cliff-hanger of a game. We pulled through with a one-point victory, but I think it's safe to say we anxiously anticipated our next match-up with the Matadors on our home court.
Following the conclusion of the tournament, we were given free time to enjoy our last night in Waikiki. While some of us spent time with our families, others of us swam and shopped, but we all shared a few good laughs reflecting on our Hawaiian holiday and tournament.
Whether it was at the airport, being greeted with leis from a Coug alum or being served at multiple businesses from Washingtonians, Cougar support was all over the island. We were so fortunate to share a Thanksgiving luau with each other and to enjoy the company of one another as we waded in the water in our swimsuits knowing our friends were piling on the layers as the thermometer dropped back home.
Perhaps the most fitting conclusion to our trip came in the form of a history lesson on the morning of our departure. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we all felt emotionally grateful for what we have as individuals and Americans at our visit to Pearl Harbor. Nikki Stratton's father shared with us a piece of personal pride as he told us about his father's survival of the attack aboard USS Arizona and his heroic struggle to save his life. Nikki's grandfather is still living healthy and is rightfully immortalized at Pearl Harbor. I know we were each touched by our experience at Pearl Harbor. Even though we missed a day of school, I think it's safe to say we had our history lesson, more vivid and affective than anything one can read in a book.
However, now it's time to break out the textbooks again and hit the hardwood at Beasley in preparation for our next contest. With a successful tournament experience behind us, and the memories only road trips can provide, it's clear that it's truly basketball season once again. Although we'll miss wearing tank tops and shorts, there's nothing better than the comforts of home.
Official Website of Washington State University Athletics | Bohler Athletic Complex | PO Box 641602 Pullman, WA 99164-1602 | 1.800.GO.COUGS