Basketball HOF Holiday Showcase Weekend
by: Samantha Hegmann, Administrative Fellow for Compliance
6:15 am - BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! I roll over and turn off my alarm as it goes off. I get up, pull back the curtains of my hotel room and look out over Springfield, Massachusetts. The sunlight peeks in and I begin to get ready for the long day ahead of me. I go through a checklist in my head of what is on my agenda for the day: Meeting at 8:30, Luncheon at 12:00, Hospital visit at 2:30, and a basketball quadruple header at the MassMutual Center to follow. At that moment it is clear I will not be returning to my room for quite awhile. I quickly get ready and head down to the hotel lobby on my way to the 8:30 meeting.
8:30 am - I have a planning meeting for the MAAC Basketball Championships that will be coming up in March. It amazes me how a five day event needs a whole year of planning. I get lost in the talk of budgets and ticketing, but I quickly try to get a grasp of what is going on. I find it amazing how much detail goes into promoting the tournament e.g. the layout of different promotional advertisements and where to place them in the arena. I never thought that there was a strategic plan to place them in prominent areas. I figured the tournament would be promoted in the immediate Springfield area, but to plan out what newspapers to target in neighboring states and cities was something I never thought about. Along with the campus initiatives that are carefully planned to boost ticket sales, there are different components that go into a tournament that I did not account for.
10:30 am - The meeting comes to an end and I look for a quick recharge with Panera Bagels and coffee before we take off to the next event at the Basketball Hall of Fame. By noon we are sitting at center court at the HOF . The ‘Service Above Self’ luncheon honored two people who put service above themselves. I am very excited not only to be in the HOF, but because I am only feet away from one of my idols, Rebecca Lobo. I am surprised to see that she is one of the honored guests. When I was in elementary school, the WNBA was in its infancy and she was one of the key players that started the league. I had a jersey with her name on it that I wore at least once a week, until the thing almost fell apart in the wash. To be that close to her, and to see her speak is a once in a lifetime opportunity for me, and what better stage for it to be set at than the HOF.
12:15 pm - During the luncheon, while some people are talking I find my attention wandering to all the inductees who lined the ceiling of the hall. All the faces and names that have made an impact on one of the most loved games today was a sight to see. There is room for more plaques, making me wonder what great players will be gracing the walls of the HOF in the years to come.
1:30 pm - Off to my next activity, Shriner’s Hospital for Children. Jill, Tania and I load into the van and head off to meet up with the Fairfield men’s team for the hospital visit. I see this van ride as my chance to get in a quick power nap, since I am not sure when I will have a chance for another break. My relaxation time is short lived. Before I know it, I am at the hospital. When we arrive we meet up with the Fairfield men’s basketball team who are taking a tour of the hospital and bringing toys and gifts to the patients. Shiner’s hospital is not just an ordinary children’s hospital. It is a hospital that, amongst other things, corrects deformities and provides prosthesis and cleft palate reconstruction for children of different ages. Usually hospitals smell of antiseptic and have stark white walls. However, at the Shriner’s hospital, I find it to be a very warm and inviting place, no antiseptic smell, and colorful murals on the wall . There is even a play house in the middle of the waiting room for children to climb on. As we toured the facility, it amazes me just how much work the hospital staff does for the children. Usually, on the news or in heroic stories I hear of adults who have lost limbs or suffered injuries, but rarely do I hear about children who experience similar disfigurements. The Fairfield players are out and about interacting with the patients. There is one child who is getting fitted for his wheelchair and I can tell he is going through a rough time. He becomes excited when he sees the basketball team. One of the player’s walks up to him, gives him a t-shirt, and speaks to him in Spanish. The child immediately changes his mood. The little boy is so happy and excited. The small gesture made his day.
3:30 pm - I have already accomplished more than most people do in a day, however, I am just gearing up for the second half of my day. We head to the MassMutual Center to watch the quadruple header that is taking place. While I prepare myself to watch the games, I slowly lose my wind and I see a coffee run in my near future.
7:00 pm - In desperate need of caffeine, I walk the two blocks back to the hotel to refuel with some much needed Dunkin Donuts. I order an extra-large coffee, in hopes that it will keep me awake for the next 5 hours.
7:45 pm - The Siena Saints play the UMass Minutemen. The Saints pull an early lead. However, as the game goes on, the Minutemen slowly chip away at the point spread. The Saints end up losing the game in the last few minutes with a final score of 78-82.
9:15 pm - In between games I talk to Joe Desantis one of the members of the upcoming MAAC Honor Roll Event. He played for Fairfield in the 70’s and will be a member of the first class to be honored at the prestigious MAAC Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. I find it interesting as I start to discuss his playing days with him. Being a college athlete myself, I can relate to his stories in many ways. He says a few things that I find very insightful. He notes how very humble and privileged he is to be included in the first induction class. There is one particular thing that strikes me most when I am talking to him and reflecting on his playing career. While he enjoyed his years playing at Fairfield, and he credits Fairfield for giving him an education that has lasted longer than four years, it was his role as an athlete that has helped him become successful. When I ask him what piece of advice he has for current student-athletes he says, “Be selfish, prioritize, and have fun, but don’t forget why you’re here. Academics come first. After you leave the institution you will continue to learn, teach, and grow, in your professional and personal life”.
9:30 pm - The Fairfield Stags play Old Dominion University. It is the last matchup of the quadruple header. The Stags play very well together as a team. Once they take the lead in the second half, they run with it, defeating the Monarch’s with a score of 59-51.
Midnight - Finally I arrive at the hotel for the night. I crawl into my bed, thinking of the day I just experienced. The thought of it all makes me all the more exhausted. As I fall asleep, one thought is left in my head, “If this is a preview, I certainly have my work cut out for me in March.”