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.
January 6, 2006
Most people say there's no place like home for the holidays. For our team, there's no place like the Palouse.
While our friends back home scurried out to the malls to invest in the best after-Christmas merchandise, we came to recognize that team is just another word for family.
The period of time between finals and the start of the new semester can be a lonely one in Pullman. The streets of campus turn into a ghost town, and oddly there is never a line at the busiest grocery store. Yet, I always feel like the holiday season and the emptiness of this small town helps us appreciate the company of each other even more.
The day after Christmas was the date of our team's arrival back on the Palouse. It was hardly enough time to unpack our suitcases before we zipped them back up and headed to the desert. We rallied to get a few practices in and the feeling of the ball rather than presents and festive food back in our hands.
After a discouraging loss at the University of Arizona, it was unclear how our team would respond. We traveled to Tempe, and amidst a bustling city with thousands of Fiesta Bowl fans crowding the streets, we entered the ASU arena with a unified mentality. However our team may look to an outsider, one on the inside knows that we certainly are not quitters, and hanging our heads after a loss is a waste of time.
I truly felt that for a considerable portion of the game versus the Sun Devils, we put fear into the spirit of our opponent. We caused turnovers because of our defense and we recognized certain strengths within our team. Even though we lost, as a team we saw moments of great basketball. Moments are not enough, however. So it's back to the basics for our team. It is up to us and individuals to take ownership in our mistakes and recognize that teams aren't great because of luck.
Losing is not something most of us are accustomed to - the majority of our team has come from winning high school programs. A losing program is not a legacy any of us wants to leave behind. We have great coaches and we have great players, but now is the time to refocus and find that cement we had at the beginning of the season, which held us together and led us to victory.
Even in times of frustration and upset, we have each other and we have the support of Cougs across the country. In Arizona, we were fortunate to have the company of Chris and Sarah Holland - our former post coach and director of basketball operations - which brought smiles and laughter. They had us to their home for dinner, which I think showed everyone that the mantra "once a Coug, always a Coug" is true to the core.
There was no time to be sad when it seemed everyone else was with their immediate families partaking in special traditions and reminiscing about previous holiday seasons. Even though we all have different last names, we call ourselves a family. We are fortunate to have each other and a coaching staff who are our surrogate parents.
When you're a part of a team you have two families and two places to call home which makes the old saying "there's no place like home for the holidays" something even a group of 13 unrelated ladies can embrace.
Happy New Year to all our fans and thank you for your unwavering support. Go Cougs!