Between you and me, there is one thing in this world that annoys me more than it probably should – lazy, pick-up basketball. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those guys who treats pick-up hoops like it’s the Celtics-Sixers, but I do like some hustle. It makes it more fun. Get your butt back on defense. Hit the boards. Call out the screens. Generally…just care.
And probably for the same reason that I hate bad pick-up, I…LOVE…NESCACs. Everybody brings their absolute best. Everybody cares.
The victory is only as sweet as the competition is good. And in NESCAC the competition is epic.
In some ways, I’m offering this up as a personal thank you to each athlete at Middlebury, Bowdoin, Bates, Tufts, Hamilton, Wesleyan, Conn, Trinity, Amherst, and Colby. Everyone scrapped this weekend. And that made it all the more fun.
It’s the communal drive to be our best that makes NESCAC great. It’s more than the team’s going for the win. It’s the squads battling for their school’s best finish. Or even an individual chasing a PR. Regardless, every single person at that meet is absolutely bringing it.
In my youth, I was myopically focused on winning it. Now, I’m driven by something bigger. My obsession with just throwing down. And that’s NESCACs. It’s both. We all want it. And we demand each other’s best. You better absolutely bring your A-game on the last Saturday in April because people are willing to do some pretty incredible things to have their teammates’ backs.
When I was a senior, I convinced myself we could win. I begged my coach to enter me in seven events. He did. And, as a squad, we threw down from the first event to the last. Sure, we got trounced by 100 points. But, I’ll tell you this, it was a successful NESCACs. And I’ve never regretted that day for moment.
Since then, I can’t say that I’ve entered anyone in 7 events, but I have witnessed some even more impressive performances. Individuals and teams that I tip my cap to. People who’s selflessness allowed them to truly challenge their limits. Men and women who appear on the brink of absolute exhaustion, seemingly fueled by nothing more than the screams of their teammates, mustering one final PR after 8 hours of competition.
This year marked my 20th NESCAC T&F Championship. And I can say that we’ve thrown down at every single one of them. I’m proud to say that. By the points, I’ve lost more than I’ve won. But NESCACs isn’t about the W. It’s about pursuit and passion. Winning has never been, nor ever will be, the metric by which I measure a successful NESCAC.
A successful NESCAC is something you feel. It’s the knowledge in your gut that you left it out there. That you threw down with every fiber of your being and made them take it from you. If someone wants to take the title from you, that’s fine, you just better make them pry it from your clenched hands.
Otherwise, it’s just lazy pick up. And, at Williams, we always get back on defense.