I’ve been covering the Winthrop University women’s basketball team for the The Herald in nearby Rock Hill, S.C., this season. I’ve enjoyed the assignment and the players and their coach, Bud Childers, have been fun to work with.
The Eagles have had an up-and-down season, 10-11 at this writing, and probably due to a general lack of experienced players, Childers has to feel a little like Forrest Gump opening his proverbial box of chocolates — never quite sure what he’s going to get. Winthrop has won some close games with clutch plays in the final seconds and they’ve also lost games by 30 and 37 points at home to non-Division I teams,
But it’s been fun to watch the women’s game, which differs from the men’s version in that it’s seldom played above the rim — and never that I’ve seen so far in the Big South Conference — and relies a lot less on sheer strength.
My most recent Winthrop story, the Eagles’ home game against Longwood on Saturday, didn’t make the paper due to a technical glitch. So in order not to deprive humanity of what I thought was a pretty good story, I’m going to reproduce it in the blog in a little while.
It contains what I thought was one of the better quotes I’ve collected in a while. In my view, the star of the game, a 54-46 Winthrop win, was a 6-foot-1 sophomore forward named Katie Fitzgerald. This young lady from south Georgia hasn’t played much this year while recovering from pre-season surgery for a dislocated thumb.
But on Saturday, she had one of those good all-around statistical lines that warms a true basketball fan’s heart: 11 points, including two big three-pointers, 5 rebounds, a couple of steals, an assist and a blocked shot.
I talked with her afterwards about her comeback from surgery, a little red scar still visible on the inside of her thumb.
“It was good to come back and be who I am,” she said.
That’s a statement that says a lot to me about the nature of sports. True active, competitive athletes certainly feel that they can’t be who they are if they aren’t playing.
From the mouth of youth comes profundity.