On Sunday, fans of Maryland's Women's basketball program were invited to celebrate a remarkably accomplished senior class, culminating in Alyssa Thomas's number being raised to the rafters after a blowout win marking the end to ACC regular-season play (now and forever).
Back during the 2010-2011 season, we took our eldest daughter, then two years old, often to Comcast. These trips triggered a new, deeper appreciation of the program while we watched Alicia DeVaughn, Alyssa Thomas, and Sequoia Austin build a new identity for the team. With Essence already enrolled a year prior and the transfer of Katie Rutan into the mix, the school had a core group of incredibly charismatic upperclassmen going into this season.
That dynamic shown through in the game against Virginia Tech. And while we are marking the end of the collegiate careers of one of the best players to ever don a Terrapin jersey, in this household we're celebrating the tenure of our favorite Maryland student-athlete ever -- Sequoia Austin.
Sequoia has always been the player that our two girls most want to see at team events. Sequoia's smile at the annual mini-golf games and autograph sessions has been electric, it is contagious. Positivity Monday was a misnomer insofar as it has been positivity pretty much every minute of every hour of every day.
Prior to player introductions on Sunday, AwesumPawsum brought down the house by leading the cheerleading squad's routine (this happened: http://instagram.com/p/lGPuR6IYjK/#). Sequoia then went back to the bench and, along with Essence Townsend, was announced with the starting lineup for the first time this season. Essence and Sequoia played the first five minutes and then played several minutes towards the close of the second half. It was awesome.
I often doubt that the selfless acts of a pure heart can rise above cynicism and world weariness, but there it is (or was): people chanting Sequioa's name, dancing with her, delighting when she jumped with joy into Alyssa Thomas's arms after the ceremony.
Our section was packed to the gills with young girls. A couple of rows behind us, towards the end of the games, a group of them talked about the prospect of meeting Alyssa after the game. There was disbelief and excitement, questions as to whether it was, in fact, true. Yup. It is. Alyssa Thomas. Wow. And then the question: "Are we going to meet Sequoia too?" Followed by echoes of "Can we?"
This is something both my daughters agree with whole-heartedly. All of the players are great. Sequoia Austin, a former walk-on, is something else. She is magic.